Fitness

A Day At The Picnic—Fun And Interactive Yoga Session For Kids

Yoga through storytelling is an unconventional but compelling way of helping kids engage the creativity of their minds with the capabilities of their bodies. Coupled with music, this routine by coach Shereena Master combines the benefits of yoga with the relaxation of playtime.

By Debashruti Banerjee
01 February 2022

COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down for the most part, but the conversation often seems to leave out the younger, well, the youngest population. Children had to shift from the hustle and bustle of school, playtime with their friends, sports and extracurricular activities to a computer screen practically overnight. When you think about it, children born in the beginning of the pandemic are toddlers now. Spending the first years of their lives almost entirely at home has obviously affected them physically and mentally. According to the World Health Organisation, 81 percent of adolescents between 11 and 17 years do not get enough physical activity. Moreover, the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) across India suggests that poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle has led to a spike in obesity among kids under the age of 5.

 

What's the solution, then? With limited to no access to the outdoors, and the fact that not all of us have backyards or terraces for extra wiggle room—how do kids get an outlet for all their bottled up energy? Well, Mumbai-based coach Shereena Master has discovered a unique solution. By conducting yoga for kids under the guise of enacting fun and imaginative stories, Master has mastered the art of coupling storytime, playtime and exercise. Kids yoga through storytelling is a safe and attainable practice for children, where caregivers must prioritise participation over perfectionism. Not only is this routine perfect for online yoga sessions, it also promotes interaction, relaxation and fitness in children through simple poses, engaging music and a lot of joy.

 

Yoga poses for kids can:

  1. Build strength: Kids yoga and mindfulness may use simple poses, but can still have a number of physical benefits like building strength, balance, endurance and aerobic capacity, says Harvard Health Publishing. By simulating actions like packing a food basket and going to a beach, this yoga video takes snippets of picnic fun and seamlessly combines them with effective yoga movements.
  2. Improve coordination: Kids yoga, like any other fitness class, requires the students to follow the instructions and emulate the movements of their storytelling coach. By completing each yoga pose in time, kids are able to enhance their hand-eye coordination skills.
  3. Regulate breathing: Breathing yoga and exercises are an amazing way to feel less anxious, more grounded and in control of one's self and it works for any age. Research suggests that controlled and conscious breathwork is an easily accessible way of teaching kids to deal with unpleasant thoughts, stay positive and feel rejuvenated. It can help kids deal with tantrums and regulate their emotions.

 

Related story: De-stress in Four Minutes With Box Breathing

 

 

Storytelling can help kids have fun with yoga by:

  1. Boosting creativity: Good storytelling generates suspension of disbelief, wherein listeners momentarily leave their reality and enter the fictional realm. Yoga through storytelling can urge kids to tap into their imaginative and creative senses to not only act out "a day at the picnic", for example, but also learn about the different behaviours, etiquettes and traditions associated with these scenarios.
  2. Engaging body and mind: Yoga is already a holistic medium that marries physical benefits with mindfulness and calm. The poses engage different muscle groups to build strength and also promote flexibility through stretching. With storytelling, added benefits include improved memory, communication skills, social and cultural understanding and much more. Moreover, it does all this without putting the pressure of "classwork" on the young minds by offering them a space of safety and playfulness.
  3. Entertaining and relaxing: According to a 2014 Frontiers in Psychiatry article, children's yoga is not a simplified version of yoga for adults. It is a unique practice that can help manage stress, and boost self-regulation and healthy development. "Today’s children require a creative, interactive syllabus, and participatory method in the teaching–learning process. This approach is applicable for learning yoga too. Thus, if we can communicate with children and young people effectively, they can adopt yoga as a powerful tool for themselves to minimize stress, as well as develop resilience to deal with it," say authors Ingunn Hagen and Usha S. Nayar. By creating a sense of familiarity of traditional classrooms, storytelling can help kids learn yoga poses for fun and interact with others their age.

 

Related story: Teaching Children The Art Of Mindful Eating

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