Bodies benefit from regular physical activity and it’s more important than ever to keep kids moving while they’re learning from home. We talked with Katrina Anderson, a Family Life Educator and certified children’s yoga instructor from Sanford Health CHILD Services, about distance learning yoga and how you can implement it anywhere!
Yoga is designed to bring mental, physical, and emotional health and balance through body and mind awareness with poses, performed slowly and carefully, that focus on posture and breathing.
Why is yoga important? With kids specifically, yoga encourages mindfulness and helps strengthen their physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Practicing yoga provides physical benefits such as increased muscular strength and endurance, improved sleep quality, and increased body awareness and coordination. Emotional and cognitive benefits of practicing yoga include lowered stress, increased focus and concentration, and improved memory and emotional regulation.
“We live in a busy world where we are hurrying from one thing to the next. Yoga helps to slow us down and bring a sense of calmness to our day,” says Katrina.
How can your students get started? Kids can practice yoga as often as they want, but they will experience the most benefits through regular practice. Kids will experience the same benefits from distanced yoga sessions as they would in person, and often times will be more focused and present due to the smaller session size. If you’re short on time or your students don’t want to do a full yoga session, practice different breathing techniques to encourage mindfulness. According to Katrina, yoga can be utilized as a transition between subjects during the day, or as a break from homework. Ready to flow? Take a look at our fitFlow activity or printable cards to get started!
Here are some tips for success if you’re teaching online:
- Find a streaming platform that you’re comfortable with and if possible, invest in a headset or earbuds that send audio to your device.
- Use background music to eliminate silence between poses and transitions.
- Use direct language to guide your kids. Identify movement, name the body part to move, and the direction to move it.
- Keep the yoga class at 30 minutes or less to maintain engagement with your kids.
- Incorporate rest periods between poses or use mindful breathing techniques.
- Encourage kids to keep trying and do their best, even if they’re struggling. Phrases like ‘Do your best’ or ‘I love how we’re doing this all together’ will encourage them to persevere.
According to Katrina, another tip for success is to make space for your kids to make noises. Children’s minds are constantly flowing, especially when being physically active, so it’s difficult to maintain silence for extended periods of time. Yoga is another opportunity to practice active listening with your students. Tell a story or put one on as background noise, and challenge them to recall as many details as possible after yoga has ended.
What if you’re practicing yoga with your kids at home? First things first, you’ll want to create a space to practice that makes them feel safe and comfortable. According to Katrina, parents and guardians should expect distractions, like the cat walking by or their sibling coming to talk to them, but encourage the child to get back into their flow. An easy way to engage your child is to start with a fun warm up like Simon Says that will get their attention. Keeping the session shorter and at a faster pace will also keep your child more engaged.
Get started today to see the benefits of yoga. You and your kids will be amazed at how awesome you feel when you show up for yourself and give it your best effort.