It's the exercise that everyone can do: Yoga. Well known for its ability to calm, engage and focus, Yoga is more mainstream than ever. What I love about Yoga is the ability to stretch and strengthen, to center and expand both the mind and the body. Yoga is ageless and beneficial for babies to seniors. Yoga can be used alone or in combination with aromatherapy to achieve a more heightened response.
Some key benefits include:
Improved AttentionYoga is slow paced and requires focus. Participants have to look, listen and feel. As a position is held, it often requires concentration to maintain balance as well.
Decreased AggressionThe calm and gentle yoga movements can have prolonged effects. Many participants have claimed that Yoga creates a calm that they feel long after class is over.
Postural ControlYoga encourages individuals to stretch and then hold while engaging the core and extremities. This can lead to better posture, position and presentation.
Motor Planning and CoordinationSo how do I get my foot over there? We're often not aware of where our bodies are in space or how we exactly get them moving. Yoga's movements are purposeful and force us to focus not just on a position but also on getting in and out of it.
Following DirectionsThis goes along with improved attention but really tests the ability to follow through with a sequence of steps improving eye contact and auditory skills as well.
FlexibilityWow, that's tight. Flexibility is crucial to long term wellness. Tight musculature can cause back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain and just about any sort of musculoskeletal misalignment. Ongoing yoga participation can stretch out those tight muscles.
Social SkillsYoga can be done individually or with a partner but yoga classes encourage well being and social skills.
Help with SleepPart of Yoga is learning to breath properly. This can also have a calming effect. My favorite part of yoga? Shavasana! It's like a well-deserved nap at the end of a class. Be sure not to skimp on Shavasana as it closes the yoga session leaving participants feeling calm and connected. But truthfully Yoga has been noted to have great effect on sleep. Try offering Yoga before bedtime for a direct effect on sleep.
OK, so maybe it sounds a bit like a magic pill but truthfully just about anyone can participate in a yoga class. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to try out a month of Yoga classes at a new facility. Having a sore hip, I was a bit hesitant. Though my hip is not fixed, it definitely felt more at ease and improved in mobility after just one class. I love how a good Yoga class can get deep into a muscle and leave you feeling renewed.
If you are starting your kids in a Yoga class, make sure they have proper attire and matting. There's not much else you need other than the desire to grow, learn, stretch and strengthen.
Some classes offer blocks, straps, bolsters and blankets but kids are pretty easy to please when it comes to Yoga and they love the challenge of the imbalance and the "oh wow" of a tight muscle. And, Yoga can be combined with occupational therapy, physical therapy and even some fun props such as therapy balls. For kids of every ability, try our Yoga Deck for Kids on the Ball with 44 poses and activity cards.