We often think of children as carefree with few worries and forget that they go through stresses and strains in life just like any adult.
In todays society of peer pressure , consumerism and sibling rivalry children need time and space to be able to find a safe place to release their worries and concerns.
As a yoga teacher and mother I began to make it a priority to teach my own children yoga on a daily basis and to reinforce the importance of experiencing ?sadhana-personal daily practice. I then expanded the practice into a group situation teaching a variety of age groups the importance of yoga to maximise health, physically, mentally and spiritually.
As with most things the younger you begin the easier it becomes. Children of all ages are seriously conditioned by society, there is so much stimulation around them that it becomes difficult for them to enjoy the simpler things in life.
Within everyone of us we have the tools to access our true identity which can often become lost during daily life and our routine living. Yoga helps access these tools so that our true nature can shine through in everything we do.
When experiencing yoga from a young age it is about each child as an individual gaining a positive relationship with themselves. As they learn they absorb information with pleasure, enthusiasm and at the same time have a great deal of fun.
Yoga in a childs daily life
There is no better way to begin your day than feeling alert and ready to face the world. Yoga means to unite and as a practice incorporates many different aspects, these include the physical, mental and spiritual aspect of who we truly are.
.mental-meditation and specific breathing techniques also known as pranayama
.spiritual-involves meditation, relaxation and chanting
When these practices are combined the spirits are raised to a higher level giving each individual energy and focus.
To help encourage a daily practice for children included are some of the key yoga asanas and breathing techniques to help beginners from as young as 5years.
Basic breathing technique-full yoga breath
This breathing technique can be included at the beginning of a practice to help connect with the breath, bringing awareness to the mind and slowing down the body. It can also be added at the end of practice to encourage relaxation.
. Lie comfortably on your back and become aware of the movement of the breath flowing through the nostrils.
. Place your hands on top of your abdomen with the middle fingers touching at the navel.
. As you breathe in allow the abdomen to expand like a large balloon this will naturally create a space between the middle fingers. As you exhale through the nose allow the abdomen to gently relax. The middle fingers will come back together.
. Use the full capacity of the lungs.
. After 5 minutes you will feel totally relaxed and calm the mind will be still and focused and the breath will be smooth and rhythmic.
. Sitting on the floor with the legs out straight, become aware of the sitting bones. keep the spine lengthened upwards. Visualise a long string tied to the top of your head which stretches all the way up to the sky and with every in breath the string is lengthening your spine upwards helping to keep it straight and long. This creates space between each vertebrae in the back.
. Keep an awareness of the full yoga breath as your arms raise upwards above the head with the palms parallel and shoulders relaxed. Flex your feet and keep the body in the shape of a right angle.
. As you begin to stretch downwards towards the feet keep the spine long by using the full space around you, stretching upwards, forwards and if possible aim to stretch beyond the feet. Keep the eyes closed, visualise and feel your body stretching.
Using the space around you can help you to stretch every inch of your body and help to lengthen the muscles.
. Grasp your big toes with the fingers and thumbs pushing into the heels and drawing the toes towards the head. If holding the big toes isnt possible place your hands on the ankles or the legs. Move into the position slowly without jerking or forcing.
. As you hold the position lengthen on the inhalation and relax into the stretch on the exhalation. The more the body relaxes the more it will stretch.
. To complete release the fingers from the toes and as you inhale raise the arms up to the parallel position just like in the beginning of the asana, keeping the length in the body until you return back to a right angle.
. Take a deep breath in, exhale and release the arms down by your sides.
. When beginning the posture hold for 5 long slow deep breathes and as practice increases lengthen the time.
Paschimottanasana- when practiced regularly will increase flexibility in the hip joints, tone and massage the entire abdominal area and remove excess weight from the abdominal region.