International Yoga Day: Now, kids can learn yoga in exciting new ways

Updated: Jun 26, 2016, 02:03 IST | Krutika Behrawala

On International Yoga Day, experts tell you how to get your three-year-old to do the Bow pose or learn a Tummy Sandwich from a yoga dog

Browse through Scholastic India’s latest offering, My Book Of Yoga by Ira Trivedi, and the cute illustrations (by Kanika Anand and Mansi Shah) of Om, the yoga dog, stretching, bending and kneeling to perform different asanas like Tummy Sandwich and Butterfly will make you smile. He’s got company too; there’s Prana, the frog, who showcases breathing exercises and Moksha, the elephant providing techniques to achieve mindfulness. “The book is meant for kids from five years and above. So, these characters give yoga a fresh spin, especially for young people, who may think that yoga is stale, boring and something that the grandparents do. However, adults, too, can benefit from the book as it provides comprehensive lesson plans and easy-to-read instructions,” says Trivedi, who comes armed with Acharya training from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, and is the founder of Namami Yoga, an NGO that aspires to teach yoga to underprivileged children.

Hashmin Currimbhoy (centre) practises the Bow pose at a yoga session with kids aged three to six

Starting young
Trivedi isn’t the only one trying to make yoga cool for kids. Hashmin Currimbhoy, founder of dance and creative movement company Hipa Kids that runs sessions at various activity centres across the city, has chalked out yoga sessions for two-year-olds too. “Yoga helps brain development. For two-year-olds, we offer 20-minute sessions where we enact asanas in form of stories, show them breathing techniques and play games, which are slow to fast paced to hold their attention span. For three to six-year-olds, we have yoga games using movement cards, reflection games and nature walks too. The idea is to not just make them do yoga exercises but develop a lifelong love and bond with it,” she adds.

Ira Trivedi, yoga expert and author
Ira Trivedi, yoga expert and author

Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra, director of The Yoga Institute at Santacruz, adds, “Through yoga, kids develop awareness, a sense of responsibilities, self-reliance and confidence. We teach yoga to five to eight-year-olds through moral stories, games and acting. After eight years, formal education takes place where yoga techniques are taught

Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra
Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra

Dos and don'ts
>> Start with simple techniques like closing your eyes and concentrating on sounds.
>> Focus on an object like a flower or a candle flame to improve concentration and learn to manage distractions.
>> Teach your kid yoga in a language s/he understands according to the age group. For instance, children can be taught breathing exercises by asking them to blow colourful balloons (it helps increase their lung capacity) or blowing air into water and counting bubbles (it helps improve focus) or lighting a candle and blowing it from a distance, increasing it gradually.
>> Wear loosely fitted clothes.
>> Avoid practising yoga immediately after eating food.
>> Avoid a yoga session of more than 30 minutes. 

— Inputs by Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra

Benefits of starting young
>> Helps develop body awareness, coordination and build stronger and more flexible muscles.
>> Breathing exercises can energise kids or encourage relaxation, depending on what you teach. 
>> Balancing poses help build concentration and increased attention spans. 
>> Meditation can help manage stress.
>> Kids can feel part of a healthy, non-competitive group.
>> Less likely to become overweight and have a decreased risk of developing Type-2 diabetes.
>> Develop higher self-esteem and reduced incidences of depression and anxiety.

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My Book Of Yoga, Ira Trivedi, Scholastic India, Rs 175, available at leading bookstores and estores.

4 yoga asanas for your kid

Kids practise the Tree pose
Kids practise the Tree pose 

1. Tree
>> Stand steady on two feet. Press the right foot firmly into the mat while lifting the left heel. Keep yourself stable, turn the left knee outward and place the heel on the mid-calf of the right leg. Fold your hands and hold them steady above your head.

2. Bow
>> Lie down on your stomach with arms on your side. Bend the knees, separating them slightly. Take your arms behind your back. Hold both your ankles with both hands. Inhale. Lift your head, chest and thighs off the ground, arching the body as much as possible.


3. Butterfly
>> Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and pull your heels towards your pelvis. Drop your knees out to the side and press the soles of your feet together, bringing your heels as close to the pelvis as you can. Hold your toes. Inhale and exhale with control. Flap your knees up and down like a butterfly.

Tummy Sandwich

4. Tummy Sandwich
>> Sit up straight on the mat. Keep your legs together and stretch them out straight in front of you. Inhale. Stretch your arms up over the head. Exhale. Reach out to touch your toes, bending from the hip. Keep your back straight. Stay in this posture. Continue to inhale and exhale comfortably.

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