Fitness

A : Aerial View

It's Y for Yoga

It is a common knowledge that yoga is an elixir of life; it has the innate ability to heal, strengthen, and transform, not just the body, soul but mind too. But to add to the fun, introduce toddlers, and kids to yoga as a fitness regime, good for all reasons and seasons.

The formation of poses requires balancing, children need to focus more to maintain balance. While focusing on maintaining balance they evoke a sense of calmness and stillness of mind, thus experiencing some kind of meditative feeling. (Pic: YogaZoo, Mumbai)

Manisha Sinha

The bustling pace of children’s lives have a profound effect on their tender minds, sometimes not for the better. In today’s digitized world, with shrinking spaces along with parents’ time and attention, our kids are more reliant on technology which exerts immense pressure to precede each other with the latest. Yoga at an early age helps sculpt the young bodies and minds developing self-esteem, a sense of gratification, fostering cooperation and compassion instead of opposition. 

Bend, so you don’t break

I remember reading somewhere, yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on your way down. Indeed, yoga not only nourishes the body, but it also has the power to nourish the mind and soul. Practising yoga is not just to learn yoga; it is to learn the art of living, which is the most precious gift we can give to our generation Y.  

The origin of yoga has been dated back to the pre-Vedic era. The ultimate goal of yoga is liberation. Liberation from various inhibitions, physical, mental and emotional. It is a disciplined approach to attaining the goal, learning the technique of controlling body and mind. It renders enormous benefits to children, enhancing their strength, flexibility, coordination and body awareness and soothes and calms their minds improving concentration.

Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem, a sense of inner fulfillment, fostering cooperation and compassion instead of opposition, thus sculpting young minds and bodies. In this process, children meld with their inner self attaining harmony within and cohere with the natural world that encompasses them.

When children perform string of poses, they learn to move with ease and thus understand the coordination of various muscles and bones leading to integration of movement. (Pic: YogaZoo, Mumbai)

Benefits of yoga

There are a host of benefits that yoga imparts to children, but the most important ones are:

1. Strengthening and energizing: The involvement of the different muscles while forming various poses builds the strength of the muscles and provides energy to them. Strong bodies help them deal with incorrect posture due to carrying heavy school bags or playing video games etc, strengthens bones and joints, improves digestion, helps maintain healthy body weight.

2.  Balancing: The formation of poses which require balancing, children need to focus more to maintain balance. While concentrating on maintaining the balance, they evoke a sense of calmness and stillness of mind, thus experiencing some meditative feeling. 

3. Breathing: Deep Breathing exercises relax the body and mind, along with enhancing the lung capacity and resulting in the release of healthy hormones. 

4. Integration: When children perform a string of poses, they learn to move with ease and thus understand the coordination of various muscles and bones, leading to the integration of movement.

5. Awareness: While forming different poses of yoga and breathing exercises, children learn more about their body, structure and movements. It creates an awareness among them about their bodies hence leading to better postures, improved appetite, better physical activity and a relaxed mind.

While forming different poses of yoga and breathing exercises, children learn more about their body, structure and movements. It creates an awareness among them about their bodies hence leading to better postures, improved appetite, better physical activity and relaxed mind. (Pic: YogaZoo, Mumbai)

Key takeaways: 

Enhances physical strength  

Augments fortitude

Improves stress management

Reinforces focus and concentration

Builds confidence and self-esteem

Improves coordination and flexibility

Top kid friendly Yoga Poses: 

1. Bow pose – Dhanurasana 

2. Bridge pose – Setubandhasana

3. Cat pose – Marjaryasana 

4. Cobra pose – Bhujangasana

5. Corpse pose – Savasana

6. Cow Pose – Bitilasana

7. Downward facing dog pose – Adho mukh svanasana

8. Easy Pose – Sukhasana

9.  Hero pose – Virasana

10.  Locust pose – Salabhasana

11.  Tree Pose – Vrksasana 

12.  Upward Salute – Urdhva Hastasana 

13.  Upward Facing Dog pose – Urdhva Mukh Svanasana

14.  Warrior Pose – Virabhadrasana 

Initiating kids into yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem, a sense of inner fulfillment, fostering cooperation and compassion instead of opposition, thus sculpting young minds and bodies. (Pic: YogaZoo, Mumbai)

Yoga poses not meant for children

Yoga, in general, is very good for children. Though it will not be incorrect to say that a little caution should be exercised in choosing the yoga poses for children. Children’s body is tender hence exercises like headstands, shoulder stands and rock and roll should be avoided as it may exert undue pressure on their tender spine. Also, children should not be forced unduly to perform yoga. It is imperative to understand that each child is different in temperament, physical attributes and capacity to sustain physical challenges. Hence, they should tread gently towards yoga poses and do just as much as they can easily perform. Children should be encouraged to perform yoga under expert supervision and any pre-existing medical condition should be brought to notice to the yoga trainer. 

"Children should initially try focusing on leg balancing and standing asanas and avoid forward and back bending exercises. They can try Tree Pose, Warrior 3 Pose, Eagle Pose, Triangle Pose, Side Angle Pose, Aeroplane Pose, Butterfly Pose, Bridge Pose, and then move on to Downward-facing Dog Pose, Wide leg forward Stretch Pose, etc., and add Surya Namaskar, Pranayama and Meditation in their routine too. Teenagers, on the other hand, can do more intense practice and add back bending poses as energy uplifting and forward bending as to experience more calmness within. But certain precautions must be observed, and asanas should be done under the supervision of an expert," says Dheeraj Vashistha, yoga guru and founder of Vashistha Yoga.

