Why Kids Don’t Need Yoga — Guest Post

Hi iakbyrifes
Readers — Please note that this guest post is not ANTI yoga for kids. Nothin’ wrong with bending and stretching, no matter what age. What IS wrong, says Hara Estroff Marano, editor at large at Psychology Today and author of the inspiring, insightful and all together fabulous book A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting, is when yoga becomes a substitute for good old-fashioned free play. When I was asked to be on Fox News today for a feature on kiddie yoga, I deferred to Hara — a friend —  because I figured she’d have a more fully formed opinion. And boy did she! Voila! – L. 

Yoga for kids. What’s next?
I think it is a mad idea, an example of an adult activity foisted on kids. It is not an activity children gravitate to on their own.
Look, for millions of years kids have found ways to run, jump, gambol, hide, seek and otherwise enjoy themselves, burn energy, gain social skills, exchange and build knowledge from their peers, and otherwise create a cohort…all the while building their brain (which is what active play does).
Yoga is a solitary exercise, not something kids need more of.
Kids don’t need to learn how to shut out the world, they need to learn how effectively engage in it. They need activities and they have been great at devising them over the millennia: activities that stimulate brain growth factors ( which active, contact play does), that encourage them to learn how to negotiate their differences with other children, that build social skills, that allow them to come together and invent activities that in some way address the world they are inheriting, and that subtly mold them into a unique generation or cohort with its own sensibilities.
Kids don’t need yoga.
Yes, kids need quiet activities sometimes. But activities of their own devising, not handed down, ready-made from the adult world.
This is just another way parents impose on children what children don’t need. Children have other needs, and parents make the mistake of rationalizing that what is good for them is therefore good for their children. It’s a real blindness to children’s developmental needs.
In addition to misunderstanding kids’ needs, kiddie yoga IS a way of shielding them from the real world, a world where kids have to learn how to engage with on their own terms, a world that is much more active. Parents would rather see their kids sit quietly in a gym than run with other kids in a playground or park.
Children allowed to play freely are in possession of the best stress-reduction method in the world, one adults tend to look back on with great fondness. – H.E.M.
Can’t you see? Kids need to PLAY!


95 Responses to Why Kids Don’t Need Yoga — Guest Post

  1. Dave January 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Good post. Very well said.

  2. Dr. Kwame M. Brown January 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    I come to you as a free (and many other types of) play advocate, “playtitioner”, and guide. I must say your article shows a perspective that is just as narrowed as those who think yoga is the holy grail to end all others.

    in my 15 years playing with thousands of kids and adolescents, I can tell you that some absolutely do gravitate toward yoga and Pilates. It is simply another construct to play with.

    You write a very reactionary article here, seeming to suggest that if kids practice yoga (which they certainly can do just sometimes), this is in exclusion of all other things. That hasn’t been my experience at ALL with kids.

    Maybe you are reacting to SOME who are overly forceful about the practice of yoga. But, I can tell you as someone who is also heavily trained in yoga (as well as about 5 other movement constructs), that ain’t yoga! That is uptight people practicing poses.

    Let kids try different things: organized play, free play, cooperative play, yoga, dance, sport, etc. It’s not play anymore if you restrict from a construct that they may in fact be interested in if exposed.

    Further, yoga is not about “shutting” out the world permanently. It is about focus inward for a few moments. It is about calming. I have seen this practice, within an overall experience that includes other things, be very beneficial for kids and teens.

    Finally, yoga is not “handed down from adults” unless we make it that way. It has been handed down through many generations, just like hide and go seek. Just like tag. Just like hiking. I am truly sorry you have run into some that think they understand it but clearly don’t.

  3. Deena Blumenfeld RYT, RPYT, LCCE January 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    I do believe the author has never participated in a children’s yoga class. It’s not introverted or individual. It’s full of pretending to be animals (barking in down dog!), storytelling, acting out the story with your body, going on an adventure, shooting arrows in Archer pose (modified Warrior II), etc.

    Much of kids yoga is partner work. They work with a buddy, take turns, etc.

    A kids yoga class *is* play. It’s structured play like Music Together, or Gymboree. It looks nothing like an adult yoga class.

    It will also vary by age. 3-5 yr olds need a different type of class than 6-8 yr olds, and so on.

    As a yoga teacher, my kids play with their yoga at home. My 3 yr old will brush her teeth in tree pose because it’s fun to stand on one leg… not because I ask her to. In my house, yoga comes in fits and spurts and is initiated by my kids. And it often comes in the backyard or at the playground.

    A lot of what you refer to in your article is related to breathing and meditation. Most kids aren’t ready for that till age 12 or so… many not till much later. The master yoga teachers, historically, didn’t teach these to children anyway. The poses, or asana, are to prepare you to be able to sit with your body in meditation.

    So, long story short, I think your author misunderstands what a kids yoga class is and how it works. Just look to programs like this one, run by a friend of mine, for more information http://yogainschools.org/

  4. K Virtue January 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    Oh my. I disagree so strongly with the article. Any body movement is good for our children. And it is our duty as parents to teach them all sorts of things and expose them to healthy ideas. That is not to say we should expect them to be devotees of Bikram or plan their own routines for 2 hrs a day. Age appropriate learning is a GOOD thing that gives them the tools to make their own INDEPENDENT decisions.

    We go to OM Kids Yoga in RI. My 5 year old LOVES IT. Lenore: Come to RI and I will make the arrangements for you to come to the studio! ( and that is a serious offer)

  5. Ellen January 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Interesting aside: S. Pattabhi Jois in india taught his Ashtanga yoga to many adolescent boys who gravitated toward active, strength-buliding stuff. (i suspect that’s kinda why Ashtanga can be super-hard on middle-age bodies.)

  6. Tim January 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Are you sure this article isn’t anti-yoga for kids? Because I’ve read it three times and it still sounds that way to me. Do kids naturally gravitate to ballet, or organized sports, or gymnastics, or story time, or any other activity a parent or teacher asks them to do? I wouldn’t think so. It sounds like the author has a beef with any organized activity for kids, but a stronger beef against yoga, and a good parent would never sign their kid up for anything ever if they really cared about them.

    How many childrens classes are geared to ensuring kids only do this one activity to the exclusion of any other? How many parents tell their kids, “I’m signing you up for this class, so you better not play any other time because I can’t take the noise?”

    My four year old’s preschool offers yoga, and we signed her up for it this past fall. It’s one day a week for an hour. Does she “need” it? No, we thought she’d enjoy it. Now this author’s trying to make me feel like a bad parent for doing so.

  7. Laura January 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    The author of this piece obviously has never been to a child’s yoga class and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. The sweeping generlizations and assumptions as to what children do and do not need only show her to be… Oh never mind. It’s not worth it. But, I’m a little surprised that Lenore re-posted it.

  8. Jen January 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I am in agreement with the comments above. I am guessing (hoping) the original author of the yoga article is commenting more on the recent trend to overschedule kids in craft or sports classes when those kids could be spending that time playing outside with siblings, friends, and self. THIS I completely agree with and am in full support of. However, to single yoga out as some sort of example of what not to do because it isn’t allowing kids to express themselves as children is just plain wrong.

    First of all, yoga classes for children are in no way, shape, or form like yoga for adults. Most of the class is spent in “pretend” play as a way for kids to explore their own bodies and minds with other children. Secondly, there are absolutely some children who benefit strongly from yoga’s excellent meditative and relaxation techniques. In fact, I think it’s safe to say ALL children can benefit from this. But especially children with special needs and/or kids who simply need additional help winding down and quieting the mind.

    Out of the handful of extracurricular classes my kids have experienced in their short lives so far, yoga has been the most popuiar, hands down. And we have no intention of stopping. To say “yoga for kids” is a waste of time and not good for kids is like saying we ought to cut PE from schools because, again, it hinders “freedom of play” in children. Frankly, I’d be more supportive of modifying a PE program to allow more free-play time and more “alternative” fitness programs like yoga.

    Anyway, thumbs down on today’s posting.

  9. Wendy January 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    This article really bugs me, as does the “disclaimer” at the beginning. Saying that yoga shouldn’t become a substitute for “good old-fashioned free play” is a perfect example of setting up an imaginary straw man to knock down. I have never heard of anyone or any organization that promotes or offers yoga suggesting that kids should do yoga at the expense of all other forms of play or exercise.

    And as other commenters have pointed out, Hara Marano has obviously never observed a kids’ yoga class, because they are not exercises in solitary stillness.

    I love this website, but this article is ridiculous.

