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Try Yoga for Kids

Try Yoga for Kids

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By Nikki German, Ph.D., A.T.C., Clinical Education Coordinator
Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, NDSU

YOGA comes from the Indian word yuj, meaning “to join.” It is an ancient system of exercise that joins the mind and body. Every­one, including kids, can practice yoga, and it can be a great family activity.

Performing yoga offers many ben­efits for kids and adults. Physically, yoga develops strength, coor­dination, flexibility, balance and overall body awareness. Yoga also improves concentration and focus, increases self-confidence and encourages relaxation. Engaging in regular yoga practice can help counter the stresses of homework, after-school activities, sports and other activities that can be chal­lenging for kids.

Yoga can be done almost any­where and anytime: at school, a gym or studio, in the park or at home. If you do not have access to a yoga class, you have other options such as videos or books to guide you through your practice. Wherever you practice yoga, the goal is to create an environment that is free of judgments, expecta­tions and competition. Yoga should be fun for participants, fostering cooperation and compassion, as well as developing an understand­ing of yoga.

A yoga session may include a warmup, breathing exercises, postures and a final relaxation session. During the warmup, you are preparing your mind and body. This may include sitting quietly or gentle stretching exercises. Breathing in and out through the nose promotes concentration and focus, and connects the mind with the body during yoga practice.

Postures or poses are gentle movements involving twisting, standing, balancing and bending. Poses often imitate an animal, plant or flower. During poses, kids can make the sounds of the animal (bark like a dog or hiss like the cobra), or recite the ABCs, a poem or mantra while holding other poses. During final relaxation, music, visualization or guided imagery may be used to promote mind-body awareness, release muscle tension and relieve stress.

Please take into consideration any health or medical conditions you may have and consult with your health-care provider prior to start­ing your yoga practice.

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