‘On a regular basis, findings from research, highlight concerns about the physical and mental health of both adults and children. A variety of proposals and suggestions have been made to deal with these issues, including the imposition of a ‘sugar tax’ to combat obesity and the training and recruitment of more mental health professionals. One thing is clear, combating these health issues, requires a multi faceted approach, where professionals work with families and communities to change and promote healthy living habits.
One of the little considered techniques we can utilise is the ancient science and art of yoga, practised either individually, or practised as a shared experience with our children – welcome to the world of family yoga. There are a number of myths and a lack of understanding about the benefits of yoga….
…consists of a number of different techniques, including physical stretching and balancing poses (asanas) which strengthen both the external body and the functioning of our internal organs, breathing techniques to promote detoxification and body cleansing (pranayama) and relaxation and meditation practices.
…is non competitive, non threatening and accessible: everyone’s body is different, some are more flexible than others, some are physically stronger than others. Whatever your level of fitness, yoga is beneficial as a form of physical exercise for everyone and family yoga is the opportunity to value and share our individual strengths and to support each other in developing our physical bodies in a fun and interactive way. By developing a yoga practise, we develop confidence and research has shown this helps children build their self esteem.
…increases flexibility and balance, which in turn tones muscles gently and safely, so we are less prone to physical accidents and injuries. Weight bearing exercise also promotes the growth of strong and healthy bones.
…enhances concentration: in an world full of external stimuli, balancing poses and meditation/relaxation practices encourage us to develop our focus, turning our attention inwards, so we can learn how to sit still! This builds attention span, so we, including our children can retain and process information more easily.
…enhances the quality of relationships: participating in an activity with your children, helps you to spend quality time together and to share an experience as equals. Classes are fun and involve partner work, promoting a deeper respect for each other and help you to build trusting relationships. The techniques learnt can then be reinforced and practised anywhere with little or no equipment on a regular and preferably daily basis to establish healthy living pratices.
…relaxes the mind and increases awareness: Our lives and days are full of activity and work as we seek to improve ourselves and our children. It is no wonder research and statistics show we are a society which is becoming more stressed. The short and long term affects of stress are well documented and can lead to anxiety, poor sleep patterns, increased conflict, physical health problems and depression. Working closely with young children (under the age of 4) and then more independently with children from as young as 4 or 5, yoga provides self help techniques they can access to help them relax and de-stress when they feel upset or depressed.
A regular yoga practise can help to calm both the mind and body, which are inextricably linked; this union of mind and body is the very essence of yoga – these are the ingredients of a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Namaste (greeting you with respect)
Anjli runs YogaBelliesKidz classes in schools and nurseries and family yoga private classes from birth to teen. For more information, contact [insert contact details]’