  10. Farrar January 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I just don’t see kids having free play and kids doing yoga as diametrically opposed. As others are pointing out, kids doing free play isn’t diametrically opposed to kids doing other more structured play activities like ballet, T-ball, soccer, drama and so forth either. Kids need both structure and freedom in life. Our society has gone too far toward structure in children’s lives, but that doesn’t need we need to rail against perfectly legitimate structured activities.

  11. baby-paramedic January 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I am wondering if yoga in the US is different to yoga as I experienced in my childhood? (An Indian parental figure). Then this article would make much more sense.

    I also disagree with children not being drawn towards meditation – I was, and at a much younger age than normal, that surprised many of the teachers. I enjoyed it as I found a way to keep my mind calm and to shut out certain stimuli (like distracting noises). Important as I always felt my mind raced as a child (and had annoying/loud brothers!).
    Those earlier skills are dreadfully useful now. I can selectively calm my mind, and tune stimuli in and out with relative ease.

  12. mollie January 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Okay, I’m in. I DO (on some level) object to ALL organized activities for kids, and I’ll admit that when I’ve scheduled my kids, it’s more about my own needs than theirs.

    What is it about for me, my objection? It’s about balance. Kids spend a lot of time sleeping, then a lot of time in school. What’s left seems to be blithely scheduled by adults. Free play is endangered.

    I, too, see free play as FAR more valuable to children than any organized activity, even yoga.

  13. BlueRidge January 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    I agree with previous posters that this essay seems to misunderstand yoga for kids significantly. While I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea to limit all play time to yoga (!), yoga can be wonderfully fun for children of all ages, including infants. It can be a great way for very, very young babies to bond with their parents and engage in a calming activity as they wind down before bed, and for older kids it has a wide range of other benefits, many listed above by other commenters. Yoga classes are interactive and playful, and while kids need unstructured play, too, I can’t imagine that Free Range Kids is actually advocating that children never ought to participate in structured play and learning with adults! Yoga’s not for every kid, but lots of children love learning new ways to stretch and balance–finding out what interesting things their bodies can do (and then incorporating these exciting new discoveries into free play outside of class). Lots of children with anxiety, ADD, and other conditions that frequently lead to their being medicated or punished also find yoga a great technique to develop strategies for calming, concentrating, or expending energy. Sure, over-scheduling your kid so they only have time for yoga and other classes with no free time is a bad idea, as is forcing a kid who hates yoga to go to yoga class. But lots of kids like it, and find it fun, and may even get other benefits from it! I know I loved doing yoga with my mom when I was in preschool and elementary school.

  14. Josh January 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    The author also seems to miss that you don’t need to take a class to practice Yoga. Practicing yoga can be done on one’s own without an instructor. It very well can be part of free play time. I’d bet that many kids who receive some basic yoga instruction would be very happy to practice yoga on their own just for the fun of it.

  15. cb January 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    So an article that describes kids yoga as a “mad idea” and says “kids don’t need” it isn’t ANTI? I’m interested in reading an article that IS now.

  16. mollie January 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    My son is involved with Little League baseball, and it makes me cringe. It is so obviously a concoction of adults, sized down for kids, and the whole thing is a lot of men projecting themselves and their athleticism (or lack thereof) onto pre-pubescent boys.

    And yet, my son loves it, and sought it out. When he’d had enough, his father bargained with him to stay in baseball, because Dad has an Agenda (with a capital “A”), but I’m not sure what that’s about. I say let the kid gravitate toward what he enjoys.

    Back to yoga. Look, folks, I don’t think yoga is on trial here, but to suggest that children benefit more from a class where an adult urges them to pretend to be an animal is somehow better for them than going outside with their own pals and pretending to be animals seems… oh, I don’t know, very 21st century.

    We don’t seem to be anxious to prepare children for the stuff of life, like cleaning the house, and yet, we’re very intent on teaching them sports, as if regular old playing weren’t physical enough already. We take them to yoga classes because WE see the benefit in yoga, but maybe WE don’t quite see the benefit of outdoor play and imagination that is child-driven.

    I guess I don’t care how “fun” yoga classes for kids are. I think they’re just one more way we hem kids in and structure their scarce “down” time. I’m teaching my kid about breathing, because I can see it will help with her anxiety issues. But the last thing we need is to rush off to another structured activity! That won’t help her anxiety in the least.

  17. Warren January 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Wow, you all need to take a step back off the yoga mats, and re-read the post. It is not anti yoga.

    What this poster is getting at is that yoga is not a substitute for active freeplay. Hence the line about quietly participating in a gym instead of running around a playground.

    Yes yoga can be beneficial to anyone, as there is alot of pro athletes use yoga to compliment their workouts. Pro athletes also know that yoga is not a complete workout for them, just another tool in the toolbox.

    And yes there is parents out there that will limit their child’s physical activity to things like yoga, for fear of injury in other sports, or activities. Not with yoga in particular, but I have seen it numerous times that kids want to play hockey, football, baseball, skateboarding, skiing and on and on, but are not allowed because Mom is afraid they will get hurt.

    I have coached hockey and softball, and even though allowed to play, the parents of some kids still try to overprotect them. They feel they can tell me as coach how to do my job. For example, at the end of every ball practice my team would be around me at home plate. They would be told to race out to the centerfield fence and back to home plate. The last two to homeplate packs up the equipment. None of the kids ever had a problem with it.

    Here are some of the common complaints by parents.
    1. too far to run
    2. too competitive
    3. might fall and get hurt
    4. too tired at the end of practice
    5. not fair to slower runners

    The best one ever was a parent telling me that the kids play one game a week, and one practice a week was to much for the child.

    Kids doing yoga because they want to is fine, but kids doing yoga as a substitute for other play and activity is wrong.

  18. Erika Shira January 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

    I’m a child mental health therapist and expressive arts therapist. I agree with most of the premises of the free range kids philosophies, and I certainly share most of your concerns around upwardly mobile parents overscheduling their children in activities that are more about status and achievement than actual happiness or life skills.

    Yet I too find this stance a bit extreme. As others have said, yoga is great for kids who have anxiety, AD/HD, ASD, or just plain don’t know what to do with themselves. I only know very much about yoga of the type that is related to spiritual practices, not the yuppie-gym-type yoga that focuses on competitiveness and being thin, but authentic yoga teaches kids some great skills, and a lot of them really enjoy it. I’ve incorporated it into my work with kids in schools and treatment programs, and they start to realize how breathing and moving helps them manage themselves and they quickly pick up the techniques and use them as coping skills on their own.

    Additionally, I find the singling-out of yoga a bit ethnocentric. It’s a religious practice for many families. Would you have posted an article about how children don’t need prayers or holidays or houses of worship, and that these things are foisted on them by adults? Adults DO get to choose their children’s religion and it IS reasonable for caregivers to expect that the child participate and be basically respectful of his/her family’s beliefs. (And they can and do obviously grow up fine without organized religion too, but in a household that practices one, it’s going to be unsettling for a young child to NOT be expected to participate to an extent.)

  19. Meg January 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Food for thought. And I believe the author was not addressing yoga as a form of religious practice, but as the low-impact, noncompetitive health activity or limbering exercise it has become as an adopted, non-religious practice in the US.

    Kids who are in school all day, do have an issue with finding enough time for free play, and most especially free hard physical play. Most kids’ athletic activities are more done to them, than by them, as everything about organized athletics, has been ordained by adults and imposed in that form, on the kids. The kids themselves don’t get to organize it, referee it, or decide spontaneously when to engage in it and when not to.

    Not that yoga is evil or anything, but kids in America as a whole are hurting for the chance to have the freedom to just go out in the neighborhood without adults surrounding them like a security detail, and play stick-ball, climb trees, hide and seek til dusk, organize teams and have their organized efforts fall apart only to reorganize, bicker, and attempt it again until it works, or else find something else to do.

    There is never a chance for that kind of experiential learning, in a world where a kid never makes a decision on their own, never takes a chance on their own, never has to (or is never allowed to!) fix their own problems. I think it produces a kind of institutionalized mentality, and the effects of institutionalization on the individual have been researched already.

  20. Sas January 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    I don’t know about classes, but I remember the times I practiced yoga with my father. We’d sit together quietly and he’d teach me to focus on my breathing. It’s something we could experience together and very special dad-daughter time. We might have enjoyed a class together too. I played outside and with other kids, but yoga added something I did not know.

