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Why You Should Start Practicing Yoga with Your Kids

You know that amazing sense of calm and harmony you feel after a good yoga and meditation practice— the improved mindfulness and focus, that feeling of accomplishment and strength?

Well, why not share this with your kids?!

Research has shown that yoga and meditation can have equally transformative benefits for children. Even just a 10-minute practice can ease anxiety, boost self-esteem and enhance physical strength.

So while you were rolling up your mat and getting ready to slay your day, we put together a list of ways you can help empower your kids to become the best versions of themselves, too. Because yoga — it’s not just for grownups.

We brought in Yoga Wake Up instructors Ali Owens (While Your Baby Sleeps and Meditation for Moms) and Jessica Jablonski (Squeeze and Let Go and Peaceful Heart) to provide some insight into how yoga can benefit your kids and extend those many benefits to your family! So without further ado...

Here are 5 ways that practicing yoga and meditation with your children is beneficial.

1. It helps to cope with anxiety and stress.

Anxiety stems from worry about the future and when we feel anxious we are not in the present moment. Stress results from an unmet need or an inability to communicate what those needs are. When we learn to sit still, listen, breathe, and connect to the present moment, a lot of our stress and anxiety melts away.

We are teaching kids not to avoid their thoughts and feelings, but instead to address them so we can find helpful solutions that help to get their needs met so they feel less anxious and more empowered, resilient and cared for, Ali says.

"The one constant thing we have is our breath, and in those tough moments when we are feeling stress and anxiety, simply taking a deep breath can help," says Jessica. “It is great because this is something that can translate over into their day to day, before a big exam, before a baseball game, when fighting with a sibling, etc,” she says.

2. It can build self-esteem.

Practicing yoga helps kids to gain a sense of accomplishment and confidence. We all feel good when we have done something and taking a few moments out of your day to practice can be viewed as an achievement, Ali says.

“I think it is important to encourage (not force) your kids to get involved and when they do, continue to acknowledge them for their abilities,” Ali continues, “ which will help boost their self-esteem and make them feel more accomplished.”

3. Yoga builds athletic ability.

For kids, they love to move and make shapes. They enjoy being involved in what parents are doing. They may particularly enjoy hearing the stories of the postures of learning to link the movement with breath, and it makes it more dynamic and fun. In the end, everyone feels good and connected to their bodies all while having a chance to bond and relate to one another through what becomes mutual, shared interest, Ali says.

4. Yoga enhances physical strength and flexibility.

Yoga promotes the growth of strength and flexibility; as the kids learn to use different parts of their bodies they are constantly strengthening various muscle groups.

“Kids feel stronger, and not just in their muscles, but in their mind. Their flexibility increases as well as awareness of their bodies,” Jessica says.

5. Yoga is something you can do as a family.

There are many ways to incorporate yoga into your daily family routine. Are your kids frustrated with their homework and unable to concentrate? Do some balancing poses. Are they having a hard time falling asleep? Do yoga on your bed! Short bursts of time together are key, eventually, they will want more time with you and you will notice yours and their practice blossoming, says Jess.

The best way to get your kids engaged in practice is to act like a kid. Don’t be afraid to make up a story about the poses. You can teach them how to grow a tree, or make applesauce or go on an adventure through the jungle. You can also make noises by incorporating lion's breath, the breath of fire, bumble bee breath, and other pranayama techniques as kids like to make noise and they will feel the effects of the breathing exercises right away, Ali confirms.