It’s that time of year again. The weather has turned colder and the idea of playing outside is less and less appealing to the youngsters. We all know that physical activity is crucial for a child’s health, but how do we get the kids to exercise when they are cooped up inside? And how do we help them fly through cold and flu season?
In Comes Yoga to Save the Day
Time and time again, I have found that a Yoga session at the first sign of sniffles or sore throat nipped a cold in the bud, so my kids could get on with their lives. And a consistent Yoga practice helped them be more flexible in both body and mind. Over the years, my kids were sick less often than many of their classmates, and I know it’s because of Yoga.
The gentle-but-steady stretching of Yoga increases muscle tone and flexibility, especially in kids’ still forming bodies. Children who practice Yoga improve their posture and are less likely to injure themselves in other physical activities.
Yoga stimulates children’s immune systems in a variety of ways. It helps detoxify the body, which clear viruses and bacteria before they take hold. Yoga helps balance hormones and reduces stress. Even kids can suffer from a stressed-out nervous system, which makes them more susceptible to illness. Regular relaxation is an important part of being healthy, especially for children.
Do the Twist
Twisting poses are essential for both flexibility and immunity. Twists stretch and tone the muscles around the spine and detoxify the internal organs. They stimulate digestion, and a well-functioning digestion makes for a healthier body overall. The squeeze and release churning work that twists create in their bellies is especially helpful during the holiday feast/sugar-binging time. Inspire your kids to include twists in a morning Yoga practice to get their belly fires burning strong for the day.
Building a Bridge
Backbends are great for creating more flexibility through the chest, shoulders, and lower back. Opening the chest activates and balances the thymus, the gland behind the breastbone, which commands the T-cells (the soldiers of the immune system). Backbends with the shoulders and feet on the ground, such as Bridge pose, also directly stimulate the immune system through the pressure points on the shoulders.
Turn the World Upside Down
Inversions are great for boosting immunity because they help with the movement of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic is the filtration system of the body, moving out toxins and bacteria. It requires physical activity to function. So any Yoga or other kind of exercise boosts immunity, because it helps the body clean itself. But going upside down, especially for children with their more sensitive immune systems, stimulates more lymph to flow. Note that simple inversions like Legs-up-the-wall or Downward-dog are best for children new to Yoga. Downward-dog has the added benefit of draining the lungs and clearing the sinuses.
It’s better to have them practice inversions when they feel well, not if they are already sick.
Turning your kids on to Yoga is a great way to help them be more flexible and healthier. A consistent Yoga practice helps developing bodies become more fluid and supple. Developing a physical awareness of their body, or a body IQ, gives them a start in developing this vital intelligence for an energized life. Yoga also stimulates detoxification and immunity, helping kids be healthier. And a limber, healthy kid is much more likely to be a happy kid.