  21. Jennifer January 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I agree with all the previous posters. I run a karate school and we used to have a kids yoga teacher here as well. Her class was awesome and the kids loved it! It was not “solitary practice”, the kids all did the moves together, most of them silly and fun ways to learn how to control their bodies. Obviously if you are forcing your child to practice yoga for hours after school every day, or you are making them do yoga because you are afraid of the playground, it is a bad thing. But I agree with the poster who said that anything that gets kids moving is a good thing. In that regard, yoga is no different from dance, karate, gymnastics, soccer or any other physical activity. There is nothing wrong with structured classes on some days and free play on the others.
    By the way, we often have the kids sit in silent “meditation” for a minute or two at the end of our karate classes. It is a great way to teach them to calm their bodies and minds, which is a useful skill for all areas of their life.

  22. ifsogirl January 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    My oldest daughter has been interested in Yoga since she was two. It’s not someting I practice at all, just once my uncle was over and he showed her a few poses and she was hooked. She’s now 8y/o and is still asking me to either put her in a kids class or get a DVD for at home. Unfortunatally I can’t afford the first and I haven’t found a good DVD for kids. She is a very active child and is constantly moving. It has been suggested that I have her tested for ADHD. During my readings yoga is one of the things they suggest to help kids with ADHD become more aware of their own bodies.

  23. Alicia January 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    I was so happy when my daughter decided that while she likes to play soccer, she doesn’t want to be on the soccer team. She plays quite often at recess, and I am happy with that.

    As for yoga, she keeps asking me when she can go to my yoga class. She and her brother often learn some of the things I do in yoga, and can often do it better than I. They LOVE yoga – what parts they know of it.

    We don’t have a local kids yoga class available, but if it was, I would allow them to attend, but that would be the one organized activity they could do, as I limit their activities, due to both finances, and making sure they have free play time.

    As a yogi myself, I see many benefits of yoga for kids. If my kids can keep the flexibility they have now, which they don’t often get with other sports, it will help their health long-term. Adults from dancers to football players seek out yoga. No reason why kids can’t do yoga.

  24. Andrea G. January 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    I get the point that yoga shouldn’t substitute recess, but I, too, have trouble seeing this as not anti-yoga.

    “In addition to misunderstanding kids’ needs, kiddie yoga IS a way of shielding them from the real world, a world where kids have to learn how to engage with on their own terms, a world that is much more active.”

    Really? My highly athletic, homeschooled son doing an hour of kids’ yoga at his request once a week when his sports schedule allows, is me shielding him from the real world? That’s what it says in that quote, no matter how you want to spin it. I do yoga, it has helped me work through some serious physical problems, and my son liked what I was doing and wanted to take the kids’ class at our gym. He loves the class — it is very active and full of games and fun. He doesn’t see it as meditative, either — for him it’s competitive and a way to show off his prowess (not the point of yoga at all, but perfectly okay!) For a homeschooled kid, sometimes something organized is a welcome relief from all of the free time in the day.

    This article should be aimed at organized sports and exercise in general, not just yoga. I do get the argument that organized sports are contrived and more for the adults than the kids. Except, I have a kid who absolutely loves organized sports, as much as he loves shooting hoops with the neighborhood kids in the raggedy old hoop in our cul-du-sac. I think this article imposes its own agenda about free range and hands-off parenting. I parent with that agenda myself, but I’ve discovered that it’s detrimental to my son if I impose it on him when it isn’t what he wants or needs.

  25. Christina January 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    I would be very interested in your friend’s experience with kiddie yoga, because it seems very different than that of my friends and peers. Not for nothing, but yoga has been around for thousands of years – I kind of doubt it’s been the exclusive domain of adults until now. Personally, I have much more of an issue with travel teams for kids than yoga for kids. Done properly, pretty much ALL children’s sports (yoga, martial arts, soccer, baseball, etc.) are conducted differently than the adult version thereof. I have 2 of the most rambunctiously boyish boys you can imagine. They get plenty of free play, they run, jump, gambol, hide and seek and anything else that they can come up with (including rappelling off our deck with my bike chain); and yet they both love Nia and yoga. Why? They enjoy the physical mastery required, and the focus of yoga in particular helps them calm themselves down when they have flipped into complete tasmanian devil mode. Do they do either for more than about 15-20 minutes before moving on to something else? No, and that is just fine. They are 5. They rarely do anything for more than about 15-20 minutes.

  26. mollie January 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Here’s an idea: how about putting yoga into schools instead of the standard P.E.? I like that idea. Then yoga is part of an already structured school environment. I know a school here that does meditation and yoga every day as part of the curriculum. Way happier with that than bent-arm hangs and the 50-yard dash…

    I guess what I took from the original post was that the idea of *imposing* something structured, like a yoga class, the aim of which is to offer physical conditioning, mental balance and self-connection is actually less effective than releasing children into their self-created world of play, without adult intervention.

    I think we adults imagine that we’d rather do yoga than play, that yoga is more effective for *us.* But yoga was not developed by children in India, it was developed by adults. Children absolutely want to bend their bodies, and might benefit from yoga as a part of their structured time of the day. But in their time “off” from school? I dunno.

  27. Sally January 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Love it. If all the comments don’t prove how badly this needs to be said, than I don’t know what does. Thanks for posting this Lenore.

  28. becky January 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I’ll start worrying about yoga for kids when we start seeing fights between yoga parents at practices. And when kids are cut from class because their camel pose isn’t up to snuff. And when mindfulness starts getting in the way of schoolwork!

  29. Warren January 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Okay folks, sorry but I have read enough.

    Replace standard PE with yoga? Really? Part of regular PE is to expose kids to all forms of pys ed, sports, competition, team work, hand eye coordination and so on. Yoga can be a part of that, but not replace it. That is what this article was about.

    Meditation, turning inward, and mind and body? They are kids for crying out loud. What in their life is going on that they need time to turn inward?

    Yoga is fine, it is great, but it is not a substitute for play, or sports, or just getting outside and letting off some steam.

    Yoga is a fantastic part of a healthy lifestyle, but yoga alone, for kids is not enough. They need exposure to a helluva lot more than just yoga and a class.

    Sorry but get over your tunnel vision, that yoga is being attacked, because it is not. The idea of using yoga to get physical activity while keeping the child in a controlled atmosphere, under strict guidlines is the issue. Note the title, “Why kid`s don`t need yoga`

    Didnt say shouldnt do yoga, just they don`t need yoga. Big difference.

  30. Warren January 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm #


    Sorry but it is your point of view that is part of the problem. Other than the fighting parents, which I agree with. Those that do not feel it is right to have players cut from teams, should not enroll kids in that level of competition, and stick to the house leagues, where everyone plays.

    COMPETITION is a good thing, a healthy thing. Winning and losing is all healthy. Oh wait winning and losing is life, and how you deal with it is a life skill. Never judge a person by how they lose, judge them by how they win.

    Yes, getting cut from a team is disappointing. Been there done that. Never did it again, because I really wanted to be on that team, and I worked out, practised until I made the team the next year.

    I coach in the house league in hockey, and ball, as well as the town`s rep team in ball. Every spring 40 kids tryout for 18 spots on the team. Every spring I cut 22 kids. That is life, and life lessons.

  31. Christina January 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    Warren – I agree with you about yoga as a replacement for P.E. (FWIW, my kids learned about yoga (and hockey, baseball, basketball, tumbling, etc) in P.E.). I disagree with you that the article was not an attack on yoga as an activity for kids. It is a polemic by someone who does not appear to really grasp yoga as practiced by either adults or kids (or to even be aware there is more than one school of yoga). None of us are saying kids NEED to do yoga, just that the author’s wholesale objection to it is baseless.

  32. Steve January 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    1.) How many “different activities” should a child be forced to “try” or “participage in” during the first 12 years of life?

    2.) How long should the child be FORCED to participate in each one if he/she doesn’t want to engage?

  33. cb January 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm #


    You claim that others have tunnel vision and need to read the article, but you seem to skip over what is actually said in it. The author describes it as a ‘mad idea’ and goes beyond saying they don’t need it-suggesting that it is at odds with developmental needs. Sorry, but that isn’t a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. Quit yelling at people for reading beyond the title of the post.

  34. Sky January 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    When we were kids, where I grew up, at the elementary level, there were basically THREE organized activities available to us:

    Community Soccer
    Community Baseball
    Boyscouts/Girlscouts/ Awanas (take your pick)

    That was really about all that was on offer on the elementary level, so it was really hard to get oversheduled.

