During the summer months’ children can take advantage of the warmer weather and longer days by spending more time outdoors doing yoga. In fact, yoga can be an effective tool for dealing with numerous childhood challenges such as autism, ADHD, obesity, and stress; it teaches not only physical skills such as flexibility, strength, stamina, balance, and coordination, but is also a valuable method of stress reduction through conscious breath and focus.
Your backyard is the perfect place for kids to not only be outside in the fresh air during the summer, but also to enjoy some fun yoga poses. Some children with autism who practice yoga begin to feel more calm and comfortable in their bodies; as a result they begin to experience less anxiety and it becomes easier for them to control their behavior and emotions. Colorful pictures depicting how to do poses can be very helpful for children with autism, as they are visually oriented.
Simply holding Tree pose, for instance, is very effective in helping some autistic children focus and develop their attention. With their feet firmly planted on the ground and their mind focused on breathing, it is much easier to feel a sense of control over themselves and of their surroundings.
Tree pose is also a great posture for some children with ADHD, as it helps them to build better focus and concentration. Yoga helps children with ADHD by boosting attention and focus while reducing impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Besides autism and ADHD, our youth are facing the challenge of obesity. Children are leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and anecdotal reports suggest that yoga can reduce obesity. Kite pose can also be practiced outdoors, and is great for weight loss as it slims the waist and trims excess hip fat.
Lastly, yoga can help children deal with stress. Summer is a great time for kids to destress from the school year, and a number of studies have shown that yoga can not only help reduce worry and anxiety but also enhance one’s mood and overall sense of well-being.
Breathing deeply in and out through the nose can help to reduce stress by calming the body. Nasal breathing gets more oxygen into the lungs and can help prevent hyperventilation and the fight-or-flight response. Encourage kids to practice this deep breathing outdoors in Queen pose, by simply taking several deep breaths in and out through their nose, with their mouth closed.
Practiced regularly, yoga can improve the lives of children who face autism, ADHD, obesity and stress. It is a natural and healthy way for kids to exercise, relax, focus, and strengthen their minds and bodies; during the summer months many poses such as Tree, Kite, and Queen can be practiced outside in one’s backyard.
Teresa Anne Power is an internationally recognized children’s yoga expert and best-selling author of the award-winning books The ABCs of Yoga for Kids and The ABCs of Yoga for Kids: A Guide for Parents and Teachers, and the founder of Kids’ Yoga Day, an international event to raise global awareness of the benefits of yoga for kids. For more information visit www.abcyogaforkids.com and www.kidsyogaday.com.