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A creative mind can think critically, solve problems and take risks. We often think of painting projects when we imagine children exploring their creativity. However, yoga for kids also encourages children to use their imaginations. Children use their bodies to express themselves and take their minds on imaginary journeys. The yoga experience is unique: it can help children regulate emotions, sleep better, and celebrate their individuality, all while increasing their flexibility and strength. Yoga encourages creativity while introducing breath work, inviting movement and offering the opportunity to connect with others over a shared positive experience.
Creativity through Breath
Even from a very young age, children are open to learning about breath awareness. Breathing techniques are effective coping strategies that help children manage their busy lifestyles and stressful situations.
To introduce breath awareness, ask your children to imitate sounds they hear in their surroundings, using their own breath. They might hear blowing, sniffing, humming or whooshing noises. Children who are not auditory learners might connect the strength of their breath with a blowing flag or a spinning pinwheel. Or they can feel the rise and fall of their tummies as they breathe deeply, like a sleeping bear. These fun ways of breathing are the building blocks for teaching meditation and mindfulness.
Recently, I held my daughter close as she dealt with her intense emotions. She screamed, flailed, and cried. At a break in the tantrum, I pretended to have a flower in my hand. We imagined smelling the flower together, and we talked about the colors of the flower. Then we pretended to be bunnies sniffing at the flower. Then we were bees buzzing around it. We pretended to pick up a feather from the ground and blew it. These simple breathing exercises, which draw upon children’s natural ability to invent imaginary worlds, helped distract her from her frustrations.
Creativity through Movement
Children can use their bodies to tell stories and go on pretend journeys to anywhere that interests them. The physical postures of yoga were invented thousands of years ago by people living in the Indian mountains. Today, children can also mimic their environment and act out yoga stories to develop their self-expression and self-confidence skills. Yoga is for everybody, anywhere.
“All you need is a little concentration and a whole lot of imagination!” Anna tells her new friend, Nick, in Anna and her Rainbow-Colored Yoga Mats, a book about friendship, acceptance and happiness. Like Anna and Nick, my daughter and I take make-believe jungle adventures as we sway like palm trees, stretch like jaguars and hiss like snakes. As an infant, my daughter acted out animals to express her excitement about seeing certain animals before she could say the words. Now that she’s older, she loves to act out stories through yoga poses for kids and dances happily around the room.
Creativity through Connection
Yoga allows children of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes to connect with each other. Through Partner Yoga poses, children can explore moving their bodies together. Students in yoga classes bond over the language of movement. Kids yoga teachers take their students on group imaginary journeys using yoga poses, singing, breathing and guided relaxation stories.
Yoga is easily adapted and caters to all abilities. Yoga provides children an outlet to celebrate their similarities and differences through their mind and bodies. These experiences bring calm to children’s lives. Though my daughter and I have been practicing yoga together at home since she was an infant, watching her bond with her fellow yoga students is even more magical. They help set up the studio, sing yoga songs while sitting in a circle and act out nature-themed yoga poses. Recently, I read to my daughter’s preschool class, and after the story, we acted out the four insect characters. The children flew like dragonflies, flapped like butterflies, buzzed like bees and curled up like ladybugs together. Their laughter and movement brought the story to life.
Giselle Shardlow is the author of Kids Yoga Stories - Kids Yoga Stories - How do your children unleash their creativity through yoga? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.