Y is for Yoga

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Does your child know how to do the cobra, butterfly or roaring lion? Not, in fact, the latest dance moves or swimming styles, but yoga poses. In the fast-paced, busy lifestyles we tend to live today, maybe it’s time to breathe deeply, balance our bodies and say yes to yoga…

Words by Nadia Duncan

It’s hard to be a kid sometimes and deal with all the distractions and temptations of modern life. While it’s easy for a worn-out parent longing for ‘just five minutes peace’ to suggest to an over-excited child that they should ‘chill out and calm down’, perhaps the long-term solution to creating a utopia of quiet at home, or in a classroom, is to actually demonstrate how. After all, to some children, the concept of being still and calm on occasion is as alien as eating sprouts because you like them.

Enthusiasts and yoga teachers describe many benefits for young people that can come from learning yoga, including developing body awareness and learning to use their bodies in a healthy way; learning to managing stress through breathing techniques and meditation; enhancing flexibility, building the ability to focus and concentrate and increasing confidence and positive self-image.

Jamie Amor founded Cosmic Kids Yoga with her husband Martin in 2012 when they posted their first YouTube video, Squish the Fish (since viewed over one million times). Passionate about making yoga and meditation fun and free online for kids, Jamie can lay claim to being one of the world’s most popular yoga teachers with a YouTube following of up to 100,000 children every day.

On the benefits of kids taking up yoga Jamie says: “There seems to be pretty universal agreement across a wide range of disciplines that it is officially good for you! This is no surprise to those of us who do yoga, or see kids doing yoga, but it’s great news nonetheless! This list of benefits is the outcome of various conversations I’ve had with teachers, childcare professionals, occupational therapists, parents, physiotherapists, nutritionists and children – and the collected wisdom of some great reference books…”

“The word yoga comes from Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. It means union, integration, or wholeness. It is an approach to health that promotes the harmonious collaboration of the human being’s three components: body, mind, and spirit”. Stella Weller

Physical benefits

  • Helps develop the right balance of muscle tone and strength throughout the body to support the joints.
  • Builds core strength for good posture and overall physical fitness.
  • Helps to maintain flexibility and mobility in all joints and muscles.
  • Supports and strengthens the immune system by reducing stress and stimulating the lymph system (the body’s highway of white blood cells which fight viruses and infections).
  • Improves balance, alignment and coordination with practice of postures.
  • Helps children develop a positive image of their body and an awareness of how to look after it.
  • Develops sensory awareness – kids learn to notice what’s going on in their body and mind while they’re in postures.
  • Yoga can accommodate all body shapes and sizes and is not competitive, so it’s a good form of exercise for non-sporty kids too.
  • Keeps the heart and respiratory system fit and strong, encouraging better circulation by getting the heart pumping and using more of the space in the lungs with deeper breathing.
  • A reduced risk of injury in sports and games with better overall fitness and coordination gained through yoga practice and better flexibility in the joints. 

    “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”
    Peace Pilgrim

Mental, emotional and social benefits

  • Kids build compassion and empathy for themselves and others through a non-competitive environment in class.
  • More oxygen circulates round the body and brain during yoga practice and breathing exercises, so improving memory retention and learning ability.
  • Kids build self-confidence because they can do the yoga, and by relating to inspirational stories and role models.
  • The stories encourage self-expression with the use of imagination and creativity, physical postures and vocal sound effects.
  • Kids get better at dealing with anxiety and stress because they learn to incorporate relaxation and breathing techniques into daily life.
  • The stories support curriculum learning – especially Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE).
  • Improves relationships and social awareness through group and partner work and role-playing in stories.
  • Encourages healthy sleep patterns with the practice of relaxing the body and lengthening the breath.
  • Increases confidence with speech in interactive parts of the stories and improves vocal ability as the voice is exercised in tandem with postures.
  • Encourages joy and a positive outlook with fun stories and a happy experience during their yoga class.

