It was Albert Einstien himself who once said, “play is the highest form of research,” and this couldn’t be more accurate for children. Through play, a child learns, and because play is a happy experience, good feelings are attached to learning. The play instinct in a child is very strong, and it should always be nurtured because play advances a child’s development better than any other experience in their life. Play encourages a child to be active and interested; it develops their sense of adventure, nourishes their curiosity, develops their social skills, and builds their confidence. In short, a playful child is a happy child.
In previous blogs, I have gone into detail regarding the physical benefits of yoga for children, and the way it can help a child gain skills and confidence in a non-competitive environment, but until now, I have not delved into one of the most important aspects of yoga. Fun! Our ‘YIPEE’ yoga classes are absolutely bursting with fun, and the best thing is, because it’s so enjoyable, a child never really notices how much they’re actually learning! Furthermore, yoga links three forms of learning together; sensory-motor, cognitive, and social-emotional experiences, which provide the ideal setting for brain development.
When adapted for children, yoga is an absolute treat. There are moments of bursting energy: frog jumps, rockets, bunny hops and downward-facing dogs (complete with barking, of course!), as well as moments of rest: the gentle butterfly pose, tree pose, boat pose, and calming breathing exercises. Yoga props can also be used to great effect, and to a child’s great excitement: sparkly yoga balls to roll underneath a downward-facing dog pose, and the Tibetan singing bowl which is placed on a child’s belly so they can feel the calming hum when it’s tapped.
With all this fun going on, a child barely notices that they are learning valuable physical and mental lessons. From a mental standpoint, yoga promotes patience, bravery, kindness, and confidence. From a physical standpoint, it promotes flexibility, strength building, muscle memory, and weight-control. All this comes naturally during the course of a YIPEE yoga session, during which the only lesson the children are aware of is that they are laughing, jumping up and down, and having an absolute ball with their friends. Which is everything a happy child needs to know!
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn.” – O. Fred Donaldson.