Last month my friend Bree invited me to photograph her girls in studio, pre class, where the two of them have been spending a fair share of their summer afternoons learning the basics of yoga. I had been curious as to what that actually entailed at their level so I was delighted to come watch Finely, 9, and Emerson, 6, in action. Aside from their obvious enthusiasm for the practice, I was completely impressed watching their concentration while securing a steady sense of balance, pushing their flexibility to the limits, trying to maximize each new stance. And, they were having a heck of a lot of fun showing me a series of these poses!
The little that I did know about the benefits of young yoga was that it was seen as beneficial to kids because of what it teaches them early on. By way of improved body awareness, the added component of a “mind-body connection” in the formative stages of develop. Reading up about it I found a few more interesting ideas behind the importance of it, online, via PARENTS in which Shana Meyerson, the founder of mini yogis (miniyogis.com) helps to explain how yoga works to better establish healthy self-esteem and self-respect.
“A child’s yoga practice is a rare opportunity to experience play and focus without worrying about being wrong,” she says. Meyerson believes that yoga is an option for children who shy away from physical activity or group activities for fear of failure or being picked last, and it helps athletic children excel in other physical activities and sports. Christina Enneking, the founder of Heart Happy Yoga, a studio in Los Gatos, California, believes yoga introduces cornerstone values “such as non-harming, truthfulness, moderation, cleanliness, gratitude, and self-discipline.” There are five key areas where kids benefit from the practice of yoga, and each of them improves their overall well-being.
It Enhances Physical Flexibility Yoga promotes physical strength because kids learn to use all of their muscles in new ways. Whether a pose is done standing, sitting, or lying down, each one can challenge various muscle groups while helping a child become aware of his body and how it efficiently functions.
It Refines Balance and Coordination Balance is a key element of yoga. Balancing poses were created to promote mental and physical poise, as mental clarity and stability emerge from the effort of trying the poses. Even if a child has difficulty standing on one foot, she learns mental and physical balance if she can stay calm when she falls and when she gets up to try again. As children learn to improve their physical balance, they will be filled with a sense of accomplishment. Coordination is also closely tied to balance and promotes overall dexterity. Some yoga teachers and occupational therapists use finger yoga and other specialized techniques to help children with gross and fine motor coordination.
It Develops Focus and Concentration The act of practicing poses encourages children to clear their mind and focus on the effort. As a result of this single focus to achieve a particular pose or stay balanced, yoga helps children to focus and concentrate in school and get better grades, several studies note.
It Boosts Self-Esteem and Confidence Yoga helps to instill confidence and to bring learning to children on an experiential level, Enneking says. “It helps to provide building blocks for the future. It is our responsibility to develop our children’s sense of wonder and to give them a strong sense of self so they know where they belong in this world and can contribute to making their community a better place.” Yoga teaches them to persevere, be patient, and work toward their goals. A yoga teacher can only offer guidance; it is the child who has to work to succeed. Therefore, when a child masters a pose, it gives him confidence and self-esteem. Enneking often describes kids’ yoga as “prehabilitation,” a proactive action to ward off instability or sickness; yoga also provides tools for practicing compassion, mindfulness, generosity, focus, strength, and flexibility.
It Strengthens the Mind-Body Connection Yoga helps kids achieve a sound mind in a sound body by exercising the physical body and calming the mental spirit. “As parents we want our children to act and behave with mindfulness and with compassion, to be brave, to know love and happiness, and to find inner peace,” De Collibus says. “Since the modern world moves very, very fast for children, it’s not long before they feel all kinds of pressure (personal, parental, social) to keep up with everyone around them. Yoga functions as a release valve that alleviates pressure and as a foundation to nurture and develop a resilient and resourceful body, mind, and spirit,” she says.
These photos were shot in Corona at the Young Den. More Info on their website HERE
And for fun, the outtakes, with a little hip hop and fist pumping mixed in.