Two years ago I began practicing yoga and absolutely love everything about it. If you are my friends or family, I have probably already asked you to come join me for a class. If you have been a patient of mine, I most likely have incorporated some sort of yoga-esque exercise into your rehabilitation. Why? Because these movements, breathing techniques, and forms of meditation work!
My 9 year old daughter, Emma, is exactly like me….running from sun up to sun down. Typical first born - wanting to do everything right and make everyone proud. And I think….oh no! I KNOW that I made her this way! While I admire her goal setting and her determination, I also want to teach her that life is a practice…..not a perfect!
Let’s face it, our kids today are constantly running from one thing to the next. Their days are filled with rushing off to school, after school activities, sports, clubs, homework and late bedtimes. All of which are repeated day after day. Not to mention the pressures that come with academic performance, success in sports and don’t get me started about the inner workings of adolescent friendships!!
Stress kicks in the sympathetic nervous system which leads to an elevation in heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, this constant increase in stress can lead to decreased immune support, low self-esteem, depression and isolation. Research shows that incorporating a stress related program into a student’s daily routine helps academic performance, self-esteem, concentration and helps emotional balance. This further leads to improving a child’s confidence, goal setting, and overall classroom behavior.
Yoga is a holistic approach to stress management. It gives an individual the opportunity to pause amidst all the chaos of life. To take a deep breath. To BE in the moment. The word Yoga in Sanskrit means “to yoke,” to bring together in mind, body and spirit. Yoga emphasizes the importance of breath, along with physical postures and relaxation methods to strive toward balance and allows the body to reconnect with the mind.
I have taken Emma to yoga with me multiple times. Not only do I love having this special time with my daughter. I love how she tells me she feels after she practices. Don’t get me wrong, part of the reason she loves it is for all the arm balances and crazy poses that only a 9 year old gymnast could hold, but she also tells me how calm she feels after. How relaxed and happy she feels walking out of the studio.
Yoga has benefits for children of every age:
· Young children (6 and under): Development of body awareness and gross motor movement
· Children 7-9 years of age: Challenges in strength, agility and endurance
· Adolescence (10-12 years of age): A place to thrive as their bodies are changing and a safe environment to practice in, as they seek acceptance from peers
· Teenage years: ”Practice allows for self-study and self-care as well as development of vital intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, such as improved communication skills, which are critically needed at this developmental stage”.
So this month, step out of your comfort zone and take your son or daughter to a yoga class. What a great way to celebrate being healthy with your kids. No judgement. No expectations. Just BE.
Jen Bazan, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist, and co-owner
Children are always welcome at the yoga classes offered at our Lockport clinic. Classes are every Wednesday evening from 7:30 to 8:30 PM. Namaste!