    Now there are literally HUNDREDS of activities and classes for elementary school children to choose from on top of school. It can exhaust a parent, especially if you have a curious kid with erratic interests. We’ve had to establish a “one activity per semester rule.” They chose Tae Kwon Do. Like yoga, it’s not bad – it’s exercise, and maybe they learn some discipline. Like yoga, it’s unnecessary – they’re too young to really maser lasting skills, and they could get the exercise just as easily running around outside. Like yoga, it’s a money making machine for the providers.

    But the kids love it, and this is our culture now, to be seen “doing sports” or “doing fitness.” So I play along, and they get along just fine, with free time left over.

    I think kids yoga is just a symbol of what perhaps really irks this author deep down – – the realization that we parents are a generation of dupes, throwing our money away on classes and activities that do nothing more to benefit our children than letting them loose in the park would do, and yet we can’t seem to escape this culture we’re a part of, and if we deny our children organized acitivites and say, “no way in hell we’re spending more than $200 a year on the sum total of all your activities at the elementary level, I mean, you’re 8 years old for Pete’s sake!” well, they are the weird kids out, and the streets are empty and lonely.

  35. Warren January 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Yoga was developed by adults for adults, and then capitalized on by instructors, to extend it to kids. The amount of benefit physically that can be obtained by yoga, for a child, is all part and parcel of most any sport out there, without them being in a controlled enviroment.

    Yes sports have their form of controlled enviroments, by rules, and time limits. Unlike yoga, most active activities force the player to think, react, analyse, anticipate, compensate, strategize and so on. All of which are more important developementally than streching, breathing and barking.

    I am not saying that yoga is bad, just not what a child needs. NEEDS is the key word. If they want to do yoga that’s great, but they need more.

    Hell I’ve had a yoga instructor help me with physical therapy for a bum shoulder and knees. Yoga stretches has helped me to keep participating, in the activities I love.

    Do I count yoga, or weight lifting, as activities kids need? NO. Me I do need to do them if I want to stay in shape, and keep the lifestyle I currently enjoy.

    And yes yoga, that encourages quiet, solitary behaviour is quite the opposite of what kids need. Kids have enough downtime, and time alone, they don’t need more.

  36. Tiffany January 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    A number of people are noting how kids don’t need solitary activities because they have too much of that already.

    This misses the whole point of yoga. Kids do not have truly downtime. They have screen time where they are left alone with a TV. Or computer time where they are physically alone (if not socially, depending on what games they play) but with entertainment handed to them. Or they have a phone or gaming device in their hands.

    That is not downtime. Not for their brains, anyway. If you wanted to have a solitary yoga practice (and kids yoga is NOT a solitary yoga practice by any means, so that’s wrong on the first place), it would not include these outside distractions. It would help teach kids how to be with just themselves, no extra input, no external entertainment, merely listening to their own thoughts, their own bodies, their own selves.

    Honestly, most adults are too scared to do this, and so can’t even fathom teaching their kids to do it, even though they know and can feel it would be beneficial. Even though kids yoga isn’t solitary at all, learning these sorts of things – how to *be* as opposed to how to react or watch or listen or press buttons – would actually be pretty darn helpful. And yes, sometimes we need some guidance – as kids too – even without structure.

  37. mollie January 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    I am 100%, over-the-moon enthusiastic about encouraging kids to learn about self-connection and mindfulness, and I don’t think it necessarily has to happen in a class setting.

    Here’s how I remember it, as a child: I lay on my back on the ground, looking at clouds, noticing my thoughts.

    These days, I’m taking a more active approach in disseminating this to my kids, and find these books helpful:


    During a few quiet moments of our evenings, at bedtimes, I read some of these. It helps me connect to my kid, and my kid to connect to him / herself. I see value in this, in my being the one to share what has benefited me in my life. I think this is an important part of preparing my kids for life.

    I think the defenses here of yoga classes for kids, insisting that they are fun and active, completely misses the point. Kids definitely seem to enjoy fun and active classes. Why, they’ve grown up expecting us to arrange all the fun activities for them. And whether it’s a fun activity with a spiritual bent or a competitive bent or an artsy bent, it’s still arranged by US, the adults.

    The most compelling responses here are the ones in which people describe their delight in sharing yoga with a parent. That resonates for me. And I think the nail has been hit on the head, those noticing that yoga classes for kids are a great way to “cash in” on a trend, rather than filling a vital need for kids.

    Why are kids so stressed in the first place? Hmmmm…. let’s ponder that one…

  38. Krista January 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Free play?! I still do it and am in midlife! I think teaching our children has to do with leading by example. I practice yoga and enjoy it tremendously. Yes, children practice yoga naturally and need to have free time. Sometimes free time is very forgotten in the midst of technology and our scheduled, hectic lives. It is helpful to slow down in this world and take a few moments to breathe, be mindful and be grateful. Here is a link to a TED talk from Kristen Race in Denver: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awd0kgxcZws
    (Lenore: Sometimes I think you like to challenge your audience. Is that true? 🙂 )

  39. mollie January 3, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    Krista, I really enjoyed this talk you linked to. So much shared reality and inspiration for me. It’s absolutely what my life’s work is based around, and what I am sharing with my kids.

  40. Angelica January 3, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Goodness gracious, people! So many crazy things and defensiveness in these comments! Look, let’s face it: there’s a segment of our population that thinks if it’s good for adults, it’s good for kids, and if we can keep kids in a organized (even if it’s organized play) environment, then they are “safer.” It’s this attitude that is pushing kids into organized sports, martial arts, and yoga *at the expense of free play*.

    If your kid WANTS and YEARNS to do yoga (or organized sports or martial arts), then go for it. But it shouldn’t be a top-down decision, and it shouldn’t be to “shield” them from danger or (at least, this is how it would be in the type-A personality Washington DC suburbs where I live) to beef up their resumes or give them an “edge” over other kids.

    Basically what this author and Lenore are saying is LET KIDS BE KIDS.

    My son took all sorts of dance classes with “play” and music classes with “play” and none of these are substitutes for free, child-directed play. None.

    And, btw, what we need more of in school is recess, not organized PE or yoga instead of PE or any of that.

    Comments rarely make me this mad, but this time, I hardly even feel like I’m on the Free Range Kid website.

  41. Kimberly January 3, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    I let my child lead in activities for the most part. She was overscheduled and let me know it., so we whittled it down and she is happy now. I will say that If she asked to do yoga (she knows what it is) I would let her. And, I think that is Lenore’s point. If a kid wants to take it, it’s cool. But don’t fill their lives with activities to substitute for the free playing they aren’t getting. Not every activity has to be organized.
    That is the point that is being missed. It isn’t about yoga per se. It’s about overorganizing every second of a child’s life so that they don’t have time to play with neighborhood kids, climb trees, ride the bikes, etc…

  42. hineata January 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    @Warren – loved/ was also a bit sickened by your bit about kids running to centre field and back to warm down, and the parental reaction. Personally I would have been the child who was always last back, so I probably wouldn’t have bothered about the run and just commenced to picking up the gear, it being a done deal anyway! But I know it never bothered me much to come in last, it was just a fact of life (being a klutz with a congenital leg problem), and as you say, it doesn’t seem to bother the kids on your team either. I do wish parents would butt out of that sort of thing…..

    As for the yoga, I personally would not want my kids taking it, for religious reasons. But as long as there was an opt-out for such reasons, then there’s probably not a lot of problem it happening at school, as long as it doesn’t replace more physical activities, IMHO.

  43. Lollipoplover January 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    The after school winter enrichment activities currently offered by our elementary school are:
    Soccer (indoor), Yoga, Chess, Lego building, and Young Rembrants (drawing). All are indoor, structured, and my kids have absolutely no interest in any of them. They all play soccer already and like it outdoors. Honestly, they prefer to spend their after school free time playing with friends outside.

    Biking, sledding, basketball, snowball battles, and pick up street hockey games where kids interact with other kids and run the show are always happening on our street. The point of free play is that KIDS choose what they want to do, right?

    And for the record, I do yoga every Wednesday and love it. I hope my kids love it one day too! For now, they choose to play outside. Sometimes it’s the simple things.

    Namaste, people.

  44. Andrea G. January 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Reading over these comments again, I think the problem is a poorly written post. Some of us are responding to what is written, such as “I think it is a mad idea, an example of an adult activity foisted on kids. It is not an activity children gravitate to on their own.” (And when some of our children do gravitate to it on their own? Should they be kept out of a yoga class they want to go to because some lady on the internet thinks it’s not what children need? What if yoga is what some of them, as individuals do need?) Others are defending the article because Lenore told us the writer intended an underlying not anti-yoga message, a message more about letting kids run around and do their thing, and it does seem like this is what the writer was trying to get at. But I’ve looked at the article several times, and her point is not clear at all — she gets muddled down in trying to explain that children need to be more active (neglecting the fact that, as many of us have pointed out, our childrens’ yoga classes ARE active, playful, and social) and bases her argument on the assumption that, if children are in a yoga class, it is because their parents are forcing them to be there.

