These last couple of months before spring can be hard for youth. After the excitement of the holidays is over, it may feel like eternity before they can finally enjoy the freedom of the outdoors again. Although, it may be too cold and blustery outside, that does not mean you and a child in your life cannot take part in activities to improve your minds and bodies indoors.
Yoga can help kids endure the indoors for a little while longer in the short-term. Plus, if yoga is something your mentee finds they enjoy, continuing to practice it in the longer term can grant them countless benefits. Not only can you both acquire physical benefits from yoga, like greater flexibility, strength and coordination but yoga helps with concentration, stress management, self-respect and self-esteem as well. It also is a wonderful outlet for those kids that may shy away from sports because of the fear of being singled out in some way. Furthermore, yoga is something that can be practiced anywhere, even in a classroom during lunch hour!
When first introducing the concept of yoga, you can begin by explaining that it is an exercise that helps connect the mind and body. There are three main components to focus on. Feel free to incorporate all of these components into your practice together or just one or two.
1) Breathing is the first concept usually introduced in yoga. Many yoga classes begin by first taking time to take slow, deep breathes in and out.
2) The definition of exercise in yoga is viewed a little differently than exercise in other physical activities. There are some similarities; “cheturangas”, for example, are similar to push-ups while “warrior poses” are similar to lunges. There are usually different sequences that you will do several times in one session. It is likely that you will find poses for flexibility following strengthening poses.
3) Meditation is the approach to quiet the mind which helps relieve stress. There are different ways to practice meditation. One concept is sitting in a quiet place in a cross-legged position and concentrating on your breath and/or one word or phrase in your mind.
Best Practice Tips:
-Yoga is something one should practice a couple hours after eating. Some poses will still be alright to do if you choose to practice right after eating but definitely stay away from any downward-facing poses.
-Yoga mats are the ideal surface. If you are comfortable with trying it on a rug or carpeted area this may work as well.