Benefits of teaching children yoga and meditation
Unfortunately, the idealistic view that children can live carefree lives in a ‘fantasy world of play’ is outdated and, far from reality.
Stress, anxiety and fear are real feelings that are affecting children now. With the increase in depression in adults it is only natural to see our children be affected. Together with peer pressure and, in some cases, family poverty, it is absolutely crucial we act now to teach our children the coping skills they need to grow up in the present world.
Yoga and meditation are excellent ways of teaching children of any age how to manage complex inner situations and states. They are excellent tools to enable children to create a space of inner tranquillity, allowing them to achieve the well-being that they are generally associated with.
How many times have you told your child to ‘calm down’? What does that mean to your child? Absolutely nothing! If they could self-regulate at 8 they would – children are bright enough to do this. Self-awareness and perception of being strong and feeling calm is a learned practice.
Calm is the result of concentration on the present moment, of remaining focused on a single thought. This is the fundamental element that unites yoga and meditation.
Understanding how to be calm can be difficult for children who are over-thinkers or natural worriers. So it is important to introduce techniques like yoga and meditation to help them find a more relaxing and peaceful state.
It is well documented that meditation helps to improve a child’s concentration. We are lucky in the UK that our schools are looking at meditation techniques to help our children increase concentration and memory levels.
We know that children’s organisation and planning skills continue to develop right up until they turn 18, so allowing a child to learn meditation techniques during their primary school years will assist them during their tougher secondary schooling.
GETTING TO KNOW THEIR BODY
It is never too early to become aware of yourself, and can be done with very simple activities and natural gestures. For our children, building strong relationships with themselves can only be positive.
It doesn’t have to be yoga or specific meditation techniques that helps children learn about their body. Martial arts, gymnastics and team sports like football and netball all require a high level of awareness of one’s movements. If your child doesn’t want to sit and meditate, the next best thing is their after school martial arts or gymnastics class!
AN ACTIVITY TO DO TOGETHER
Although it may seem obvious, children follow by example and often will copy their parents. In order to engage their curiosity and bring them closer to meditation, it is important that us, as parents, first understand and feel the benefits of meditation.
With every child, we are dealing with both their huge imagination and strong will power. For these reasons alone, you should try and bring meditation and yoga to life in your home. Use tools that help like the yoga mats and calming music to engage and most of all make it fun!
By spending quality time together, it will strengthen your relationship and give you a peaceful moment to enjoy each others company.
CHILD-FRIENDLY MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
It maybe hard for you to imagine your child sitting in silence and concentrating on themselves for even one minute let alone 10 minutes. To be honest, it would be really rare for a child under 10 to not be distracted by their surroundings, or, become bored of the situation.
But who said that in order to meditate we need to stay still? On the contrary, there are many meditation techniques that can be adapted for children to make it fun, and definitely not boring.
Colouring, painting, slime and Play-Doh are the most common associations to meditation for children. However, dancing, or just jumping on your trampoline, are perfect gestures for a meditation that is really child-friendly.