By Madison Rogas, CEI Intern
Well, it does– summer yoga camps for youth are popping up around the U.S. as opportunities that encourage play, and fuel creativity, connections with peers, and empowerment of youth, all through yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. Each with a unique curriculum and mission, these camps use yoga and mindfulness to foster healthy summer experiences with tools that will benefit kids now and in the future.
Yoga: A mind-body practice
Yoga is a mind-body practice that was originally developed as a practice for achieving mental, emotional, and physical health. Derived from the Sanskrit word yuj meaning yoke or union, yoga traditionally incorporates four key components: physical poses, breathing exercises, deep relaxation techniques, and meditation (Butzer, van Over, Noggle Taylor, & Khalsa, 2015).
While many styles of yoga exist today, this article will focus on the Vinyasa, meaning ‘to place in a special way’, and Kundalini styles. Vinyasa movement is coordinated with your breath to flow from one pose to another (Cook, 2007). Kundalini Yoga incorporates more pranayama (breath work), meditation, and chanting mantras throughout the practice to awaken your energy (Cook, 2007).
Why this Sudden Emphasis on Yoga for Kids?
Children are asked to live in a world where they are constantly told to be quiet, sit still, and to pay attention, which goes against the very nature of being a child. With overscheduled extracurriculars, demanding class schedules, and hours of homework, it is difficult for kids to find time for creativity, play, and self-exploration. However, with yoga, children are actually encouraged to move their bodies, be creative, and connect with their bodies and minds. More and more schools in the U.S. are incorporating yoga into the curriculum as ways to address academic achievement and socioemotional well-being of their students. Many yoga experts recognize that introducing yoga at a younger age leads to the development of a more calm and confident adult (Eggleston, 2015).
Many studies have been completed in the last ten years whose findings speak to the benefits of yoga for kids. A 2015 research study of middle school students found that those who practiced yoga once a week for one academic year improved their self-esteem, felt more relaxed, and less stressed (Eggleston, 2015). Butzer et al. (2015) found that participation in a school-based yoga program may have a preventive effect on academic performance by reducing the possibility of declines in GPA.
In Dover, New Hampshire, ChildLight Yoga offers two summer day camp options for kids. ChildLight Yoga was founded by Lisa Flynn, E-RYT 500, who is also the founder and director of Yoga 4 Classroom, which provides evidence-informed yoga and mindfulness education to children and training for educations worldwide. Both camps at ChildLight Yoga focus on the development of the whole child and are intended to be fun, empowering, and educational.
- GirlPowerment Camp is offered for girls ages 8-12 as an opportunity to develop physical and emotional strength and a strong sense of self. The camp is designed to cultivate connection and friendships, while helping girls find their authentic voice. The camp will be centered around yoga, mindfulness, and self-reflection activities.
- Yoga and Mindfulness Adventure Camp is available for boys and girls ages 5-8 as a way for kids to explore concepts of: peace, respect, gratitude, confidence, and healthy living. The camp activities will include yoga-based movement, mindfulness, relaxation, art, journaling, and nutrition.
- For more information on both of these camps, please visit: http://childlightyoga.com/camps
- This camp is an opportunity for families to connect and discover Kundalini Yoga during the Summer Solstice Sadhana Celebration. 3HO describes this celebration as, ‘an opportunity to cleanse the mind, go beyond the ego and feel your spirit soar.’
- SYC has activities for children ages 0 to 17 and includes activities, such as: yoga and meditation, bhangra (traditional song and dance of the Punjab region of India), gatka (Indian martial arts), mantra and music, sports, crafts, and swimming.
- For more information on 3HO’s Solstice Youth Camp, visit: https://www.3ho.org/summer-solstice/solstice-youth-camp
BIG Power Yoga in Houston, Texas has developed the BIG Kids program whose mission is, ‘to empower people to live their biggest lives possible at the youngest age possible.’ The program is ‘committed to creating the space for kids to grow up with mindfulness, self-confidence, compassion, and creativity.’ While the studio offers kids’ vinyasa classes throughout the year, in the summer BIG Kids offers week long camps to provide kids with the opportunity to explore yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. Camps are offered throughout the summer for ages 3 to 7 and 8 to 12.
For more information on their Houston’s half and full-day camps, visit: https://bigpoweryoga.com/pages/big-kids
Butzer, B., van Over, M., Noggle Taylor, J.J., & Khalsa, S.B.S. (2015). Yoga may mitigate decreases in high school grades. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015.
Cook, J. (2007, August 28). Find your match among the many types of yoga.
Eggleston, B. (2015). The benefits of yoga for children in schools. International Journal of Health, Wellness & Society, 5(3), 1-7.