Trying to keep up with a hyper child is exhausting!
As it is, our little ones are full of energy, requiring all our attention and patience. But over time, this hyperactivity can start to affect them, too. As they grow, it can start to interfere with their schoolwork, behavior, and sleep patterns. Luckily, there’s a natural solution to the problem: yoga. Research has shown that yoga is an effective way to curb these problems. But why does yoga work? And how do you get started? Henry Cross, executive director for non-profit enrichment education program Hosh Kids, has some advice for us. Henry, a former public school teacher, and current yoga and ballroom dance instructor, knows how hard it can be to start an overactive child on a routine. But he’s been working with children for a while now and has seen just about everything. Below, Henry answers our questions, and gives us tips on what works and doesn’t work when trying to get the more energetic children to slow down.
MB: How does Yoga benefit the active child?
Henry: An active child in a yoga class needs constant engagement and movement. The challenge for educators and parents is to become "talent scouts," as suggested by Rick Lavoie. It’s important to immediately incorporate yoga and mindfulness concepts and poses that will gradually decrease a child's hyperactivity. It’s common for active children to feel discouraged from doing yoga. However, I suggest that building one breath or pose at a time over time will yield many of the well-researched improvements yoga is known for today. To be specific, treating kids’ yoga as a long-term life skill for your child will result in improvements in behavior, stress, anxiety, and concentration. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
MB: What age would you suggest yoga for the active/high energy child?
Henry: At Hosh Kids, our studio program starts yoga for children at 18 months. In our pre-school settings, we see babies as young as six months. I believe the earlier, the better. Children are born with an innate rhythm. Kids’ yoga works to coordinate their body and breathing rhythms, which can positively impact a child's cognitive functions. We tell schools and parents to integrate the power of yoga into a child's life as early as possible.
MB: Are there certain poses that help calm an over-active child? Henry: Yes! Many poses can keep an active child engaged in a yoga class. Consider poses that challenge their body-coordination:
Tree Pose: Put palms together, stand tall, and place one foot above or below the knee. Floor Bow: Lay down on the floor, face down. In each hand grab the outsides of the feet, and lift up to the ceiling! Airplane: Open your hands wide and stand tall as you step forward with the right foot and pick the left foot off the ground. Balance on the right foot. What other questions do you have about kids’ yoga? Let us know!
Henry Cross is the Executive Director of Hosh Kids and Program Director of Hosh Yoga. Henry blends his years of experience in education with yoga to better serve the New York City community. Follow us on Twitter @hoshkids
Laura Cofsky is the communications strategist for -and advisory committee member at -Hosh Kids. A recent University of Pennsylvania graduate, Laura has interned with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Fitness Magazine, Dow Jones, and USA Today. You can read her work on the Hosh Yoga and Hosh Kids blogs, and follow her on Twitter @LauraCky1.
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