Friday, April 17, 2015

Yoga for Kids and Cross-Training

For me, yoga always had this sort of hippie, free-spirited, twist-your-body-in-weird-ways-on-the-beach vibe to it, that I never felt like I could truly relate to. Oddly enough, my newly-found interest in yoga actually came from Cameron. He practices yoga every Wednesday at school, in addition to his physical therapy. He has been coming home and telling us about "the yoga" that he's learned since he started preschool last year. When the opportunity arose for me to join some friends at a $5 Community Yoga class over this long, harsh winter, I took the dive!  

So when I started figuring out my training plan for my half marathon and now the marathon, I knew I wanted to incorporate yoga into my routine. Since Cameron is up at the crack of dawn every day anyway, I thought it would be a great opportunity for us both to do it together on my cross-training day!
Morning yoga is always done in PJs!

Here are some things I've learned and experienced about the benefits of yoga for kids:
  • Yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind.
    At the end of every yoga session that Cam and I do, we lay still on the ground for just about 60 seconds, but in those 60 seconds, we don't talk and we don't (try not to) move. Surprisingly enough, Cameron ACTUALLY does it. The more times we do it, the longer he lasts laying still in that position, and the better his concentration gets.
  • Yoga teaches us how to breathe better.
    Cameron is as crazy and energetic as any other 4 and a half year old boy, but when he does yoga, and he focuses on breathing deeply and fully, I can actually see the calm, peaceful affect it has on him.
  • Yoga teaches us about balance.
    It was interesting, this morning Cameron told me that he had a hard time doing tree pose because he was "too wobbly". - We've heard this before and it's part of the reason that he gets physical therapy, because his right side is much weaker than his left, due in part to the abnormality in his brain. He said he was going to put both feet on the ground because he couldn't do it. It was the perfect opportunity to talk about practicing things that we want to get better at. I'm hoping as we keep at it, I'll be able to show him, when he does tree pose, that he had once said he couldn't! This also teaches him about balance in the sense of having calm, meaningful time vs. energetic, crazy time. 
    Photo from:
All of the benefits of practicing yoga for children are equally beneficial for adults in general and for runners, plus:
  • Yoga squashes stress. Just as with children, helping to quiet the mind and focus on your body can relieve stressers and help your mind be clear! Plus, if you get your kids involved, they're occupied and not trying to climb you like a dog. 
  •  The strength and flexibility that you develop while practicing yoga, can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free by stretching the muscles that are tight, which in turn increases the range of motion in related joints.
By no means am I an expert and I've only taken a handful of classes and watched a number of videos, but the benefits I have seen in Cameron and myself, are great!
If you're interested, we do at least one episode of Cosmic Kids Yoga on Friday mornings and I want to start adding in our own routine too. It's as simple as googling "Yoga for kids" - there's so much out there! Cameron loves letters and numbers, so I think we'll start here
Have you done yoga with your kids, or maybe someone else's?
Have you found benefit from practicing yoga in your running form or mental strength?

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