Sun salutes and mindfulness for children are proving more and more popular – here’s why you should consider scheduling a calming class for your little ones.
The benefits of practicing yoga are well known. As well as being relaxing - yoga helps us to maintain a balanced metabolism and increase muscle strength and tone. It helps with weight loss, respiration, energy and vitality, and is great for our cardio and circulatory health.
So why should time on the mat be limited to our later adult years?
The first students of Krishnamacharya, the man typically credited with creating most of the modern yoga we practice today, were mostly boys about 12 years old.
In Australia, there is also a push to have mindfulness – a concept close to the core of yoga – included in the national education curriculum by 2020. The idea is being led by non-profit meditation app Smiling Mind, and follows Australian research showing the benefits for children’s sleep and concentration.
Amongst a whole host of new kid-specific yoga courses and studios is Move + Make in Melbourne. Founded by Sarah Blangiardo, Move and Make’s philosophy is quite simple. “Let’s make the next generation aware, kind, and most of all – happy,” she says.
Sarah started the business after months of quiet reflection of what was most important to her. “Yoga has been a constant in my life for the past eight years,” she explains. “The effects of my practice have only ever been positive.”
“I want to teach the tools I have learnt to kids, so that when they get in anxious situations they are more aware of what is actually happening, and know how to slow down the mind to approach it all in the best way.”
According to Sarah, children who practice yoga may not only be better at regulating their emotions, managing stress, and calming themselves – some studies have shown that yoga kids may also choose better foods to eat and actively engage in more physical activity.
For the moment, Move + Make travels to childcare centres and kindergartens throughout Melbourne, where Sarah instructs groups of 3 – 5 year olds. “ We provide a beautiful interplay between movement and drama,” she says. “This age group are visual learners, so we use a lot of props and visual images that serve to take us on an adventure.”
Class always starts with a song “to create movement and energy in the group.” Then the group will decide on an adventure to go on, and the ‘adventure’ is made up of a series of yoga poses. For Sarah, “Anything can be turned into yoga!”
Once the yoga adventure is over, kids enjoy settling down into some quiet time and meditation. “This may include craft making, colouring in, or simply just laying on their backs and listen to quiet music or spoken visualisation.”
For Sarah, the benefits of yoga should be shared with everyone – young or old. Namaste!
Try out some of Sarah's favourite yoga poses for parents and kids here. Or listen to Move + Make's playlists (complete with adventure discriptions) here. Expecting? Try out our top proses for pregnant women here.