Here is a fact that almost never feels true when I’m in the thick of parenting, but I know deep down to be true:
Being a kid is hard.
It’s easy to think about how nice it would be if someone else did my laundry and managed my schedule and planned my meals, but we overlook the part where kids spend a lot of time feeling powerless. They’re short, they don’t have any money, and they can’t drive.
It makes me laugh to think of it that way, but truly–kids spend a lot of time feeling disempowered. Sometimes, what we think of as a child having a tantrum or misbehaving is really their attempt to control their circumstances.
One of the reasons yoga is such a great tool for children is because it provides them with tools for empowerment that will carry over into the rest of their world.
How do yoga classes empower kids?
Lots of ways:
- Yoga Gives Kids a Voice: Empowerment means having a say in matters that affect you. It involves participation in decision-making processes. In a kids yoga class, students choose their own expression of a yoga pose, they get to decide what feels good in their body, and they are always given a say in what and how much they participate in. The teacher makes suggestions and gives invitations, but the rest is up to the children.
- Yoga Builds Self-Confidence: As children grow in their yoga practice, they gain a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. They learn that with effort, they can overcome challenges and achieve their goals. They also learn that it’s okay when it takes time to succeed, and that our progress should be measured against our own benchmarks, and not what other people are able to do. And, in the case of family yoga classes, kids sometimes get to witness their ability to do something that their grown-ups can’t manage!
- Yoga Encourages Emotional Resilience: Yoga teaches children to accept themselves and their feelings without judgment. This self-acceptance can boost their self-esteem and ability to navigate difficult situations. We’ve talked a lot more about yoga and resilience in a past blog post
- Yoga Can Improve Physical Strength and Flexibility: Yoga asana (the poses) helps children develop physical strength, balance, and flexibility. This can make them feel more capable and confident in their bodies, which can translate to improved physical performance in other activities–and greater comfort when asked to sit still.
- Yoga Helps Kids Self-Regulate: Yoga teaches children to be aware of their bodies and their breath. This mind-body connection can help them better manage their emotions and stress. They learn how to calm themselves down when they’re upset and how to focus their energy when needed. Along with resilience skills, this is a recipe for a child who is more easily able to choose a mindful response rather than a reaction that doesn’t feel good for anyone.
- Yoga Class Assists With Social Interaction: In yoga classes, children have the opportunity to interact with peers in a non-competitive and supportive environment. This can enhance their social skills and build a sense of community. For the youngest yogis, it can also allow them to learn how to interact with their peers in an environment that feels safe and allows them to explore being with other children.
- Yoga Builds Lifelong Healthy Habits: By introducing children to yoga at a young age, they may develop a lifelong interest in fitness and well-being, setting them on a path to healthier living as adults.
The sense of empowerment children gain through the skills learned in yoga class equips them with the tools they need to navigate the world confidently and responsibly. It encourages them to act with kindness, understanding, and determination, shaping their behavior in a positive and meaningful way.
About the Author
Jessica LaGarde has been teaching creative movement in the metro area since 2005 and is passionate about helping children discover and explore their bodies and the world around them. She was trained by Joye Newman, MA to teach preschool creative movement for Kids’ Moving Company, a Bethesda-based creative movement studio. In 2017, she completed her Baby, Toddler, and Children’s Yoga Teacher Training through Childlight Yoga.
In addition to working with preschoolers, Jessica is a registered massage practitioner and is trained in infant massage instruction. She has practiced massage for over twelve years and taught massage as part of Potomac Massage Training Institute’s professional training program. Outside of the movement space and massage room, she enjoys cooking, knitting, sewing, gardening and exploring the outdoors with her daughter.