The benefits of yoga are well-known. But, what is the ideal age to introduce your little one to yoga? And how can you make it appealing to children? Yoga expert Rina Hindocha explains.
By Ashwin Dewan
The next time you want to teach your children self-acceptance and help them boost their confidence, try yoga. From encouraging healthy habits to contributing towards their mental development, yoga can be immensely beneficial to children.
In an exclusive interview with ParentCircle, yoga trainer Rina Hindocha talks about the positive changes that yoga brings into our lives and why children should be introduced to yoga from an early age.
Q. Tell us about your journey so far and why yoga is important to you?
A. Initially, I was not into yoga and was more interested in aerobics. Like many others, I believed yoga might be boring and monotonous. As yoga became popular, many yoga learning centres began mushrooming around my home. One fine day, I decided to give yoga a try and took up a one-month course at a nearby centre. Then, I got so hooked to it that I decided to make a career out of yoga.
Now, I am glad that I took it up. The practice of yoga has helped me make enormous positive changes in my life. It has a lot more to do with the mental wellness than the physical aspect. My stress, anxiety level, immunity level, my illnesses – all have reduced considerably. Yoga has changed me in many ways. Now, yoga is my priority.
Q. How long have you been practising yoga?
A. I have been practising yoga for around ten years. For the last three years, I have been teaching yoga as well.
Q. In today’s age, when children spend a lot of time on gadgets, how can parents get them interested in yoga?
A. Getting children interested in yoga is a difficult task, as their attention span is short and they may get bored soon. Since I conduct yoga workshops for children, I ensure that these sessions are tailor-made for them. I incorporate a lot of fun elements in the yoga sessions. Rather than teach them the Sanskrit names of the asanas, I will replace them with animal names. I also make them play games that involve running and stretching.
This way, I ensure that learning yoga becomes a fun-filled and enjoyable exercise for the children. Once they get interested, I move on to teach them the advanced poses. After a few months, they are ready to go to the next level.
Q. Do children benefit from practising yoga?
A. Absolutely. I teach yoga in schools and I have had parents come up to me saying that the children have improved in their studies, their concentration levels have gone up and so on. I feel good when I see that even after school, children practise yoga poses and even show off to their friends and relatives.
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Q. How have the schools responded to yoga?
A. It has been a positive response so far. I am teaching at a couple of schools, where the management are happy with my yoga classes. I feel that every school curriculum should have yoga as one of the subjects.
Q. Is there a right age for children to start yoga?
A. According to me, the earlier the children start, the better it is. I currently train children at a Montessori school, where a two-year-old can be seen doing a couple of asanas. Initially, I was hesitant to teach yoga to very young children but now, I feel my efforts have paid off. The children even performed yoga poses in front of a packed house.
Q. What are the simple poses with which we can start children off?
A. I suggest that children do more of the butterfly pose (badhakonasana), the giraffe pose, the camel pose (utrasana), the cobra pose (bhujangasana), the mountain pose (parbatasana), the rabbit pose (sasangasana), etc.,
Q. You are a proponent of partner yoga. How can yoga help parents stay in harmony?
A. I practise partner yoga as well. It helps a lot as I believe when one does a partner yoga pose, bonding is essential. Trust is a vital element of this asana, as it requires both partners to have faith in each other so they can perform this asana for long periods. Partner yoga need not necessarily be limited to husband and wife. Even friends and siblings can perform it.
Q. Your tips for children to concentrate better and build immunity.
A. Children can benefit immensely from practising yoga. Practising yoga will help children concentrate better and build immunity as well. However, taking up any form of physical activity or sports such as football, basketball, athletics, etc., is important. Today, children spend so much time indoors that they do not realise the importance of physical activity.
Q. How can teens benefit from practising yoga?
A. Yoga should not be limited to a group and everyone should practise it. Teens can derive immense benefits from practising yoga. One such benefit is mental wellness. Teens are passing through a formative period and yoga helps them tackle the many challenges life throws at them.
Q. Your message to readers of ParentCircle?
A. One can become a good parent, provided he is fit and healthy from inside. If a parent is cranky and ill most of the time, he will have difficulty rearing a child. In this situation, yoga helps a lot. I would suggest that all parents should take some time off their busy schedule and engage in some physical and mental activity. This would enable them to give their best to their children. Children learn from what they see, so be an ideal role model.
Rina Hindocha is a yoga trainer and practitioner. She is also a board member at Touch A Life Foundation.
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