I'm Angel Bear and I'm here to build character and open children's hearts to nature one pose at a time.

Children and the Environment

How Practicing Yoga can Help Children Appreciate the Environment

I don’t think I have to start off this article pointing out the importance of our environment. Every day we are bombarded with the cold, hard facts of how many species are going extinct at an alarming rate, how many acres of rainforest are being chopped down and how alarming the polar ice is melting. These gloom and doom reports are becoming a fact of life. What we sometimes forget, though, is that these problems affect our next generation…our children. Unfortunately, it becomes apparent that are sons and daughters will be the ones to fight these very real problems. So, how do we as parents start to prepare them for this difficult task? First off, we must teach them to love their world! So many kids are nature-deprived these days, locked indoors because of factors such as crime, both parenting working, and let’s not forget hours of homework. What this is leading to is an under-appreciation of outside activities and nature. Children typically know far more information about video games and the newest electrical gadget than they do the names of flowers growing in their own backyard! Staying shut up indoors is leading us into a generation of poor health habits, obesity and mental stress. Thus, we can now segue into my topic! Yoga and the outdoors!

Why yoga, you may ask? First off, yoga promotes exercise through stretching and movements that can be done virtually anywhere. Likewise, yoga moves can be done in just moments a day and doesn’t require any outdoor equipment (catcher’s mitts, basketball hoops, bad mitten rackets, etc), so any yard, garden or park will do to practice it. Secondly, yoga helps us become more limber so that we can do other sports or exercises that we might not be in the shape for starting out. Yoga likewise helps us to relax and release stress built up from our busy day. All of these are reasons enough to promote yoga, but getting back to nature, how is yoga an exact fit? Let me explain…

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and has essentially been associated with nature because when we are in this relaxed state, we begin to see and reflect on things we normally take for granted or don’t notice in our hurried world. Many yoga poses reflect back to animals and things in our environment, showing how the original practice emulated our world and it’s incredible beauty. It helps us to open our eyes to the world around us – seeing all the beauty and then bringing those positive thoughts into our hearts and minds. Children in this relaxed state will soon begin to see their own backyard in a whole new way. Rather than just a place to throw a ball or ride bikes through, they may begin to see this relaxing place as their own little peaceful haven where they can go to release tension. This leads to further exploration of why the flowers are important to the bees and why certain birds look for worms rather than eat birdseed. It sounds so simplistic, but this really works. Take a child away from their electronic music/game gizmo for a while and place them in this state of rest and they will begin to appreciate their world. Yoga is the fulcrum by which children can receive exercise, relax, and learn to “smell the flowers again”. Don’t we owe it to our children to give them this inner peace so that they can face the environmental challenges ahead and care enough about them to do what’s right. We can also learn so much from the world around us. We can see positive character traits all around in nature – patience, perseverance, trust, acceptance. Our world, our animals, our air, our trees…they are worth fighting for. Let’s help give our kids another tool so that they can face the challenge. That tool is yoga!