In fact, many of the traumas, anxieties and fears of adults are sown in childhood and low self-esteem underlies many of these fears and anxieties. In this way, yoga has introduced new tools to teach children how to deal with stress and become happier adults.
In this sense, it is through yoga programmes in the comfort of children's own homes that Tânia Costa, Kids Yoga Teacher, wants to help these children to better deal with everyday challenges and improve their self-confidence.
When a child or teenager begins to show signs of insecurity, "parents often think that this will pass soon, but if nothing is done, it only gets worse," she said.
Kids Yoga Benefits
Yoga helps to teach how to respect your own body. “On a physical level, yoga will strengthen muscles, improve coordination and balance. In addition, it prevents poor posture problems, which is important nowadays, because all children have poor posture due to the use of phones and computer”, said Tânia Costa who at the moment works with kids between five and 14 years old.
Regarding to the mental health benefits, “yoga promotes attention, awareness and concentration, as well as patience, respect and tolerance”, she explained. All of this ends up improving school outcomes because if a child is less anxious about the future and more confident, they will be further motivated to study.
Replace gaming time with yoga
Tânia is based in Portimão, Algarve, but during the pandemic, she started working 100 percent online and what at first seemed crazy and scary quickly became a great experience. For that reason, even with the ease of lockdown she’s planning to keep with the new format.
“I was thinking that online classes wouldn't work, but on the contrary, I have more students now and from all over the place. Also, according to parent’s feedback, their children are doing better. Perhaps because they are at home, they feel safer and share much more about what they feel at school and the difficulties they encounter”, said Tânia.
“Apparently what seems like one more activity for kids to be exposed to the computer has actually replaced their time playing video games with yoga and that's been amazing,” she highlighted.
Kids Yoga v Adults Yoga
While the benefits are similar, yoga for children is not the same as yoga for adults, requiring much more creativity from the teacher.
“In short, yoga for kids is different from yoga for adults. The base is the same, but the kids don't have to sit silently on the mat. The whole class is dynamic and made through movements, songs and stories. Every gesture and breath has a purpose and it is designed to guide the child in a fluid way. The child stays quiet, not because they have to be quiet, but because they’re playing”.
“I can do it”
In her point of view, children and teenagers love to talk, but don't feel heard enough. For that reason, Tânia Costa decided to create a new project - “Eu sou capaz”, which in English means “I can do it”. In this project she combines four components in a yoga session - three of them linked to the practice (meditation, mindfulness and yoga itself) and a fourth tool consisting of coaching that helps them to get emotional release techniques, and find out how to learn to deal with exams, social relationships and with themselves.
The approach may differ between group and individual lessons. In group classes, Tânia asks questions that make children think and see different perspectives. And in one-on-one lessons, she uses coaching tools even more deeply. “I can work more with kids and parents together. As it is online, parents are often there with the child, or are on the other side listening, monitoring and following what is done in classes”, she explained.
“Children tend to do their best. However, the expectation that parents place is sometimes so demanding that kids get confused. And in yoga and coaching we're going to work a lot on that, not just with the kids, but with the parents as well, because the parents play an important role in the process. Children who have greater support from their parents have quicker improvements”, she told The Portugal News.
However, managing parental expectations can sometimes be hard as well. “They want better school outcomes and that's why they take their kids to yoga, which isn't a false hope, because all of these benefits lead to a better performance. However, kids are often unable to concentrate because of the fear of failure, anxiety and pressure that parents convey. Therefore, it is very important to have the parents involved in the process”, she concluded.