Some basic Do’s and Don’t for beginners:

Dos 

1. A well-rested body: Best results of yoga can be achieved with a body that has rested well overnight with sound sleep.

2.  Empty stomach: Do make sure to have not taken any heavy meals before doing yoga, preferably empty stomach. 

3. Clean and ventilated environment: Yoga should be done in a clean and airy room with the inflow of fresh air and sunshine.

4. Yoga is not a hurried affair: Yoga should not be done hurriedly, do each pose/asana at ease and in a proper way. Do not just be in a hurry to finish it off.

5. Do not hold urine: During yoga practice, toxins from the body is excreted through urine, hence do not hold the urge to pass urine. 

6. Keep yourself hydrated: During yoga if you feel thirsty, you can take small sips of water. Do not dehydrate yourself.

7. Sweat is okay: During yoga, you can sweat a little. Let the sweat dry up naturally, though if it is little more, gently wipe it off with a soft cloth.

Mumbai-based Ravinder Kaur (in yellow) and Jasmeet Kaur, who went on to start YogaZoo way back in 2007 to popularise the practice of yoga among toddlers, children and their parents, believe that yoga is a complete form of education that aids the holistic enhancement of the child. The duo has formulated unique, fun-based programmes to channelise the individual need of every child, right from the age of eight months. Yes, that’s the age when a baby is initiated into yoga, and if you are wondering why Ravinder gives a succinct reason, “A child emulates his or her parents, and through that concept of observation, we encourage the mother to let their child be. Practising Yoga with the mother not only builds deeper bonds but also helps in making yoga a habit.” Their programme caters to three age groups - 8-18 months (Baby Yogazoo), 2-6 years (Pre-schoolers) and 7-14 years (Yuktaha Yoga), and is based on the mantra that Atha Yoga Anushasan. “Yoga begins with discipline and leads to a harmonious personality. The habit of practising yoga daily, if taught early in life, leads to heightened physical stamina, balanced emotions and elevated intellectual and creative skills,” explains Jasmeet.

Don’ts 

1. No immediate showers: Do not take a shower immediately after performing yoga. Take a gap of at least 30-45 minutes between yoga and showers.

2. Do not overstrain yourself: After doing yoga, do not perform strenuous exercises.

3. Refrain when sick: When you are ill or have suffered sprains, muscular pains, fractures, refrain from doing yoga. The idea is not to exert the body.

4. Children should not be forced: Children should be gently convinced towards yoga and should not be forced. Children should first start with simple breathing and simple exercises then slowly proceed further.

5. No yoga in a closed room: Try not to do yoga in a completely closed room. The room in which you perform yoga should be airy and well ventilated with fresh air.

MOTHER SPEAKS

“The key is to keep it simple and short. Kids are much more flexible than an adult, but they are not so swift initially. Become a kid yourself, teach them in a fun way and correct their postures but do that by degrees. Never force them so that they don’t take it as a workout or as a forced drill. It should be fun for them. There are many innovative ways to make the staid asanas interesting for children. I have added some twist. I ask them to become a butterfly, and they show me butterfly asana, to become a cow, and they show me cow pose or to become a tree, and they show me tree pose. I also add storytelling and some hula hoop to fill in the rest time between two asanas because it’s not easy for kids to follow a long yoga flow.” 
Neha Bangia Gulati, blogger, fitness trainer and winner of Mrs India Delhi NCR 2018 and Mrs India Superfit Goddess 2018 titles, and a mother of two, Evan and Mira.

Patna-based Deepa Sehara, blogger and mother of a son, says, "My son Milind had some health issues when he was two. He has been practising Anulom-Vilom for past couple of years, diligently following the lessons imparted in school and is now healthier, happier and and more agile. And yes, I must credit my son for initiating me into yoga. I was not into it till a couple of years ago, but now my son makes me sit and practise with him, almost daily."

Some yoga centers across the county: 

1. Yoga Zoo
Mumbai 
Maharashtra
+918879368564
https://www.facebook.com/yogazoo/

2. Akshar Yoga
Bengaluru
Karnataka
+919986121226
080-40952324
Info@aksharyoga.com 
https://www.facebook.com/aksharyoga/

3. Yog Gokul
979, 5th Floor, 
Keerthi’s Cloud 9, 
AVS Layout, 
Near Maharaja Junction, 
Koramangala 4th Block, 
Bengaluru 560034
Karnataka  
+919562380703 
info@yoggokul.com
www.yoggokul.com 

4. Kranti Yoga Community
Beach Resort House No 135 
Patnem Beach, 
Canacona, 
Goa 403702
+919823984494
www.Krantiyoga.com
Ashtangagoa@gmail.com

5. Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre
Dharamshala, 
Himachal Pradesh 176219
+919816611075

6. The Yoga Chakra
E -297, GK2, Main Road, 
New Delhi 110048
+919873143702

7. Iyengar Yoga Centre 
87, North Ex Model Town, 
Phase 2, Model Town, 
Delhi, 110009
011-47005549
+919958468188
info@iyengaryogadelhi.com

8. Dibakar Yogarathi Institute
Garia, Laskarpur Peyara Bagan, 
Kolkata 700153 
West Bengal 
+919339058372

9. Sattva Yoga Studio
249 Jodhpur Park, 
Kolkata 700068, 
West Bengal 
+919088025226

10. Monad Yoga Studio
No: 5, 2nd Avenue, 
Besant Nagar, 
Chennai 600090 
Tamil Nadu
+919176065555 

11. DYFC Dharamvir Yoga Fitness Classes
#3184, Sector 28D, 
Top Floor, Near Pal Dhabha, 
Chandigarh 160020
+919780607035

(Lead photo: YogaZoo, Mumbai) 
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