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Yoga Fun for the Family By Wai Lana

Skin Inc, July 2005

Yoga is a fun and healthy activity that can be enjoyed by parents and children.

If your spa has a fitness facility, don’t just market yoga to your adult clients—make it an enjoyable activity for the whole family. Many parents are looking for a healthy form of recreation to participate in with their children that is as much fun for them as it is for their kids. Because of this, it’s now time to get the entire family hooked on yoga.

Even if adults already are practicing it and experiencing the benefits that yoga provides, they shouldn’t keep it all to themselves—youngsters can enjoy yoga, too. They will share in an ongoing learning experience that never gets boring—after all, it’s thousands of years old and still going strong.

A quality activity for kids

For thousands of years, yogis have enjoyed the fruits of the discipline’s varied practices. Today, it has become the workout of choice for many savvy adults because of its innate ability to relieve stress and make people feel good. But these rewards needn’t be reserved for stressed-out working moms and dads. Introduce kids to yoga now, and you’ll be giving them a lifelong way to remain healthy and emotionally centered.

In today’s media-saturated culture, where childhood obesity statistics as well as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) rates are going through the roof, yoga is a natural, healthy practice from which parents and children can benefit equally. So why not do it together? Yoga not only makes everyone feel good, but it also is something to feel good about. Unlike television shows or video games, which foster inactivity, yoga enables kids to improve their strength, balance, flexibility, coordination, and ability to stay focused, and even can enhance their performance in sports, martial arts, and academics.

Yoga strengthens family ties

Yoga’s timeless postures are great for everyone, young or old. By taking up yoga, parents, too, become more centered and easygoing. When it is practiced with kids, it can bring families closer. A fun-filled yoga session or a restful naptime prefaced by Balloon Belly breathing and soothing yoga relaxation strengthens the bonds of love that exist between parent and child. As you pass on these priceless tools to help your clients’ kids live happier, healthier and more productive lives, they will be most grateful … and so will you.

More than just physical benefits

As kids get a bit older, yoga can help to improve their academic performance by cultivating mental focus, concentration, and discipline. Because yoga has a balancing effect on the mind and body, children become more attentive and emotionally mature naturally. As a result, they are better able to deal with difficult emotions, such as anger, fear, and jealousy. The wonderful activity of yoga can be used as a means to help little ones cope with stress and anxiety. Perhaps the healthiest prescription of all, yoga offers children a stabilizing force that makes it easier for them to develop good health and good habits.

With the introduction of yoga into kids’ lives, there’s a less of a need to dread the teenage years. As they emerge from childhood and pass through puberty, yoga’s power to regulate hormones will provide a smoother adolescence.

Children who practice the discipline are more even-keeled than their non-practicing peers. Their relationships with family and friends are more harmonious—even when they become teenagers. Many seem more content—glad to share and unconcerned about what people think of them.

Another wonderful benefit of yoga is that the lessons learned through its practice carry over into other aspects of life. As parents and children improve at their own pace, they’ll each learn to be more patient and tolerant. Consequently, their approach to life’s problems, situations, and relationships will become calmer, clearer, and more solution-oriented. It is a gradual process, but one that is well worth engaging.

Yoga at the spa

Today, more and more spas are acknowledging the amazing benefits for youngsters by featuring yoga workouts for children as part of their fitness offerings. Even preschoolers and kindergartners can enjoy playful and relaxing yoga classes. Kids and fitness instructors love it. The trick is to entertain children while getting them to do something that’s good for them.

Despite its serious reputation, yoga can be great fun. All it takes is a little imagination on your part. Provide kid-size yoga mats; they’ll want to practice just so they can use them. A mat also helps keep little ones from running around during the session because it defines their space.

To calm them down and get them in the mood, start with abdominal breathing—only call it Balloon Belly. Have them lie down and place their hands on their tummies. Instruct them to watch their stomachs rise as they breathe in and fall as they breathe out. If you like, place a soft toy on their stomachs so that the children can watch it move up and down with every breath.

After that, have them position themselves on their hands and knees for a warm-up with the Cat and Dog Stretch, complete with meows and barks, alternately rounding and arching their spines.

Melon Magic

Makes 1 1/2 - 2 cups

  • 1 1/2 cups cantaloupe
  • 1 1/2 cups honeydew melon
  • 4 strawberries

Chop ingredients into pieces small enough to fit through a juicer feeder. Alternate ingredients through feeder, then serve.

Brownie Shake

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 frozen bananas
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon carob or cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 large pitted dates
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons carob or chocolate chips

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Cover, blend until smooth, and serve.