Why Do We Color in Yoga Class?
If your child has taken a before or after-school yoga class with Shining Kids Yoga you may have noticed them coming home with coloring pages. You may wonder why kids are coloring in a class that’s supposed to be about stretching and moving your body, but actually, coloring is a yogic practice, too!
Many of the designs we color in yoga class are mandalas, a sanskrit word, that means “a symbol representing the effort to reunify the self”. According to the site, 100mandalas.com, mandalas are “circular designs that have repeating colors, shapes, and patterns radiating from the center. Mandalas can be precise, carefully measured, geometric, and perfectly symmetrical, or in contrast, free flowing, organic, and asymmetrical. Mandalas are often drawn in circles but they can also be drawn in squares.“ Mandala coloring is a form of meditation because it is a practice that helps to focus and quiet the mind.
Coloring mandalas is an activity that children as well as adults can enjoy (you may be familiar with the recent adult coloring books craze). The practice of mindful coloring has many benefits, including:
concentration - when coloring a mandala, children focus their attention to color within small spaces
fine motor skills - using colored pencils or crayons requires dexterity and strength in fingers and hands, as well as coordination between the eyes, brain, and hands.
relaxation/stress relief - coloring mandalas has been prescribed by doctors, psychologists, and other health professionals for decades as a way of relieving stress and helping people feel more calm. It is actually a form of meditation.
decreases anxiety and negative thought patterns - Dr. Nikki Martinez reports that “Doing therapeutic artwork can help reduce feelings of anxiety and unpleasantness associated with lengthy medical treatments. The focus we place on the project at hand, and on an object can replace negative and unhelpful thoughts from entering our minds. The step of acting and doing vs. observing is a powerful deterrent to focusing on physical or emotional pain. “
After a long day at school, starting yoga class with mindful coloring is a simple way to help children to change gears, relax their minds and bodies, and create a bridge to the other yoga & mindfulness activities we practice in class.
Coloring and creating mandalas isn’t just for yoga class - it is a calming and meditative activity that you can also do at home with your child!
There are many sites that offer free, printable mandalas for you to use. Or if you and your child are feeling adventurous, you can make your own mandala drawings by following the instructions in this tutorial from Thayneeya McArdle of art-is-fun.com: How to Draw A Mandala.
Here is the result of one of the mandalas my 10 year-old-son, Quinn, and I created by following the tutorial above
Coloring helps children to get out of their thinking minds, and into the creative, focused, and relaxed place inside of them. So the next time your child brings a coloring page home after yoga, you will know that they have spent class developing their concentration, creativity, and fine motor skills - a truly yogic activity!
Andrea Creel, MSW, LMSW, E-RYT 200, YACEP
Andrea is the founder of Shining Kids Yoga, which began as an after-school program at her son's elementary school in 2014. She has been teaching yoga to all ages since 2005. Andrea completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training & prenatal yoga training at Tranquil Space Yoga in Washington, D.C. In addition, she received specialized training in children’s yoga from the Radiant Child Yoga program, training in postnatal yoga from Baby OM, and training in therapeutic yoga from The Samarya Center.
Andrea is also a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) through the State of Maryland, having received her MSW degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore.
She has taught yoga for children at yoga studios throughout the DC area, including Tranquil Space, Budding Yogis, Rock Creek Yoga and Warrior One Yoga. She also teaches classes for adults at Yoga Bliss Studios and is part of the teacher training faculty at Extend Yoga.
When not teaching or practicing yoga, Andrea enjoys playing board games with her son, Quinn, singing karaoke, and trying out new vegetarian recipes!