  45. shannon January 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

    In Germany our kids had long outside recess everyday unless it was raining. Snow? Hope you brought your snowsuit because you are going outside. They were encouraged to run, jump, climb, and play soccer. They had regular PE but they also had yoga class a few times a week. Yoga taught my very active son how to calm himself. I think there is room in childhood for both play and yoga.

  46. Tiffany January 3, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    I’m glad that all of those who are saying that we don’t need organized activities have communities around them of people they can gather with and let their kids free play every day. (I’m not being sarcastic; I am really glad for them.)

    Not all of us have that. I’m a SAHM and most of my friends with kids work, so no opportunities there. My neighbors’ kids are older and generally have different schedules. I’ve tried local mom’s groups, and their timing has rarely worked with my daughter’s nap time. I call up those friends with kids I do have, and can usually manage to find one, maybe two times a week that I can get together with other people around their appointments and errands and chores and illnesses and visitors and so on. And usually it’s one other parent/child at the most.

    I try, and will keep trying, because I agree that free, unstructured play with peers is vital. But it’s not always easy to access. And so I sign my toddler up for a parent-tot yoga class, which we enjoy doing together. And I sign her up for preschool, which has some structure. And I sign her up for farm class, which has some structure, and some free play. I invite other kids to my house, ask to go to theirs, try to arrange get togethers in the park, but those organized classes are an important part of getting both of us socialized.

    I hear you thinking – that’s the problem with our society. We’re overscheduled (and in this case, I think it’s more that the parents are over-tasked, more than kids are overscheduled, but I’m in the toddler age group here). Yes, that is the problem. We don’t know and gather with our neighbors. We live in geographically spread out, very car-dependent cities. Yes, those are all problems.

    But telling me not to partake in these classes in this world that we live in reduces our socialization, reduces how many people we get to play with and meet (which may be available for free play) and how often we get to interact with people.

    Bemoan that it is necessary, but accept reality too.

  47. Violet January 3, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Children need both recess and PE in school: they are not the same thing!!!! I think it would be wonderful if yoga were taught in schools during PE, maybe one day a week, or during a segment that might last several weeks. A comprehensive physical education program should be available to every child in the country and it should include sports, yoga, exercise, and information about nutrition and health. None of that can substitute for recess. As far as the article is concerned, I pop in a yoga tape about once a week and my son always joins me — for about ten minutes! But those ten minutes are voluntary!

  48. CrazyCatLady January 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Some kids do need the focus. I am sure it helps with coordination and does lots of cross body stuff, which I know two of my kids need.

    In general though, I see no need to be signed up to do something each day of the week. When my kids were little, and I was SAHM, I did sign them up for gymnastics and swimming. But not every day. I enjoyed my time with them, and also wanted them to learn how to entertain themselves…even without friends nearby.

    As they have gotten older, I still resist the daily things that most seem to be doing. I have friends with 3 kids in scouts – in different groups. They also do cheer, and were in 4-H. The mom was complaining about it all, and yes, I agreed it was too much.

    We have the rule in our family that we only do what we can fully commit to. And that means my kids are in 4-H (all in the same club) and they are in a one day a week soccer group. The rest of the time they can play. With friends who drive over, community kids, siblings or by themselves. They have time to read to their own interests, and do crafts or hobbies if they want. Perfect in my opinion.

  49. Seoppy January 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Yoga is boring. End of story.

  50. Tana Butler January 3, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    This article s the very worst kind of sensationalism, for the worst reasons. Our grandson had a preschool teacher who taught them yoga. It was wonderful physically, if nothing else, because it heightened his natural athleticism with enhanced balance and strength. The kids LOVED it. He loved it, and could do poses that many adults would struggle with. I loved it because we could do it together. It’s good to have a quiet place within, where distractions become invisible as the body finds its place.

    I think this is a shameful disservice and propaganda, and I wish you would publish the truth instead of such a slanted, misinformed screed.

    For the record, our grandson plays Little League Baseball, loves basketball, Frisbee, and all kinds of other athletic activities (no football in his future: too rough).

    And Seoppy, I would say that yoga is not boring. People who are bored are boring. It’s what you bring to it. Alas, the fault lies within you.

  51. amy January 3, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Man, did I love Yoga for Kids back in the yoga-obsessed 70s. And I spent one hell of a lot of time leaving notes for Mr. Owl under the lilac bush in the backyard, too. Ain’t nothing wrong with yoga. I don’t do it now, of course, prefer to be stiff and not have my hips flopping all around. But yeah, I sure did dig Happy Feet and Lion Face. Maybe you need a little Eve Diskin, Lenore.

  52. AW13 January 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    I do yoga, albeit intermittently. And my son has been fascinated by it, from day 1. For awhile, there was a particular routine that was on Netflix that we did daily (usually at his behest – he really kept me to that schedule!) As a child, I was never interested in yoga, since I never knew anyone who did it, but I BEGGED to take gymnastics after watching Mary Lou Retton in the Olympics. Anyway, my point is that most kids who are curious about the world are interested in trying things out when they come across them. If your kid is exposed to yoga and they want to do something in a more structured way, that’s fine. But structured activities, no matter how great and kid-requested they are, are not the same thing as unstructured play. And there is a place for both.

  53. amy January 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Yep, dig that crazy elephant trunk:


    My daughter likes it, too.

  54. AHLondon January 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    Contrary to many of the ‘this post is anti-yoga not anti-organized activity,’ no, the post is mostly anti-organized activity but commenters seem to want to carve out an exception for yoga. Change the details and many parents would make parallel arguments about teamwork and athletic skill taught by organized sports.
    Sure kids should do some organized activities, and I’m sure some kids want to do yoga. Great. None of Lenore’s organized games posts suggest that kids should never do organized sports or classes, just that we parents should tip the scales to free play. Yoga is just one more thing that is supposed to be cool for kids to do. It is a proliferation of organized activity and one that is particularly irksome because everything it teaches, focus, stretching, creative play, following instructions–I’ve had 4 kids take Yoga at one time or another–can be learned in play not directed by adults. It is a subtle difference between kids playing animal Simon Says and an instructor telling them to let their trunks swing low and then raise up high. Both are fun. But I’d prefer mine play Simon Says with just a bunch of kids.

  55. hineata January 4, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    @Tiffany – I agree with you that it certainly can be hard to find kids to free-play with….However, when you refer to playgroups not fitting in with your daughter’s nap time, have you tried changing that? Not being sarcastic in any way, just wondering. As when my first was young, I found it didn’t take more than a week or two to adjust his ‘timing’….This might expand your opportunities somewhat.

  56. Tiffany January 4, 2013 at 2:25 am #

    @hineata – oh yes, we tried. Sleep has always been, from day one, through months of reflux/colic, to today at 2.5yrs, a challenge. And I know some kids do fine without being super structured about naps; my daughter is not one of them.

    I’m not trying to say that is an excuse to never have unstructured play – my daughter has an awful lot of it and I agree it is vital, whether it is around other kids or with just me or on her own. But if you want your kids to have unstructured play with other kids, you need to find those other kids and be able to arrange the logistics as well. Oh, I’m sure it will get easier as she gets older – school (if we don’t homeschool) levies structure and friends who live close by, naps go away, and she will have mo capabilities. But I strongly believe that free-range mindsets need to start in toddlerhood, and that presents some challenges in our culture. I’m all for changing it, but we can only do so much at a time.

  57. mollie January 4, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    Every time I pop back here to see the new comments, I giggle all over again at the illustration chosen. I *heart* Lenore!

  58. Sherri January 4, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Why restrict them at all? I have done yoga since I was in middle school – a lifelong dancer and gymnast with back problems. My kids want to do it, so I let them… and they enjoy it. I agree with a couple of people above – need both unstructured and structured time.Balance in life for both children and adults is key. And, yes, I am also a professional writer / editor and this absolutely reads as “anti-yoga” for kids. I’m wondering why such supposedly “freerange” thinking seems to add up to a lot of narrow-minded, restricted / repressed adult opinions. Try your own “freerange” approach – just let them be. Individuals have individual interests and needs. Let’s stop pigeon-holing our kids. You HAVE to play outside. You HAVE to read. You shouldn’t do yoga. Come on.

