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Yoga for Kids and Teens

Yoga for Kids and Teens

By Shelby Ray

When I walked into my first yoga class, I was expecting to stick out like a sore thumb. I later realized that yoga is not about anyone else – it’s about YOU! For thousands of years yoga has been practiced to combine movement, breathing, and mindfulness in various ways. While I am no yoga expert, I have come to love adding yoga into my daily routine and incorporating it in my practice as a pediatric occupational therapist. Occupational therapists can help children and adolescents improve their fine motor, visual motor, attention, sensory processing, balance, and coordination skills. Yoga just about covers all the bases. Why? Because yoga challenges our body and brain to work together using slow and controlled movements with each breath we take. Children (and us adults) always go-go-go. Yoga reminds us to pause and be present while still being active!

The Benefits of Yoga

Motor Performance
Yoga strengthens and stretches muscles. But it does so much more than that. Many yoga poses require symmetrical and asymmetrical movements that are held for multiple seconds. These movements help improve right- and left-brain integration, reaction speed, and motor planning. Yoga also provides proprioceptive input to the joints.Thisisourbody’sabilitytosensewhereitisinspaceandwhatitisdoinginour environment.

Yoga requires extended periods of concentration, and in return can help decrease the feeling of hype-excitability that often leads to impulsive behaviors. It challengeschildrentofocusandstrengthentheconnectionbetweenwhattheyhearand what their body isdoing.

Stress management 
We often forget that children and adolescents are under pressure, too. Yoga is meditative in nature. Specific areas of yoga focus heavily on meditationandmindfulness.Multiplestudieshavefoundthatdailyyogapracticehelps lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and decreases resting breathrate.

Yoga eliminates “I’m faster than you!” or “I can jump higher than you!” It is not about competition with others, it’s about you becomingbetter.Movingourbodieshelps to improvebodyawarenessand to feelcomfortable in our skin! As for benefits for the child, practicing in the community allows him to be a part of a healthy, noncompetitivegroup.

Getting Started

All you need is an open space and bare feet! There are many instructional videos online. Try searching using specific keywords. For example: Yoga for Kids Ages 3-5, Bedtime Yoga, Energizing Yoga, Unicorn Yoga, Star Wars Yoga, etc.

Here are a few of my favorite resources to learn more and try it for yourself:

CosmicKids Yoga -YouTube

Yoga with Adrienne (kid, teen, and adult options) – YouTube


Shelby Ray, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist at Laskin Therapy Group in Ridgeland, MS. She is passionate about thinking outside of the box to help kids reach their full potential.

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