Kids yoga allows children to explore the world through a fusion of yoga, acrobatics, circus arts, dance, drama, and adventure. Each class should be carefully planned to enhance children’s self-awareness. This is often done through targeted activities working on creative movement, group work, breathing, and meditation. Yoga is fast gaining popularity in Australia, first amongst adults, and now there is a wave of yoga classes for children and teens opening across Brisbane. In a busy age, with additional pressures at school, it makes sense for parents to be looking for external help to provide their kids with an opportunity to build their resilience, reduce their anxiety and build their stores of energy and esteem.
Different types of yoga you might come across
Hatha Yoga. This is one of the main types of yoga practiced in Australia and is an all-encompassing name that covers a whole range of different yoga. Most yoga in Australia is a variation of Hatha. You can expect traditional yoga poses, breathing exercises and a range of different levels of classes.
Ashtanga. More rigorous than Hatha, focused on the dispelling of toxins.
Vinyasa. This is also a staple yoga style with lots of variations. In essence, Vinyasa is focused on one breath per movement and will likely encompass the sun salutations. Vinyasa appears more like a yoga dance thanks to its fluid and smooth motions.
Bikram/Hot Yoga. Unlikely to be offered to children, hot yoga is meant to replicate the heat of India. There is a whole history behind who created it and why, and it is a popular yoga amongst adults in Brisbane.
Anusara Yoga. More about internal work, building and being one with the spirit.
Kundalini Yoga. Expect chakra work and a focus on inner soul work.
What can you expect from a kids yoga class
Each kids’ yoga class should be filled to the brim with creative expression, providing children with the opportunity to playfully explore their innate creativity and wonder. The classes should offer games, and children will be taken on an inner journey as they explore the possibilities of mindfulness and what that means to them in an age-appropriate way. The teacher should explore various forms of meditation, from stories and visualisations, to mandala creation, bubble blowing and breathwork. Children’s yoga classes should be laying the base foundation of understanding the breath, body movement and time away from busy lives and internal chatter.
Kids Yoga Classes in Brisbane
Shining Self Space in Ashgrove / The Gap – Shining Self Space is a passionate, inspired, mindful provider of wellbeing workshops and wellbeing and yoga programs for kids and teens aged 5 to 16 years in Brisbane’s inner north. The mission of Shining Self Space is to deliver fun and engaging programs that gently encourage, motivate and empower children and teens to feel more confident, believe in themselves and learn important life skills that will enable them to deal with life’s challenges. Find out more about their term time yoga program and school holiday workshops.
Why choose yoga for your child?
Yoga for children fosters a deep sense of well-being in a child through physical activity that is non-competitive, creative and fun. It allows children to develop social skills such as active listening, communicating, expressing ideas, interpersonal communication, compassion, and understanding. Just as adult yoga teaches adults to unite their body and breath through movement, kids’ yoga allows children to strengthen their connection to the breath and to their own bodies. Mindful practices can help children well beyond childhood. Yoga helps to develop self-confidence, cultivate self-love, and gives children the chance to explore the world through the infinite possibilities of play.
You can read a lot of the studies via http://www.riseyogaforyouth.org/why_it_matters/case_studies, which has collated them all, all being child-specific. If you ever needed some convincing of the benefits of yoga, these studies will help you. Note: Many of the yoga studies are still exploratory in nature and in researching we found there was a caution in guaranteeing anyone result can be replicated, even if it is well controlled. The limitations come from the many different ways in which yoga is taught (from an instructor’s point of view), to the style of yoga, to the individual nuances of each individual. There are also often unaccounted considerations in terms of timing, duration of yoga, and the consistency and length of time in practice (which would lead to more specific recommendations). There is a lot more work to be done, but an overwhelming majority of these exploratory studies show positive benefits for children who practice yoga.
