Meditation and meditative movement can be for toddlers, preschoolers, school age kids - everyone!
What is important is that the practices - poses, breathing and meditation - are adapted to suit the age and abilities of participants. Naturally babies cannot assume a posture or follow directions on how to breathe or put this leg here, and look in that direction there, while breathing in.
Formal instruction can begin only when the participants are able to follow directions and have control of their movements and breathing at the same time. But until that stage of development, or with disabled people, an assistant can gently help the student move into and hold a pose, or sit or recline for meditation.
The benefit of moving meditative poses and meditation is manifold, including: increasing physical flexibility; developing connections between the right and left brain, as the poses are done equally to the right and left; calming the mind through even breathing in the postures and meditation; non-competitive, as it is for personal development - not a team sport.
About 1975 I fell into teaching children adaptations of traditional Eastern poses and meditation suited to their abilities quite by chance, as I had been a classical ballet dancer and when no longer performing I began studying the non-competitive poses, breathing practices and meditation. My year studying classical Hindu - Bharatanatyam dance was a background that contributed to my skill in Eastern disciplines.
Nowadays it is more common and accepted for both boys and girls to take meditative movement such as Tai chi and yoga as an alternate or additional physical regime to studying dance, learning gymnastics or sports. These disciplines are coming of age for everyone.
My own 5 children are successful adults and products of these early practices. My 30-something son tells me that after work he goes out in the backyard and does 20 minutes of meditation by himself to relax and rejuvenate. And, several times a week he does a long walking meditation with his dog in tow.
This shows me it is really a good idea to give kids the opportunity to learn meditation, controlled breathing, meditative movement and yoga techniques, the earlier, the better. They give a lifetime of methods to maintain or reclaim peace and harmony, body, mind and spirit!
Article by Susan Kramer; photo credit Stan Schaap
For offline reading
Meditation for Teens and Adults
More than 70 offerings, from guided meditation techniques to on-the-go stress relief and relationship meditations interspersed with verse, and a section of special occasion prayers. 114 pages.
Meditation for all Kids
Sitting, walking, dance and group circle meditations, along with positive affirmations, verses and benefits of meditation for kids of all ages and abilities in a 100 page book with illustrations.