Yoga is a union between body and mind, it is physical activity that includes breath, meditation and various poses. While it is not the only exercise you should do, it is a wonderful addition to any physical regiment. It provides much needed stretching and prevents neck and back problems, it is calming and helps relieve stress. But why is yoga important for kids?
Children are already flexible, so you may think yoga is something they don’t need right now. There are many other fitness programs that are more effective in strength training, like swimming or gymnastics.
Well, yoga can provide something no other fitness class can:
- It is non-competitive and healthy exercise (much harder than it looks)
- Helps manage stress, not over-stimulating, helps to calm down
- Breathing exercises are very relaxing, healthy hormones are released
- As lung capacity is increased, focus is improved, not only in yoga, but in other aspects of life
- Improves balance and self-control
- Beneficial to all kids, but especially those with special needs by improving focus, calming down, finding quiet and helping to make right decisions
- Teaches to listen and be respectful
Yoga and religion
Some parents worry that yoga may carry some religious association. To avoid any confusion most teachers of kids yoga use western names for the poses, like cat, cow, table, bridge and avoid talking about the spiritual. But some will tell stories about Buddha, Ganesha, Krishna that most kids love. Teaching of yoga always brings positive energy, learning to do more with less, to be in peace with people and nature around you.
Origins of yoga, how it came to America
Yoga originated 5,000 years ago in India. But it went through so many changes it is hard to say how much of an ancient practice is with us today.
In 1893, a young Indian monk called Swami Vivekananda spoke at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. It was an interfaith outreach and most people were blown away by his 6 lecture presentation, he drew more attention than any other speaker. Vivekananda went on to publish many works on Yoga and Buddhism spreading the word in the United States.
In 1947 In the United States yoga was popularized by Indra Devi (born in Russia, escaped to Germany during revolution and learned yoga in India). Devi opened one of the first yoga studios in Hollywood and became a minor celebrity when famous actors and actresses began to frequent her lessons. She promised to prolong youth and health and many flocked to her studios.
After 1965 when restrictions on travel to the US from Asia were lifted, various Indian gurus came to the US. New movements and teachings slowly spread, ashrams and yoga centers were opened. Today Yoga is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Bergen county studios that have Kids yoga classes
Ho-Ho-Kus Yoga in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ
Bloom Yoga in Fair Lawn, NJ