Yoga for young’uns: kids can benefit from meditation, too

It never fails.

After dinner, the kids complain they are too tired to do their homework but once we’ve put on our PJs and brushed our teeth they are full of energy and bouncing on the beds.

That’s when we turn to the “Om.”

Yes, we meditate.

It’s not for long, 30 seconds at most. But it does the trick. As long as my husband doesn’t come in and start laughing, they settle down and we begin our bedtime stories.

The children learned the proper pose for relaxation and meditation from instruction in Yoga, which has become more and more popular for children.

They began practicing yoga in preschool and at the age of 2, could demonstrate downward dog, cobra, tree and several other popular poses. Many moms start with pre-natal classes and continue with mommy-and-me infant classes.

I spoke to Yana Kofman, who is the owner and director of Pediatric Therapy & Yoga of Morris [New Jersey]. She is both a yogi and a pediatric physical therapist. She has classes for children of all ages and caters to children with special needs.

Learning to hold yourself still and quiet, your mind is a timeless art. According to Kofman, some of the benefits she sees in kids include improved strength, stamina, coordination…

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and digestion.

Children also enhance their ability to concentrate and focus, manage stress and relax themselves in order to fall asleep.

Kofman talked about how Yoga is a great complement to other sports because it teaches children to care for their bodies without the stress of competition and provides much-needed stretching.

Slowing down and focusing on a single task is very difficult for children, who live in a world that demands multitasking and constant hurrying.

“In children’s yoga classes we focus on asanas [yoga poses], eye exercises, conscious breath, relaxation and concentration. Each child has to focus on the pose she/he is doing even when other kids are falling, moving or talking. The emphasis is on the basic yogic belief; if you let your mind wander you will lose your balance!”

The relaxation part of her classes teaches children to handle real life stresses like anxiety before a test, dealing with a bully or unfriendly peers and calming one’s own mind in overwhelming situations.

There are several places where you and/or your children can practice the ancient art of yoga and meditation. Besides the many classes and services provided by Pediatric Therapy & Yoga of Morris you can also find Mommy and Me pilates classes at Commit to Change in Morristown and kids classes at Purple Om Yoga in Denville or the Lakeland Hills YMCA in Mountain Lakes.

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