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

Yoga and Todays Children

The Importance of Yoga and Mindfulness for Today’s Children

Yoga is a hot commodity in America these days. We see it at the local YMCA’s and health clubs. We see it in trendy shops around our community, offered on tape at local booksellers, and even in some of our more posh food markets. Obesity is on the rise (especially in our children) and many people are looking for something more interesting or different than “plain old exercise”. It would seem that in our busy culture, we are seeking something a little more exciting than belly crunches and step machines to help us trim up. Many people are turning to yoga because it is different and offers us more than just trim abs. Yoga is a way of reducing our stress and centering us back on track with our life. My big question to the powers that be though is- if it works so great for us adults, how come more of us parents don’t push our children to practice it! I sometimes think that we are hording this great secret away from them because this is OUR time to be alone and de-stress. We’re older, after all, and we need it more than they do, don’t we? I couldn’t disagree more…

Yoga offers children the same physical health benefits as it does to us adults, but it offers them something far more important. It offers them mindfulness. Mindfulness is the Zen practice of removing everything stressful from your mind and just catching yourself being in the moment. Oh no! Did I say Zen!! Not an Eastern practice in our culture! Clearing the mind is a bad thing, right! We shouldn’t do that here! First off, when we all settle down for bed at night, we release all of our thoughts and body tension in order to sleep. Secondly, every one of us at some point in our lives has been mindful, but it was usually some very special event or something we wanted to treasure. By practicing mindfulness while doing yoga, we become acutely attuned to our surroundings and the moment. This process is basically what 19th century Western Romanticism was asking us to do. Stop for a moment and smell the flowers. Take time to feel the breeze on your face. Remove your stressful thoughts for a while and concentrate on how green the leaves are around you. Once you realize this, you will see just how important yoga and mindfulness are as tools for children.

When most of us older than 25 went to school, it was a different world than what it is for today’s kids. We didn’t bring home 4 hours of homework, we didn’t worry about being harassed over what brand of shoes we wore and labels like ADD/ADHD were uncommon. Our kids have stresses on them that we can’t imagine. As a parent of two school-age daughters, I think it very important to try and promote mindfulness in their daily lives. This doesn’t mean sitting in lotus position for hours chanting, but it does mean finding a peaceful place to sit, clear away the daily worry and just appreciate the moment. After all, what’s past is gone and the future isn’t here yet. Try helping your child to embrace a peaceful moment, feeling the grass under their feet and the sound of the wind. These memories will be like important luggage taken on a long stressful trip. It’s there for whenever you need it!