With pose names like cat, cow, lizard, frog and dolphin, how could kids not love yoga?  Yoga is also a great choice to help kids stay active and cope with their daily stresses.  Giving them tools to deal with packed schedules, fights with friends and tough tests in school is priceless for their mental and physical wellbeing.  The better they feel, the better you’ll feel, too.

Here are just four reasons yoga is healthy for kids, plus a few poses you can try together.

Builds Coping Skills for Stress
Yoga is a practice of matching movement with breathing slowly and evenly, which helps encourage the body’s calming, “rest and restore” response.  A Stanford University project studied kids in a rough neighborhood who showed signs of mental trauma from just living their daily lives.  Researchers found that when the kids practiced poses and breathing with each other, they were eventually more calm and less angry about life.

Pose to manage anxiety: Seated Forward Fold

Improves Concentration and School Performance
When kids learn to focus on holding shapes, they learn to control their minds from wandering.   In fact, several studies found that yoga can even help kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a common childhood behavioral disorder. A National Institutes of Health study found yoga improved school performance (think: grades) and behavior – significantly.

Pose to calm the mind: Downward Dog

Increases Confidence and Poise   
Researchers at California State University found that kids who practice yoga feel good about themselves.  The mental practices and breath work helps them release negativity, while the physical postures create more poise and a stronger sense of self-esteem, propelling them toward achieving their goals.

Pose to feel strength and confidence: Mountain Pose

Supports Agility and Body Awareness
Holding poses and moving between challenging shapes helps kids improve flexibility and balance, while toning their muscles at the same time.  With stronger and more agile bodies, they’ll be less likely to get hurt in sports or fall.   Yoga can also help improve kids’ body awareness to support a positive self-image and possibly prevent eating disorders and obesity.

Pose to build balance and stretch upper and lower body simultaneously: Dancer’s Pose

Look for studios with kids yoga programs or accredited kids yoga teachers. Gaiam TV also has a few kids’ yoga videos you can get by subscription.  If you’d rather go by the book, we’ve listed a few of our faves on MyShop.

The ancient yogis created the poses at a time when life was more closely intertwined with nature, which is why so many yoga poses have animal and plant names.  Here’s another tip:  try to connect with nature for sense of grounding, such as a yoga class outdoors, a walk in the park, or growing a plant at home.  A family outing in nature  – maybe camping or a beach day – might do the same for the adults in the house, too.