Yoga provides plenty of benefits for children including managing stress, building concentration and feeling healthy. It has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years, amongst adults and children.
A study by the University of California found children who had frequent yoga instruction saw significant increases in self-esteem, overall fitness and a decrease in discipline problems.
It was these health benefits that encouraged Goodstart Early Learning Cairns’ centre director Natalie Carr to approach a parent, who was a yoga teacher, at the centre.
“At the moment Jana (Ludwig) comes in once a month to teach yoga to the children but we’re hoping to increase that soon,” Ms Carr said.
“We knew she was studying to be a teacher and encouraged her to get her blue card so she could run classes here. It’s been a great addition to our programs, especially for the kindy children,” she said.
Ms Ludwig uses pictures of animals doing the yoga poses to get the children interested, and creates a story around them.
“The children just love it and understand that yoga time means relaxation time,” Ms Carr said.
“Our educators are now using yoga poses and techniques in their classes to calm the children and help them refocus.”
Research shows yoga can enhance flexibility, strength, coordination and body awareness. It can also help with concentration and relaxation.
Yoga teacher Jana Ludwig (pictured below with one of her students) started doing yoga about eight years ago and has blended her interest in the exercise, and in brain development, in to her program.
“I do the yoga with cards to keep the kids engaged and to keep them focused. I’m a graphic artist so the pictures show the characters going through a lot of different experiences and feeling different emotions such as fear, separation, anxiety and anger,” Ms Ludwig said.
“I aim to show children that it’s okay to feel these emotions but we need to be careful not to react to them,” she said.
Yoga for mums at the centre is being planned for the long term.
YOGA TIPS FOR PARENTS:
- Don’t expect two-year-olds to concentrate for an hour. Most of them will manage about 15 minutes so it’s best to keep classes short.
- Make it fun. Encouraging them to be a slithering snake or a wise old tree is much more interesting for small children.
- Use music, pictures and singing to gain the children’s attention.
- Tell a story so they need to listen.
- Take breaks by encouraging the children to silently count inhales and exhales and discuss whether the children feel tired or calm, excited or happy.