A simple yoga practice has an enormous effect on children. Yoga at an early age, sculpts young minds and bodies, giving tools that will enhance and support children to be balanced, creative, and calm individuals with a strong sense of who they are in relation to the world. It encourages self esteem, concentration and body awareness and the ability to steer your way smoothly through life’s challenges. Physically, yoga enhances coordination, it has a powerful effect on brain development, and brings heightened focus.
Increasingly, children are overstimulated, bombarded by stress and the pressure to achieve in a world flooded with information. Yoga is an amazing tool for life that teaches them somatic ways to release stress and bring their body back into equilibrium. With the latest research showing that young adults are the most stressed out age group in the USA, learning simple and fun techniques to combat stress at a young age, is a tremendous way to prevent later breakdowns and anxiety disorders or depression. Yoga builds strength, confidence and resilience, and a strong body is able to digest food well, breathe better and withstand stress. The practice of yoga can help children to self regulate and is a wonderful aid to mental health conditions and attention disorders.
According to Jodi Komitor, a leading authority on yoga for kids, the practice of yoga:
- Maintains Flexibility and strengthens growing bodies
- Enhances concentration
- Increases Self Esteem
- Teaches present moment awareness
- Cultivates a peaceful, relaxed state of body and mind
- Gives tools for stress management
- Sparks creativity in ripe imaginations
- Encourages kind peer and social interactions
- Enhances body awareness
- Teaches Discipline and responsibility
Yoga is a wonderful resource for children with untold benefits that can dramatically impact their lives and their future in so many ways.
Giving Kids Yoga in Bali
Kelly Moore is the founder of Give Kids Yoga and has been living as an expat in Bali, Indonesia for a few years now. She shares her story about how her yoga practice turned into something a lot more meaningful than simple performing asana for her own health.
“Quite by chance I met a Balinese man by the name of Dewa Ramawa in Ubud one evening in a language sharing social group called Bahassa Café. I got great “vibes” from this man from the very start. I could tell there was something special about him.”
As fate would have it, Dewa is a Kundalini yoga teacher. Yoga is generally thought to be exclusive to tourists in Bali, however, Dewa learned yoga from his mother and his grandmother and has been teaching for many years now. Dewa’s mother is 103 years old and still teaches yoga. I have since had the honour of being in their home while she was going through her early morning yoga practice. It was astonishing. She looks like a radiant young woman when she is doing her asanas.
Bali, with its warm tropical climate and air of mystical secrets is a popular destination for yoga tourism. It draws hoards of people seeking to unlock its secrets and enrich their lives through yoga and healthy living. It is speckled with health and healing retreats, raw foods and yoga studios. If you happen to be one of the lucky enough seekers to make it beyond the yoga studio walls and raw food restaurants, there is a humbling beauty in the Balinese people and their culture that is unlike any other.
One day after my very early morning yoga session with Dewa, he walked me out to my motorbike through a different part of the family compound than I had entered through. I was surprised to find myself walking through a classroom full of eager young students waiting on their teacher.
It turns out Dewa’s yoga practice extends far beyond the mat. He has been volunteering his time teaching these Balinese kids English and yoga for many years now. He started out with just four students and now has over 100 kids he works with. He does this all free of any charge to their families. He even saves his money to buy them yoga mats and proper clothes to practice in, one at a time as he can afford it. I looked at these precious kids and this devoted teacher and immediately knew that I wanted to help.
Before Dewa began teaching yoga to the children he asked them what they thought about yoga. They said yoga is expensive, difficult and only for tourists.
Dewa has seen an amazing transformation in the children he teaches.
Many of our students have no self confidence. After they learn yoga they have self confidence and they want to learn more and they think positively. When they can think positively, they learn more. And when they learn more, they get better at school. Many of our students after learning yoga have very good performance at school. They really change after they learn yoga.
Ati has been learning yoga for five years. She says yoga is good for her health. Little Aninidita says there are many children who want to learn yoga. Dewa says he is so happy with the change in the children, and the number of kids learning yoga is growing fast.
“We guide them to be good people. To be honest, not angry, not complaining and spiritually they can control their emotions. We develop their characters. From a little kid I would like to teach them how to face their life in the future so they can enjoy their life and they can have fun in their life. So they can face their problems and not hide from their problems. They try to solve them.”
In my time with Dewa and these kids, there is one thing that stands out more than anything else. They are focused in a way that I have never witnessed in a group of children before. Kids this age generally have the attention span of a goldfish. Their classes with Dewa have not only improved their ability to focus and concentrate, it has impacted their emotional stability and their performance in school.
It seems to me that if children all over the world had access to this fundamental skill set, our world would be a better place. Imagine our future generations of children getting off to a better start and what they may be able accomplish in improving the condition of life on the planet.
If you feel motivated to participate as I have, there are several things you can do to help. Click this link to donate money to help buy these kids some yoga mats and clothes to practice in. You can also look into yoga programs offered for children in your own communities and see how you can help them provide this opportunity to more kids. It can also be as easy as donating your extra yoga mat to a child that needs it.