In schools, where yoga is part of the daily curriculum, teachers have observed that children are able to concentrate better and experience less stress.

So if you feel your home, or classroom, is in need of more ‘Namaste’ and less ‘going nuts’, think about getting your kids, or yourself, some yoga in your life. There are fantastic classes happening in your local area which will help your child secure these benefits. Now deep breath in, release… and relax.

Find A Class Near You

All children are special. Each child holds within themselves the seeds of limitless potential. specialyoga.org.uk

Help young children understand that happiness can come from within at…

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Children’s Yoga at Santosa, Edinburgh

Children love yoga and Roz’s classes are a great opportunity for them to experience this joyful, fun yet profound practice in a light-hearted environment. Exploring poses, breathing exercises, relaxation and mindfulness techniques in an age appropriate style.

As with adults, the benefits of yoga are many and are not limited only to the physical aspects. Yoga helps children of all ages to develop their confidence and a positive body image. It strengthens their sense of mind-body connection too and can help them find their voice whilst learning to understand their emotions. By exploring the wholeness of yoga, and all it offers, they’ll also experience a calm and peaceful sleep!

Parents can take their own time out in Santosa’s Yoga Café – the perfect space for brothers or sisters to spend some quality time with you, or catching up on their homework before heading down to their class.

Having trained with the UK’s leading Special Yoga Foundation, Roz offers therapeutic yoga for all children, including those with additional needs. Email: studio.santosa.co.uk, Tel:  0131 555 6255 or visit studio@santosa.co.uk

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Tatty Bumpkin, Edinburgh West 

Baby and Child Yoga for ages 0 to 7 years 

Tatty Bumpkin offers fun, yoga activity sessions with stories and music, introducing yoga poses adapted appropriately for the age group, breath awareness and relaxation techniques. The sessions encourage:

  • Co-ordination, balance, strength and flexibility – important for physical health and wellbeing, critical foundations for writing and learning and for other sports and dancing.
  • Concentration, attention and confidence – the mixture of fast and slow paced activities, the warm and supportive nature of the classes, promote attention skills and confidence.What people say: 

“I highly recommend the Tatty Bumpkin sessions. They’re cleverly designed, and the activities are well pitched. They are really good for development – my daughter was doing and thinking things here that she wasn’t doing anywhere else. The sessions are also huge fun.”  

“Tatty Bumpkin combines lovely storytelling with the discovery of yoga. My little ones loved it.”  

“If Mummy suggests lying down to relax, my wee boy enthusiastically agrees, saying ‘like at Tatty Bumpkin’.”

Weekly parent and child sessions are available on Friday mornings for babies, toddlers and 2 to 5-year-olds at Holy Corner, Bruntsfield. Or ask your nursery or school to get in touch to book sessions.

Find the website at tattybumpkin.com/edinburghwest email: edinburghwest@tattybumpkin.com or Tel: 07411 571001 (mobile).

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The Yoga Room

The Yoga Room is a boutique studio located in central Edinburgh and the team are excited to be offering a Children’s Yoga and Mindfulness class. Unlike most children’s yoga classes, their class also includes mindfulness throughout the class, as well as meditation, helping children to begin to learn self-soothing techniques, concentration, and a sense of wellbeing. In each class kids will learn fun breathing techniques to help them connect with their bodies in the present moment, thus also helping to calm the mind. They also include positive affirmations throughout the class to increase self-esteem.

Themed classes stimulates the children’s imagination allowing them to be creative, supporting individuality and self -expression. Throughout this class a strong connection is built between what the children hear and do. Through postures, including more challenging balancing poses, aids with focus, builds muscle, and increases balance and coordination. They also include group work, thus building trust with others and supporting children’s sense of universal connectedness.

This children’s yoga class is a safe, non-competitive environment and is therefore a healthy place for them to meet new friends. The next course runs from January 20 until March 10, 2017 on Fridays from 1:45pm to 2:30pm and costs £48 for eight weeks. Or try it out with a drop-in class for just £8!

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