Traffic jams, increasing financial obligations, demands from the boss, emotional problems,
long working hours or lack of sleep… we all are stressed on a daily basis. What we don’t
realise is that often, our children are also under stress.
Our kids face mounting pressure in their lives. Academically, with intense pressure to
succeed and excel at ever increasingly difficult school work. Socially, with both girls and boys
being very critical of themselves and others in their attempts to fit in, and as is normal, be
part of the group. Emotionally, losing confidence as they compare themselves to the larger
than life celebrities and other icons they admire. In competitive sports, again the pressure is
felt to perform and be the best.
Add to this the myriad of extra murals and extra lessons they have to attend daily, not to mention the over stimulation of their young minds with the internet, iPads, television, cell phones and other devices, and it is not difficult to see that our kids are living very different lives to the kids who grew up in the 70’s or 80’s.
Since founding Zen Zoo Kids I have seen first-hand the positive impact of yoga on my young
daughter as well as the many students whom I have the pleasure and honour of teaching.
“If every child in the world is taught yoga and meditation, we could eliminate violence
from the world within one generation.”
~The Dalai Lama
Yoga benefits everybody who practices it, with stress relief, improved body alignment,
increased concentration, better breathing, improved circulation and a sense of well-being
and peace being the greatest benefits. But what makes yoga different from all the other
extramural activities that are available to kids these days?
Yoga benefits the whole child – body, mind and spirit…
Body - assists neuromuscular-development, encourages midline crossing motions and motor
development on both sides of the body, develops a strong and flexible body, increases
balance, body awareness and coordination, improves posture and alignment, develops core
strength (essential for good posture and correct physical alignment), improves digestion,
circulation and elimination, strengthens the immune system and relaxes the body.
Mind - calms and clears the mind bringing us into the present moment, relieves tension and
stress, increases concentration, focus and attention span, promotes thinking and memory,
stimulates auditory processing and responsiveness, expands imagination and creativity,
reduces stress and anxiety, improves ability to be less reactive and more mindful of
thoughts, words and actions and balances energy (high or low).
Spirit - builds confidence and self-esteem, supports character development and emotional
intelligence, enhances team skills and social interaction, develops discipline and self-control,
supports individuality and self-expression, encourages social and environmental awareness
and responsibility, supports child’s individual spiritual beliefs and inspires respect for self
Anti-bullying, health and wellness, and character education are common themes in schools
today. Yoga, by nature, supports this learning with some of the greatest benefits of yoga for
school children being:
• Provides students healthy ways to express and balance their emotions
• Promotes a more relaxed, comfortable state of being - the perfect state for teaching and learning
• Brings students into the present moment – the most basic requirement for learning
• Encourages community and connectedness within the classroom
• Helps to create an atmosphere of confidence, enthusiasm and non-competitiveness where everyone can succeed
• Eases anxiety and tension (such as pre-test or performance jitters)
• Enhances focus, concentration, comprehension and memory
• Provides opportunities for reflection, patience and insight, reducing impulsivity and reactivity
• Improves posture, assisting students to sit comfortably for long periods
• Improves confidence and self-esteem
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from
To start your child on a journey to better health and wellness, why not do yoga with your
kids at home? Make it fun and tap into your own inner child! Meow like a cat in cat pose, bark like a dog in dog pose and wiggle your bum as you wag your tail, reach for the stars and grab a handful as you stretch up in extended mountain pose and squeak like a mouse in child’s pose. Guaranteed you will have a wonderful time together and feel good afterwards too!
Yoga helps children see the beauty and light within themselves, thereby boosting their self-
confidence, allowing them to feel more comfortable with their bodies, and helping them get in touch with who they are inside. A child who learns yoga, mindfulness and relaxation will be developing essential skills for a lifetime of health and wellness in mind, body and spirit.
“Your job as a parent is not to make your child's way smooth, but rather to help them
develop inner resources so they can cope.”
Give your child the gift of yoga… the gift that will last a lifetime.
Author: Charmaine Kelly
About: Charmaine has created a nurturing, inspirational and fun filled programme for kids, which combines her love for children with her passion for mentoring and the ancient art of yoga and meditation.
Her goal is to help children learn to cope with the various pressures and stresses in our fast paced world from an early age, so that they can grow into well balanced, innately confident and compassionate adults, who love themselves as well as others.
Charmaine has studied and trained with the recognised Yoga4Kids, an organisation endorsed by the Yoga Teacher’s Fellowship of South Africa, and South Africa’s leading provider of children’s yoga teacher training. As a teacher she is known to be sincere, warm, caring and empowering. Charmaine draws from her deep understanding of the mind-body connection to assist others in attaining holistic wellness.
For pose ideas and tips for home practice, please email us to receive your complimentary Zen Zoo Kids guide.