  59. LRH January 4, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Warren–as usual, you nail it. Most of the rest of you are being touchy without any reason. Frankly, you sound a lot like the political correctness crowd, the people who single out cartoons from the past & how they stereotype your race/culture and it offends you. Good freaking grief. I like my “Looney Tunes,” thank you very much, and I like this.

    Lenore practically put it on a billboard, what with how she italicized it & everything–this post is NOT anti-yoga. It is anti “scheduled” playtime totally replacing unscheduled spontaneous free play altogether. I’ve heard many a commentator including (but not limited to) Lenore speaking of children being over-scheduled with too many afterschool activities and not being allowed to just play unscheduled on the spot in the flow of life at home or at the park etc. The parents end up frazzled zipping from this place to that spot thinking that every single moment of play has to be in the schedule, if it’s not in the schedule it’s not okay.

    Heck, I’ve noticed this aspect creeping into other areas of life too. To wit: years ago it was common for us to “drop in” on close friends & family when we were “just in the neighborhood,” and people were okay with that–messy house, “I’m in the middle of cooking dinner,” etc, all of it. They didn’t object at all. Heck, if they were in the middle of EATING dinner, there wasn’t this scolding rebuff of your unannounced visit–rather, it was a warm greeting of “sit down, join us, we’d love to have you.”

    Now: you HAVE to call first, make an appointment. It has to be scheduled. Otherwise, it’s a rude intrusion of their space. It’s silly if you ask me. (I do honor their requests, I just think the old way was better.)

    Somehow I think I’m going to attract a lot of rebuttals to this part, that’s not what I’m trying to necessarily do, but rather to show that the “scheduling” of children’s playtime in recent years vs just letting it happen “in the flow of life” parallels, in my opinion, how we’ve done likewise in other areas of life.

    So all of “you people” who are pro-yoga thinking your hobby is being attacked–you’re being ridiculous. Your precious little hobby isn’t being attacked. You’re just being overly sensitive. What is being attacked is the presumption that every single minute of childhood has to fit into a scheduled itinerary, that anything that happens “in the flow of life” is not to be allowed, that it MUST be scheduled. That’s it.

    Great post. And I hope I’m not making any typos that I’m missing pressing “Submit Comment” prematurely.


  60. C. S. P. Schofield January 4, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    It seems to me that there are three levels of parental involvement in classes or organized activities for kids;

    1) The child asks about joining. The parent may then make certain conditions, such as “If you want to play in little league, you have to complete the season.”

    2) The family has a standing tradition, as with an asian family that practices a martial art, or any ethnicity that practices traditional folk-dance.

    3) The parent decides that the child should undertake the activity, but the activity is not already part of the family culture.

    I don’t think that any of these levels are flat out WRONG. I do think that there should be some degree of balance. Fo/r example; if type 2 activities are taking over the child’s whole life, I want to ask “Is the child a Crown Prince?”. And if the answer is “NO.” then I want to know why the parent driving this tradition-centered frenzy didn’t get a clone instead of a child.

    I particularly object to type 3 activities where they seem to be the parent placing the child in classes that the parent believes the parent should take, but can’t (or won’t) make time for. Seen THAT a lot.

  61. Lollipoplover January 4, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    Maybe I’m cheap, but my parenting approach to all of these activities has to include my wallet. Yoga classes and the like are expensive. I’d rather save for something they ask for and entertain them in the free outdoors. The constant need to “enrich” our children with paid activities, all in the name of addressing childhood inactivity, overlooks the obvious- free play should be free!

  62. Sally January 4, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    That’s something I was thinking about, too, Lollipoplover. You expressed it well. I’m uncomfortable with the “consumer” aspect of these classes which seems to go unnoticed and, it would appear, unchecked.

  63. Christina January 4, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    LRH – did you actually read any of the posts by us “pro-yoga” types here? A number of us do not regularly take yoga classes, nor do we have our kids in scheduled yoga classes. It is just something they’ve been introduced to (in our case at school) and we incorporate into our lives b/c our kids enjoy it. The overly sensitive person in this scenario was the author of that ridiculous article Lenore posted. You and Warren are not the only Looney Tunes loving, reality-based parents in this forum.

  64. Taradlion January 4, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    I wanted to respond to those who have commented that Yoga is beneficial for children with ADD, anxiety, and other special needs. In these cases, yoga is therapeutic. I am a pediatric speech therapist. Similarly, speech therapy is very beneficial for children with speech and language delays, but I wouldn’t suggest that ALL children would benefit from it, and I do acknowledge that making time for speech sessions(especially for children who receive multiple therapies) has an impact on free play time. The pros and cons should be weighed. Children with speech and language delays also benefit from free play. I think the point is that MOST children do not NEED yoga classes. That children have, or should have, many outlets for stress release, free play being one.

    I think a second point that others have commented on is that ANY structured class takes time. Maybe that time could be spent in free play, maybe not. Family scheduling needs, lack of other kids out in the park/yards, etc, may make scheduled activities a good choice. This also goes to the comments making the point that “any physical activity is good” – well yes, but are kids going to yoga (or little league) instead of sitting on the couch, or are they going to yoga class instead of playing outside with friends.

    There are kids who may ask for/want to attend/love yoga class. Maybe because they see their parents do it, maybe not. I don’t think the point was that those kids shouldn’t do yoga any more than other kids shouldn’t join soccer leagues, take ballet, swimming, or gymnastics. The, yoga classes should fall into the category of scheduling/over-scheduling/schedule balancing – weigh the benefits. What is scheduled time replacing?

  65. BMS January 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I think if I asked my kids if they wanted to try yoga they would look at me like I had 4 heads.

    But then, I hate yoga. To me, it’s like watching grass grow. Only exercise class I have ever dozed off in. A lot of people, young and old, love it. Good on ’em. Me, I’ll take kung fu any day. I like to alternate my hold stances with punching things. If my kids for some reason really wanted to try it, I’d set it up. But its just one of those things it would never occur to me to suggest.

  66. John January 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    I have no opinions on yoga, but I do think we ALL need to “gambol” more! And use that verb more. Gamboling off to school to get my kid now, la la la!

  67. Andy January 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    I do not care about yoga, but what is the point? Is yoga more harmful then any other structured activity and all kids dislike it? Or is any scheduled structured activity harmful now?

    I find yoga boring, but if some kid learns a bit of it or even likes it then whatever. Scheduled, organized and structured activities are not harmful unless there is too many of them or the kid hates them too much. There is nothing wrong with learning something from an expert or a teacher, not even for a kid. Things like technique are easier to learn for kids, so why not. Of course, it should not be overdone and the amount of activities should be limited.

    Plus, all kids are not the same, some naturally jump around all the time, other prefer spend all the time reading and building others and most are in between. It is quite possible that some of adult that like yoga have been kids that would like it too.

  68. baby-paramedic January 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Yoga is more than just a hobby for many. It is closer to a religion(!). There are songs(‘hymns’) in kirtan (‘service’), prayers, praises of thanks for our life etc. Although I am not an adherent, I did grow up with it (Indian parental figure). And it had a similar impact on my worldview as the influence from the Catholic parental figure.
    I suspect that may explain some of the responses.

  69. LRH January 4, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    Christina Naturally I read the postings & the original article, and it’s far more than just people incorporating yoga into their lives because their kids enjoyed it. They were very uptight, acting as if they were Catholic and someone had cussed to the Pope or something. The article wasn’t being overly sensitive about disliking yoga, the original author & Lenore, together along with some of us posters, were just saying in effect that (a) yoga isn’t a substitute for free play and that (b) gee whiz, kids are overly structured and aren’t allowed any free play because some people think only structured play is an appropriate outlet.

    Most of the other posters–touchy, touchy, touchy.

    I never said Warren and I were the only reality-based parents in this forum, but at the time, we two were just about the only ones not getting all uptight over nothing.

    baby-paramedic Exactly. Apparently this group is much like the animal lovers group–overly touchy & sensitive. I’ve met many a cat lover who, for instance, seems intolerant of the reality that some people just aren’t cat people and, say, don’t want their cats trespassing into their yard putting their paw prints all over their $50,000 freshly-waxed car or messing up their flowers. In like manner I’ve met few dog lovers that can accept that not all people feel the same & that such people don’t appreciate their dog running loose in the park & coming up to their child who’s minding their own business and jumping all over them knocking them over. Apparently yoga disciples are the same way.


