Once upon a time, a healthy, happy child became a balanced, well-socialised adolescent, who then turned into a successful adult human. And we all lived
happily ever after.
That's the fairytale all parents are after, but how does this trajectory actually take place?
A growing body of evidence is identifying creativity as a key component for a successful transition into happy adulthood. Creativity encourages children to think on their feet rather than relying on spoon-fed information. Nurtured, this inspires independence in adolescents a beneficial quality during a time when peer pressure is a constant concern.
All the way into adulthood, creativity helps people deal with change, become entrepreneurs and stand out from the crowd and all positive features in a world that is increasingly overcrowded.
But how can creativity be stimulated? Isn't a child either born creative or... not? All children are naturally creative to some degree their curiosity and lateral thinking are testament to that. Every parent knows that children have an uncanny and inventive knack for explaining the ways of life and answering the tough questions, often with hilarious anecdotal results.
But unless this creativity is nurtured, it can diminish, as they become units within educational and social structures built on rules, regularity and rote learning.
The traditional ways of stimulating creativity storytelling, making art, physical movement such as dance and drama are as valid as ever. But another option is gaining popularity for its winning combination of physical, mental and creative aspects.
Children's yoga is on the rise and the creative benefits are manifold. Teacher Rebecca Schafer of The Places You'll Go; Yoga for Kids says that stories are incorporated into the classes to best stimulate the needs of a specific age group. For instance, she may draw on a classic and familiar children's story for the preschoolers, or imaginative 'made-up' stories for the over 5's, as the basis for a class. "Preschoolers, in particular, feel more comfortable and confident when they know what comes next hence the familiar stories," Schafer explains, whereas "the over 5's are more at home with a sense of anticipation about the unknown of a new story".
More than passively listening, children are encouraged to participate. "Throughout the stories and classes the children are given many opportunities to improvise," says Schafer. In one rendition of Little Red Riding Hood for example, "Butterflies are fluttering through the woods. As we all sit in butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana) the children each take turns to share the colour of their butterfly wings as we lift one leg at a time to look at these colours underneath our 'wings'".
As an individual-focused physical activity (rather than a competitive sport), yoga builds confidence at each session 'on the mat', and "In my experience creativity and confidence are inextricably linked whether kids know it or not," shares Schafer, who is also mother to Sara (5), Emma (3) and James (15 months). For some, this confidence and creativity is displayed in the first class, but for others, regular 'practice' can bring these qualities out. "One child in my classes started off very diligently copying exactly what I did," says Schafer. "Five weeks later, he gave himself the position of instructor's assistant and was helping two new children in the class, as well as adding imaginative detours on our adventure. Little Red Riding Hood came across many animals in her journey through the woods, and this yogi added dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes."
There is no such thing as a magic ingredient when it comes to parenting. The aim is simply to provide the best conditions for children to flourish. And when it comes to the aim of trying to encourage their creativity, children's yoga is both a practical and healthy option.
By Nicky Lobo
Book your child in now for some fun and stimulation and receive their first class free at
The Places You'll Go Yoga For Kids