Develop life skills through yoga
How to develop life skills through yoga
Yoga is fantastic exercise of course, but for children especially, it is so much more. Children Inspired by Yoga classes help to develop a range of life skills through a combination of music, movement and storytelling. This blog post gives 8 examples of how we do this.
8 life skills to develop through yoga
1. Self-care skills
Yoga poses and activities give young children a better awareness of their own bodies and how they move. This can help develop self-care skills such as washing and getting dressed independently. Here are some specific examples:
- Animal yoga poses such as crocodile increase a child’s awareness of the mid-line of their body. This awareness improves skills such as zipping up jackets, enabling children to get dressed more easily.
- Other poses such as snake pose activate neck, shoulder and hand muscles. This builds strength, supporting fine motor skills such as tying shoelaces.
- Activities such as wriggling fingers in mouse pose strengthen fingers and wrists, which are needed for pen control.
- Our classes encourage a child’s independence with regards to self-care. Each class starts with a routine where we (alongside Tatty Bumpkin) get ready for our adventure, brushing teeth, making a healthy breakfast etc. This encourages children to think about making good choices and taking care of themselves in everyday life.
2. Self-regulation skills
Yoga can give young children the ability to self-regulate or better cope with their big emotions and feelings. In turn this can help with self-regulating their behaviour.
Our classes teach children how to use breathing and poses to calm down. For example during relaxation at the end of a class, with a mindful activity, or in mouse pose. We also use yoga to help children to alert themselves or increase their levels of concentration. For example by stimulating the vestibular sense, inverting the head in downwards dog pose (this is perfect for a quick movement break during homework).
3. Relaxation skills
In our fast-paced world, it’s crucial to develop life skills such as relaxation and mindfulness. our children need to be able to help themselves switch off after a busy school day and wind down before bedtime. Yoga provides a child with the tools to become more mindful and switch off his or her MIND as well as body, ready for sleep.
At the end of each class, we practice relaxation, using props to encourage deep belly breathing, allowing both body and mind to rest.
Being able to recreate this state of relaxation at home, perhaps in bed with a favourite doll or teddy, is a great way for children to help themselves drift off to sleep.
4. Imagination & creativity
We help children to develop life skills such as imagination and creativity through storytelling and creative problem solving in classes. By imagining different scenarios and exploring feelings, we allow children the opportunity to develop their creativity. Children are regularly encouraged to think about how characters might solve a problem, or to use all their senses to imagine what a place might look like or smell like.
“I wonder what sounds might we hear on our jungle adventure?” “What might the sea spray taste like on our adventure with dolphin?” “How is the weather in this place?”
Children are encouraged to contribute to the narrative of the adventure. For example, “How could Tatty Bumpkin make the sad mermaid feel better?” or “What colour socks will octopus choose to wear today?”
5. Communication & confidence
Throughout our yoga-inspired classes, children are encouraged to share their ideas and suggestions, building confidence and communication skills. Listening to each other and speaking in a group are practised regularly by asking for suggestions to help Tatty Bumpkin and paying attention to each other’s ideas. For example: “What might Tatty Bumpkin choose for breakfast today?”
We regularly pause our adventures and think about how characters might be feeling, helping to foster empathy.
By including these kind of activities each week, children gain experience and confidence when speaking and listening in a group, which they are able to put into practice at nursery and school. The imaginative and adventurous story-based classes improve vocabulary and a child’s ability to express his or herself.
Children Inspired by Yoga classes promote a ‘growth-mindset‘, praising effort rather than talent or skill and drawing attention to how children have improved over time due to their hard work. This incentivises children to persist in their endeavours, even (and indeed especially!) when they are finding something difficult.
For example, a teacher might say “Wow, Harry, I can really see you stretching and trying to reach towards the sun!”, or “Hey Daisy, you can jump even higher now than you could when you first joined us. You must have been practicing and now your muscles are even stronger.”
In our inclusive classes, children regularly have the opportunity to work together as a team, to help Tatty Bumpkin in her adventure. For example by talking together to resolve a negative or problematic situation that Tatty Bumpkin has found herself in.
Our teachers encourage children to try yoga poses that require them to co-operate, for example, rowing in boat pose.
Pairs of children work together in octopus pose, using their limbs to create eight waving octopus legs.
8. Resilience & ability to deal with change
Resilience can be defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness” and “the ability to spring back into shape; elasticity”. This resilience, or ability to cope with change is an essential life skill that many adults would love to develop further. We can help our children to become more resilient by gaining flexibility in their MINDS as well as their bodies, through yoga.
Anthony J. D’Angelo wrote: “Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant.”
The earlier in life we can accept this truth and learn to adapt to change without anxiety, the more we will be able to expand our personal comfort zone and open ourselves up to infinite possibilities. Our yoga-inspired classes offer a safe space for children to try new movements and ideas, testing their bodies in a supportive and encouraging environment. Children feel secure and grounded on their yoga mats whatever adventure Tatty Bumpkin may be having.
The poses and activities in our classes give children the ability to feel comfortable being ‘in the moment’. Children learn that their bodies and emotions will feel different at different times and are able to acknowledge and accept this.
We are proud to be able to use yoga in our classes to inspire children and help them develop life skills.