  70. Donna January 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    Hmmmm, I’ve read the article twice now and if this isn’t considered anti-children’s yoga, I don’t know what would be. The AUTHOR may not in person be anti-yiga for kids but this ARTICLE comes across as extremely anti-yoga for kids.

    What ever happened to balance? I am perfectly comfortable with my child engaging in both free play and structured activities. My daughter takes ballet and and tennis and still manages to have 4 hours to play free on those days (more on days without activities). It all just seems like poo-pooing something for no reason other than it didn’t exist when you were a child.

  71. Donna January 4, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    And before someone assumes that I am pro-yoga and just protecting my hobby – I hate yoga. Boring crap as far as I’m concerned. Doesn’t stop me from thinking that this article is incrediably anti-yoga. It may, be anti-every scheduled activity as well, but yoga is the any activity mentioned and much of the complaints are exclusive to yoga so I have no idea what the author thinks of, say little league or soccer, which would not be solitary or quiet.

  72. Andy January 5, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    @LHR “Lenore practically put it on a billboard, what with how she italicized it & everything–this post is NOT anti-yoga. It is anti “scheduled” playtime totally replacing unscheduled spontaneous free play altogether.”

    In that case, I think that post writer should have written about scheduled playtime totally replacing spontaneous free play altogether. She did not.

    What she actually wrote is about yoga being incompatible with children. Some very small parts of it can be read as being against any organized activity, but I’m not sure that she wanted to say that.

    Balance is not mentioned at all.

  73. Warren January 5, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    @LRH thanks for the kind words.

    People, try to take a step back and look at this objectively. Not as someone that participates in yoga, or doesn’t.

    When it gets right down to it, a child does not NEED yoga, is a fair statement. The developing body of a child does not need to be trained, it is developing. Kids with special needs aside, kids do not need to be trained in inward thought, and meditation. They need to expand and explore.

    We all know that the blank slate a child is, does not last near long enough. As they become adults the ease at which we a willing to accept new things, ideas or facts becomes more difficult. As adults we need to look inward as to why we cannot be more open minded, and accepting. Kids are open minded, and accepting because they don’t know any different. They are not jaded by years of lies, disappointment, and failures yet.

    With that said, yoga is fine for all ages, and really beneficial to people in certain circumstances. It has benefited me at times.

    The key word is NEED. A growing, developing child does not NEED yoga. There is nothing saying that they, if they choose, cannot enjoy it.

  74. LRH January 5, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Well, as if I really needed to, I have reread the post here, & I still say that what the writer is really getting at is that children have done well for eons doing freeplay activities which have them moving around very active & that is what we should let them do. It’s not so much anti-yoga in & of itself, so much as it is that particular activity being one that’s antithetical to free, unorganized spontaneous play that’s suitable for children. She may not mention any other activity by name, but I don’t think one would be stretching things to infer the poster is against ANY type of structured activity being used as a substitute for just letting kids play & make up their own activities.

    Beyond that: if LENORE has stated the article is not anti-yoga, then to me that settles it. If 900 people in here say it is, but Lenore says it isn’t, then it isn’t, because she has said so. Period. (That works for me anyway.) The REAL point of Lenore posting this, it seems, is to further advocate for how we don’t need to schedule our kids for this & that, whatever this & that may happen to be, so much as we need to just let them have it largely on their own terms, in the flow of life. That is really what this post is getting at.

    Me: I have no problem with SOME organized activities, but not if it has me running all over the place all the time & if it means they never have this unstructured play.

    AGPteK TP10AYA Tablet

  75. pentamom January 5, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    @Warren — “The developing body of a child does not need to be trained, it is developing.”

    This is admittedly just a quibble, but I’d rather say that the developing body of a child needs to be trained, but that training will under normal circumstances come naturally through free play, with or without some structured play.

    It doesn’t need to be “trained” in the sense of a formal, structured program of training, which I assume is what you mean, but normal developmental learning is always a form of “training” in the sense of learning to use our various abilities through conscious use.

  76. Andy January 5, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    “The developing body of a child does not need to be trained, it is developing.”

    Of course that it does not need to be trained. But, if you want to be able to swim fast and far, then you need someone to teach you correct technique and training methods. If you want to be able to ski in deep snow, then you need someone to teach you both safety and skill. Similarly, kids around here enrolled in soccer practice are way better with ball, can run far longer then average kid and are better used to certain physical discomfort (it hurts and I’m tired, but I will keep running because I want to get better at this).

    You do not have to know how to swim or ski or be good with a ball in order to survive in current society. It does not matter unless you become a pro (e.g. it does not matter for almost all adults – but is also basically impossible unless you started as a kid).

    But, some people including kids enjoy getting better at activity they like and enjoy new possibilities training opens up to them. Activities that require technique (and that includes playing musical instrument, not only sports) are easier to learn while you are young. And the better you are in some sport, the easier it is to learn another one.

    Of course it is not necessary, but as long as the kid likes the practice, still has enough free time and the parent does not have to spend all the time driving him there and back, there is no harm.

  77. Warren January 5, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Okay let’s clarify this. Yoga is mind and body training. That is the type of training I was refering to. Just as I would not allow my kids to do weight training at a young age. Their bodies need to develope first.

    As a coach, and an athlete, I know my limitations. And yes pride still makes me exceed them, only to have to pop Advil, and ice my joints the next three or four days.

    Young children do not know their limitations, that is one of the great things about being a kid. On the other hand, damage can be done during simple exercises.
    In free play, with no expectations of success, or trying to live up to the instructors goals, or parental expectations, a child is more likely to find their limitations before injury occurs.

  78. Donna January 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    @Warren – I completely disagree about a child finding their own limitations during free play. My child is FAR FAR FAR more likely to be injured during free play than any structured activity that she has ever been enrolled in. Peer pressure being what it is, she is far more likely to injure herself by pushing herself to keep up with her peers than an instructor is likely to push her to injury. In fact, excepting the two toes broken in martial arts during sparring (and even that is closer to free play than structured class), every major injury I’ve ever suffered was done outside of any of the classes or sports that I was enrolled as a child. Every strain, sprain or break came while playing or doing something mundane like walking through the living room.

    That doesn’t mean that I think that she shouldn’t engage in free play. It just means that injuries will occur during free play.

    As for NEED, kids actually NEED nothing other than food and shelter from the elements. Everything else is a luxury. Many kids survive – and have since the dawn of man – with no free play or structured classes. Those things certainly make life more enjoyable, but are not a necessity of life.

    I live in a place where there are very few structured activities for kids (really only football and church activities). Kids engage in nothing but free play if playing (much is expected of them by way if chores). Everything is very free range. The kids here do not grow up more intelligent or physically capable than in the US. In fact, they are bored and fat. More than 50% of the child population in Am. Samoa is obese and there is a large alcohol and teen pregnancy/VD problem because to quote a young Samoan friend of mine “there is nothing to do but drink and have sex.” In a world full of nature and oceans where they are surrounded by friends and family to play with constantly and free to roam, the kids are bored to tears.

    And no activity is good for kids to be forced into. Kids should be allowed to be who they want to be and not be forced to suffer through their parents reliving their childhood through them. Nobody is saying that forcing kids to engage in yoga is a good thing. Most are saying that there is no problem with kids engaging in yoga if they choose. And many do. Whether generated from friends, TV, watching mom or dad do it or whatever, they genuinely want to try it themselves. And I have yet to read a single legitimate reason, other than finances or scheduling issues, any time this subject comes up to withhold classes from a child who genuinely wants to participate.

  79. Donna January 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Before the comments start – no I am not against free play in favor of structured activities. Many individual children I know need more free play. They are either too overscheduled or spend long hours in structured activities due to parental work schedules and need downtime. Many individual children I know need more structured activities. Sometimes it is a reflection of the culture. Some kids don’t live near other kids and need outlets for socializing that come through structured activities. Some kids just need more motivation to get up and moving as they tend toward sedentary.

    Free play is simply not the answer to perfect childhoods, our education system, obesity and all the other things we want to attribute to it. I live in a culture where it is all kids engage in and there are still major problems due to the culture, the availability of healthy food, isolated location, parenting, etc.

    I think some here overthink parenting as much as helicopter parents; they simply come to opposite conclusions. There is no magic bullet. There is no set blue print you should follow. Kids flourish in many different environments. Extremes are the problem.

    Yoga is not a problem. Yoga or non-yoga is not going to matter in the long run. Nor is little league, soccer, scouts, gymnastics, dance or whatever. Overscheduled parents and kids are a problem. Forcing kids into activities they don’t want to participate in is a problem. Parents and kids being so busy that they never have downtime is a problem. Tying this trend to any one activity is idiotic. I’d rather the argument stick to the real problems than to veer off into territory that makes it seem like one activity – or all structured activity – is the problem.

