Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. And so begins our Mommy & Me Saturday morning yoga class…at home. (More on that later.) Kids are naturals at yoga. As infants and toddlers, they are masters at happy baby, plank, cobra and many other poses. So it seems obvious to me that kids would enjoy yoga. I mean what kid doesn’t love twisting and contorting their body? While yoga is fun for kids, the top reasons I want to my son to practice yoga are just as valid for him as for me.
1. Concentration–Trying to get my son to hold a pose is as easy as flying to the moon. He’s learning though. Each time we practice yoga, he can focus and hold poses just a little bit longer.
2. Body Awareness–Yoga requires a spatial awareness of your body. I can’t count the number of times my son has tripped over his own feet or just bumped into a wall. Yoga is a great way to encourage awareness of all body parts separately and as a whole. Take bridge pose. Lie down on your back. Knees bent. Feet flat. Arms straight. Hands by your side. Head on the floor. Now lift your bottom. That is a lot of body awareness. And if my son can follow all of those instructions, then yoga has already worked its magic.
3. Coordination and strength–Coordination follows body awareness. Warrior pose is a great one to improve both coordination and strength. It may not seem challenging, but for a little kid to point one foot forward and one foot to the side requires a huge amount of coordination. Now add in the arms and one bent knee, and you’ll see why warrior pose is so wonderful.
4. Self-confidence–The first time my son tried to do tree pose, he fell over. It’s not the easiest balance pose. When he did learn how to balance well enough to hold the pose, wow was he excited and so happy with himself. Now he loves doing tree pose all the time.
5. Calm–I am absolutely guilty of rushing my son whenever we need to leave the house. No matter how much cushion time I think I have, it’s never enough to avoid feeling frazzled. Plus my son is a dawdler when it comes to getting ready. Yoga provides a respite from the rush of our often too busy lives. It’s a time when he can take as long as he wants in a completely hurry-free zone.
6. Calming–I’ve been using the take a deep breath technique with my son for months now. Whenever he gets worked up or too hyper, we take a few deep breaths and then resume playing or whatever we’re doing. Yogic breathing can be incredibly calming, whether during yoga practice or at the playground.
7. Fun–My son giggles so much when we practice yoga. We pull out this fabulous Yoga Kids book and read the story as we go along. And whether it’s holding cow, cat, downward dog or cobra pose, he loves imitating animals…and climbing on top of Mommy.
I’m not sure my son will yet last through a 30-minute kids yoga class, so we’ve started our practice at home. I’ve practiced yoga on and off for almost 20 years, so I feel comfortable adjusting my son’s poses to maintain good form. If you’re not comfortable doing that or prefer a studio environment, below are some places around town that offer kids yoga classes.
10 Places to Practice Kids Yoga in Greater Houston
YogaWorks (Bellaire, Houston, Pearland)–Ages 4-10.
Big Power Yoga (Houston)–Ages 3-12 and Family Yoga.
Motherhood Center (Houston)–Mom and Baby Yoga.
Houston Public Library (Houston)–Baby Yoga (0-18 mos.) and Toddler Yoga (18 mo.-3 years). Classes offered at Oak Forest, Heights, Alief and other branches. Search for “kids programs” at local branches for times and availability.
Studio NiaMoves (Houston)Just starting a Family Yoga class for ages 3-10 on Oct. 27. TBD if this will turn into a series.
Children’s Museum (Houston)–No age restrictions.
Sundance Yoga (Friendswood)–Ages 6-13.
Gen Yoga (Sugar Land)–Ages 7-10. Search the schedule for Saturdays.
Awakened Yoga (Sugar Land)–Kids yoga (ages 5-12) and Yoga for Kid Athletes (ages 8-14)
The Woodlands Yoga Studio (The Woodlands)–Mommy & Me (ages 0-6) and Family Yoga.