Yoga for Teens
A study by Harvard Medical school conducted an 11-week experiment with youths, with a control group completing 11 weeks of standard school physical activity classes, while another group completed an 11-week yoga program. The results were astounding. The yoga was based on Kripalu yoga (a style of Hatha), with students participating in a range of physical yoga postures together with breathing exercises, meditation as well as learning relaxation techniques. Independent evaluation showed significant improvement in the areas of anger control and fatigue/inertia. They also measured patterns of behaviours in the teens in the program and showed that while those in the control group (phys ed) had patterns of behaviours that worsened over the study, those in the yoga group either improved or remained the same. (See resource 1)
There are a number of case studies that show the remarkable obvious benefits of yoga in school situations with children. More specifically a number of experiments have shown the immediate effects that yoga can have on anxiety disorders. There are also a small number of randomised control trials that support the results of these case studies which we have listed in resources. If you are a teacher looking to implement yoga in your classrooms or schools, then these studies will give you the factual basis you need to show the benefits you can expect in your classroom or school.
The 2011 University of Michigan paper reference in resources linked to studies showing a number of benefits including:
Reduction in anxiety
Improved irritable bowel symptoms
Improved anger control
Improved cognitive ability
There are questions specific to adolescents, like the benefits of practicing before puberty commences, or once it does, and what impact the practice environment might have on the outcome. If you are looking for a yoga class for your teen, then ensure you try and involve them in the process so they have an opportunity to choose a class where they will feel welcome, supported and open to being vulnerable in a group of people. This is why school experiments might offer different results than small group classes outside the classroom, offering a space where students aren’t impacted by peer pressures or expectations.
We love this 5-minute yoga for kids. Quick, easy and can be done before school!
J Behav Health Serv Res. 2012 Jan;39(1):80-90. doi: 10.1007/s11414-011-9249-8. Evaluation of the mental health benefits of yoga in a secondary school: a preliminary randomized controlled trial.
Having a yoga practice at home is no longer a big deal. Thanks to youtube, there are a number of free videos, especially morning yoga that you can do with your children. Let them choose an instructor they prefer.
The 1-minute meditation idea
If you have come to this page it is likely you are worried about your little ones or simply want to set them up for a more restful and peaceful life. You might enjoy the 1 minute meditation technique which you can use with your kids morning or night, or, often as we do, just before we walk into school.
This technique is all based around centering yourself very quickly into your body, into the moment and releasing yourself from the anxiety of the past or the pressure of the future.
You can close your eyes for this OR not- it doesn’t matter!!!
STEP 1 – WHAT CAN YOU SEE?
Think about it. If your eyes are closed- what shapes can you see, colours? If your eyes are open, what is in your foreground? What is further afield? What do the clouds look like?
STEP 2- WHAT CAN YOU SMELL?
Can you smell food? How about your perfume? Or if you are lying with your baby maybe you are lucky enough to have that newborn baby smell right near by.
STEP 3- WHAT CAN YOU HEAR?
What can you hear nearby? Now.. concentrate.. What can you hear outside the room, beyond the trees?
STEP 4- WHAT CAN YOU FEEL?
Maybe you can feel the wind or perhaps the clothes on your body? Step 4 will centre you totally, putting you back into your body.
Remember to breathe. Remember to Smile! NOW you are ready to go!
The great thing about this technique is you can do it anywhere, even while you are walking the dog. If you are in a panic you can just choose one- to get back into the moment, right now, this second, where there are no problems.
THIS MEDITATION TECHNIQUE WORKS WITH KIDS TOO
The best part about this meditation technique is that it works with kids too. Get everyone to sit in a circle with their backs to each other. Lead them through this process. The first dozen times you will find it quite a verbal activity, but slowly this will become second nature- You might just need to say “Hear”, “See”, “Smell”, “Feel”. This is something you can do every day as a family activity. Your kids will LOVE this. Remember it will take them a little while to get used to it, but schedule it in after teeth cleaning at night or before you head out the door in the morning. It’s simply wonderful.