    As much as we like to say otherwise, the world is very different from when we were kids. It is not more dangerous, but there are different options available and options available when we were kids no longer exist in many places. We can’t recreate a 50s, 60s 70s, 80s childhood for our children.

  80. Katie January 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Nothing wrong with a kid doing yoga who enjoys it. What is wrong is forcing it or any other activity on your kid as activities are hobbies not some future advocation or way to live through your kid.

  81. hineata January 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    @Donna – interesting points, but I really want to ask about the obesity thing in Am. Samoa. Are they actually obese, or is it just that Samoans are a heck of a lot bigger?

    We had problems when I worked in a predominantly Pacifica school over the stupid BMI index, with some of our kids being considered obese when they were only solid. At the same time there was over a number of Samoan girl teens around the country who were making themselves anorexic for the same reason – i.e. they were following the BM, which appears to have been developed for Pakehas. At the time it was shown that a Pakeha teen and an Island teen who appear pretty much of the same body shape and height will have several kilos difference between their weights, Islanders generally having a lot greater muscle mass and heavier bones for the shape than Pakehas.

    Of course, that was nearly twenty years ago, so probably there is more real obesity now, but how are they measuring it?

  82. Warren January 5, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    I was only referring to activities such as yoga, weight lifting and any other stretching and strengthening activities.

    When we coached competitive swimming, strength training was limited to those post puberty. Our head coach, a pro with decades of experience always said that pre puberty children were developing their muscles while growing. Post puberty were old enough to regulate themselves, and their muscles reponded better to strength training. He told us that the younger kids trying to do strength training is just forcing their muscles to grow faster than nature intended.

  83. Andy January 6, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    @Warren We had the same limitations on weight lifting and strengthening activities when young (other then those done with your own body).

    We have been told that the benefit of these activities before puberty is small and short term while injuries can have long term consequences. We have also been told that we will not grow up and remain small if we lift weights, but I believe that this one was a myth :).

  84. Dr. Kwame M. Brown January 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Warren, it depends a lot on what you call “strength training”. Climbing up a hill is strength training. Rolling a weighted ball back and forth is strength training.

    You say you reserved strength training for post puberty, but you seem to (from your words) fine with “competitive” swimming pre puberty before strokes mechanics are fully developed.

    At best (I say this with a Ph.D in neural development, not as a casual observer), this is a contradictory view.

    Contact me, and I can help you develop a bit more nuanced view on this. Up to you, just putting it out there.

  85. Manisha January 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    I enrolled my 2 1/2 year old in a yoga class, after three classes we dropped out. My previous experience with infant yoga was fantastic but I realize now that it was for the Mamas in the class to experience baby bonding in a different way. The toddler class was much different. My toddler wanted to run around and this was discouraged. She was seen as disruptive. I left feeling like structured classes were not right for her and it made me very anxious about her energy level. Now I feel like she should not have been discouraged from expressing her excitement (and her energy level is perfectly normal for a kid her age). We do yoga at home, at her pace and often now, she is the one who starts the poses, her father and I join in her chosen activity.

    I felt like this article addressed the structured nature of classes, not yoga itself. But then I was reading from the perspective of toddler yoga class dropout.

  86. Puzzled January 6, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    The responses mean you’re pushing the envelope further in the direction of ‘free-range’ than some are comfortable with. That’s good – you’re moving beyond the inhibitory factors and getting into deeper philosophical territory. You don’t want an echo-chamber, you want to continue to push people further, so it’s good that there’s pushback.

  87. Warren January 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm #


    I respect and welcome your input. Although there is a great difference between lifting weights to increase strength and endurance, and competitive swimming. When a child hits the age of around 8 or 9, they are fully capable of learning the basics of most strokes. It is not until they hit around 12 that we started to perfect their strokes, and work on endurance, by introducing resistance training. Around 14 they would start on a weight regime, if they wanted to.
    These ages were only guidelines, as each swimmer is evaluated on their on merits, abilities, and desires.

  88. Tim January 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    @Warren – “When it gets right down to it, a child does not NEED yoga.”

    You’re absolutely right. But, who said they did? That’s a strawman that implies someone said children need yoga to be healthy and well adjusted. The only person I know in this thread who said that was the author of the article, just so she could knock it down. Everyone else here who’s commented has said it’s simply a fun activity.

    Children don’t NEED ballet, or little league baseball, or gymnastics, or swimming lessons, or karate. But I see one of my jobs as a parent is to expose my children to other activities that I think would be fun for the child, which the child might not necessarily think up on their own during free play. She’s in preschool, she spends most of her waking hours doing some form of free play; she can spare an hour a week to do an activity I think she’d enjoy. Not one parent here has said their child must take yoga or they feel they’re an utter failure as a parent. So no, no one at all has said a child NEEDS yoga. Except the original author.

    That she railed completely against yoga and not baseball or karate is what got people upset and saying she’s anti-yoga. She may very well be anti-any organized activity for all I know; Lenore said this was written in response to an article about kiddie yoga, so the article was focused on that. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt in that regard, and say she’s not only anti-yoga, she’s anti-anything that keeps kids from inventing their own activities.

    But if this were an anti-karate article, saying it’s “a mad idea, an example of an adult activity foisted on kids,” then a different group of readers would be upset. If this was an anti-baseball article, yet another group would be upset. Do you think any of those parents think kids should be doing ONLY karate or baseball, to the exclusion of anything else? Well, maybe; those are at least competitive sports, and parents get touchy about those.

    But yoga? We sign our kids up for yoga because we think they’d like it. I’m not misunderstanding the needs of my children, or shielding them from the real world, and I wouldn’t rather see my kids sit quietly in a gym than run with other kids in a playground or park. To be told off and have my motives questioned by a random author for doing so was irksome.

  89. Warren January 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    This is why one should take a step back, take a deep breath and read these articles objectively.

    Yoga was the example of the ever expanding marketing of adult activities to children. More and more ways to organize, control and schedule a child’s life.

  90. Andy January 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    @Tim “But if this were an anti-karate article, saying it’s “a mad idea, an example of an adult activity foisted on kids,” then a different group of readers would be upset. If this was an anti-baseball article, yet another group would be upset. ”

    Those groups overlap, I would be more upset if she would single out karate or baseball then I’m with yoga. I do not care about yoga – I never liked it.

    I’m not sure whether she has issue with any amount of any organized activity or with yoga only, but I found the strawman annoying. If she meant that any organized activity in any amount is bad for kids, then her arguments are even weaker. I happen to disagree, so I guess that I reacted more on this interpretation then on yoga is bad interpretation.

    If she merely rallied against adults controlling every single moment of kids lives as some say, I just do not see that written in the post. Only in italics which have been written by another author.

  91. Virginia January 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    I’m sorry, but this post is simply ridiculous. Organized yoga for kids is like ay other organized activity for kids — it can be great, it can be fun, it can be awful, or it can simply be a waste of time. You can legitimately argue that many kids today are overscheduled. But I think it’s pretty silly to argue that yoga is somehow a worse use of kids’ time than ballet, gymnastics, karate, or soccer.

  92. KB January 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    I am in general a big supporter of this website, and was quite surprised to find this anti-yoga post here. I am glad to see from skimming the comments that most like-minded parents agree there is no inherent incompatibility with children and yoga. Overscheduling kids is a problem, but that doesn’t mean that individual activities don’t have merit.

    My 10 yo daughter was indeed under a lot of stress recently (yes, life can be stressful even for a 10 yr old). While we certainly made addressing the source of the stress a priority, I also introduced her to different yoga and relaxation techniques at home (didn’t take away from free time with friends!). She really took to it and definitely benefitted from the mind-control aspect of it. But by far her favorite part was the poses that she could do SO much better than her parents. Although her immediate crisis has passed, she is still trying to train me so I can do lotus position. And she has new tools in her arsenal for when other stressful events occur – tools that many of our kids can benefit from.

  93. Warren January 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    No Virginia it is not compared to other organized activities. But it is worse, or should we say not nearly as good for a child as free play.

  94. Debbie January 10, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    I am an experienced preschool teacher (25 yrs.) and have recently added a few yoga stretches into our group circle time. Our yoga consists of 3 poses and lasts about 1 minute. Circle time also has songs, finger plays, rhythmic movement, topic of discussion and stories. The response of the children to a small dose of stretching is quite calming. It helps even the wiggliest child attend during story time.


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