It’s quite common to hear about the many benefits of yoga and mindfulness for adults. However, it’s benefits for children can sometimes be overlooked. It is possible to practice yoga and mindfulness from any age, and with it comes a magnitude of developmental benefits, physically and mentally.
What is mindfulness and why is it important?
Mindfulness is the practice of anybody, young or old, tuning in and paying attention to their own thoughts and feelings and learning to accept them. In children, the practice of mindfulness helps in optimising health, well-being and happiness as well as aiding them in learning vital life skills that they can take with them through life. Practicing mindfulness has many benefits, it can be used as an intervention for behavioural challenges, improves sleep quality (sleep alone without any kinds of toddler sleep problems) and results in heightened focus when practiced regularly. Recent studies suggest that stressful events in early childhood can directly contribute to physical and mental health problems, mindfulness can help to reduce this stress.
Easy ways which you can practice mindfulness
- Breathing activities- encourage your child to lie flat on their back and place their hands on their tummy. Support them in taking a deep breath in through their nose and out through their mouth, counting if it helps. Encourage your child to feel the movement of their tummy as it moves up and down with each breath.
- Listen to some calm music- there are strong links between the use of calm and soft music and relaxation in children. It might be a good idea to play this kind of music when practicing mindfulness activities to help your child engage better and relax more.
- Story telling activities which encourage your child to use their imagination and visualise as they listen are really good to support children in relaxing their mind. Start with a short, simple and familiar story before building up to longer and more complex ones. This is excellent in developing your child’s early listening and attention skills.
- Balance activities and yoga poses. Yoga and mindfulness go hand in hand, simple yoga poses which encourage children to focus on their balance and co-ordination are great ways to practice being mindful.
- Support your child in recognising their feelings and emotions and encourage them to talk about their feelings. It may help if you use a visual representation initially to help your child link together the feeling and emotion. Ensure that your child is aware that it is ok to feel this way and if it is a negative emotion that they are feeling, together you can find a solution to help them feel better. For example, if your child is angry because somebody has taken their toy you may practice taking deep breaths or counting to 10 when they start to feel this emotion.
Yoga is an excellent way to practice mindfulness. When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life’s challenges with a little more ease. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that’s noncompetitive. Below are some more advantages of yoga for children;
- Helps develop physical co-ordination, balance and body awareness- during yoga children are encouraged to move their bodies into positions that they may not have experienced before, helping to improve their balance and co-ordination skills
- Physical strength- getting themselves into the pose and holding it for a period of time naturally helps to develop muscle strength.
- Yoga helps concentration- When participating in yoga activities children are required to concentrate as they focus on moving their bodies into different poses and follow directions.
- Helps to build self-esteem and confidence- trying new things really helps to build a child’s self-esteem and confidence, you will find that the more it is practiced the more confident they will become.
Here at the Little Dreamers Nursery , this British nursery in Dubai we implement yoga and mindfulness into our daily planning and schedule. We practice relaxation to calm and soft music, yoga poses and breathing techniques.
If you need any further information or activity ideas, please feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help!