By Swati Basu Das — In the world of fitness, the thumb-rule is ‘the earlier the better’. But can you imagine crawling babies being encouraged to do yoga? “In our class, the little ones are encouraged to explore movement through basic poses, song, play, movement and stories,” said a spokesperson of a yoga studio in Muscat. Fitness instructors suggests parent should begin with ‘baby yoga’ with their children, which includes a set of practices to enhance playful interaction and communication between parent and baby to promote their healthy development. “This yoga perfectly complements baby massage and expands the benefits of touch with those of movement and relaxation,” said a yoga teacher Laxshmi Pie.
Baby yoga helps to attune to your baby’s needs and calm or stimulate them as appropriate with a sense of security and wellbeing. “It is beneficial for all babies, you don’t need to practice yoga or even know anything about yoga to get started with your baby,” she added.
As obesity crawls into early life of the young ones, baby yoga has become essential in an urban sedentary lifestyle. “Every day, babies spend a huge time sitting or sleeping in one place. Few minutes of yoga will help them start a healthy lifestyle,” said Suresh Kumar, who runs yoga classes in Muscat.
But it is the parents who are fitness buffs who are packing off their children, mostly below the age of 10, to yoga teachers closest to their homes. “At such a young age, children tend to be a bundle of unbridled energy. This could manifest itself in hyperactivity, aggression and lack of focus. Yoga helps tap that energy,” says Kumar.
An art-of-life yoga is believed to help children to concentrate, gives their body flexibility and strength, also balances the functioning of the glandular system and gets children into the habit of breathing correctly.
The body is at its flexible best in the pre-teen years. Limbs are supple and so are the bones. Hence, it’s easier for children to adjust themselves to a new regimen. “Through various ways, each body part is brought into play and young children respond to these body postures in their own way,” say yoga instructors.
The duration of the regimen can be between 15 minutes and an hour. “If your child is hyperactive, then regular yoga of 30 minutes will help cool down where more concentration should be given on breathing exercises or relaxation poses. Alternatively, a child who prefers a sedentary way of life can be taught energetic poses to boost the metabolism,” they said.
Doctors say several ailments, including asthma, are sometimes psychosomatic in nature and come into being owing to suppression of emotions. “An active exchange of thoughts in the yoga classes may alter the mental make-up of kids who tend to bottle up their feelings. It is also best practiced attain focus and increased moments of concentration,” said Pradeep Maheshwari, a doctor at a private clinic in Muscat.
Eight-year-old Ankit Saha would often fall ill and miss school until he took to yoga. “He was weak and often had fever. We took him to many doctors but to no avail. Practising yoga has improved his health,” said Rita Saha, an Indian expat living in Oman.
Mohammed Karim, 12, was suffering from gastritis. Eight years of regular yoga has almost cured him. “Since yoga plays a role in muscle and joint flexibility, my son has improved a lot,” says his mother Esha.
Swati Banerjee, 10, has found relief from severe asthma through yoga. “It was tough for me and my husband to see our child suffer so much. No medicines seemed to help. It was only after she joined yoga that things slowly improved,” said her mother.
Yoga offers a host of perks for the young. So, give your kids a healthy headstart today.