Ashtanga and Kids: Good or Not?

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An assistant at
Astanga Helsinki

The conclusion (according to Nancy): It’s okay for kids up to 12 years old as long as they don’t do headstands.

Nancy Gilgoff, one of the first American Ashtangis based on Maui, shared her thoughts in a workshop in Munich (October 2002)

Fine for small kids to play with asanas – although no headstands before the age of 12 as the bones of the skull aren’t completely fused yet.

Not so good for adolescents circa 14 to 17 – the bones are growing faster than the muscles, joints are unstable, stretching can be very uncomfortable & unpleasant.

Nancy has no problem with parents bringing small children into class – good opportunity for the childless students to learn to chill out and let go of their beliefs about how a yoga class “should” be…

Her daughter (now 19) does yoga but normally chooses to go to another teacher.

Alan Little generously wrote out his notes from this workshop, and they are full of nuggets not related to kids as well, a great resource for all of us. Thank you, Alan! Alan’s thoughts:

Having gone through the finishing sequence at one of Lino’s workshops with Lino’s six year old son Oliver and my friend Günther’s nine year old son Alex playing next to me, I completely agree.

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We like Navasana!
Kids in Japan courtesy of Jumex on Flickr

An additional resource on Ashtanga and kids is an extensive discussion that took place starting in January 2006 on the AshtangaYoga Yahoo Group. The discussion was started with this message:

Looks like I’ll have the opportunity to create a class for kids – grade school. I’m SO excited about sharing yoga with them. Does anyone have any advice and experience to share? Diane

There were dozens of replies, ranging “kids should not do yoga” to “yoga is the best thing for kids”. If you have a Yahoo login, you can follow the whole discussion which starts here.

2 thoughts on “Ashtanga and Kids: Good or Not?

  1. susan

    Headstand before the age of twelve not recommended? What about in gymnastics class, it’s taught there.
    And adolescents? Seems the perfect time for me..look at Sharath!

  2. Marcelo

    I think that yoga has to be taught very tightly attentioned by the teacher. If the teacher is able to guide the kids properly, they can do everything within the usual reasonable boundaries. With love from Sitges, bcn.

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