As discussed in our earlier post on “self-control,” Walter Mischel, the psychologist behind the famous “Marshmallow Test,” deduced that individuals who appear to have higher self-control from a young age go on to be more successful, slimmer, and less susceptible to bad habits later in life. But can we train ourselves, and our children, to exert this kind of self-control? The answer is yes.
Early childhood experiences have been proven to shape our ability to learn and to define our future mental and physical well-being. Intentional movement, such as yoga, has a great impact on a child development as the practice is shaping child's ability to maintain focus, remain calm, and filter sensory information. Practicing yoga at a young age, and accompanying these physical movements with other essential mental child development tools, helps to build a child’s self-awareness, emotional intelligence and physical self-control. Yoga also teaches kids to respect the body’s cues and needs to move, and eventually feel confident and comfortable in their own bodies.
Self-regulation transfers the responsibility of learning and taking control of their behaviour back to the children. The goal is to create a certain mindfulness and self-awareness to the point that they will know how to recognize and manage emotional or stressful situations that would normally cause them act out. This mind-body connection can be helpful in many scenarios, such as pulling them out of a meltdown or focusing in a classroom. Yoga is also a great activity to do as a family, as it promotes calmness, balance and connection. There are tons of fun poses to try with your yoga kids, too!
Luckily, yoga is a very portable practice! For example, my yoga family and I have recently started a new tradition of spending our summer holiday in Costa Rica. In addition to its natural beauty and the wide variety of amazing activities Costa Rica has to offer, the most precious and valuable experiences are, in my opinion, less obvious. I like to think of the whole experience as exercise for the mind and body. It is such a joy to practice yoga on the beach with my kids, with a beautiful view and calm ocean energy surrounding me. It’s also a great way to re-connect with your family, and with your-self.
5 Fun Yoga Poses to do with your Kids (as demonstrated by my friend and fellow dream catcher Lindsey & her daughter Raine):
1. The Crow Swing
Good for Mom & Dad’s Arm Muscles, great for the little one’s flexibility. Not to mention one heck of a fun ride! Have your junior assume Crow’s position while you grasp his/her hands and lift. It might take a few tries to get air born- but they’ll love it once they do!
2. The Back Bend & Crow Pose Combo
Get into your best bridge and have your little tot perch on top of your tummy in Crow’s position. Tons of fun for flexibility, balance, and building trust!
3. Leap Frog, Yoga Style
Sit in splits position and stretch it out while your little beaper leaps across you. You may want to throw in a chair to leap off of to avoid and accidental be-headings.
4. Family Handstands
Get inverted together, and see who can hold their stand the longest! Inversions are great for increasing blood circulation. Providing more oxygen and blood flow to the brain is thought to increase many mental functions like memory, concentration etc.
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