Be aware of your discomfort level

In yoga with weights, you make a distinction between comfortable discomfort and uncomfortable discomfort. Feeling comfortable discomfort, such as the uneasiness that accompanies breaking new ground in yoga with weights (or any other exercise technique), is fine. If you feel uncomfortable discomfort, however, you're straining yourself. Abandon the exercise you're doing and ask yourself whether you're doing the exercise correctly or pushing yourself too far.

Can children study yoga with weights?

Some parents are concerned that working with weights can stunt children's growth. This concern isn't unwarranted. Lifting heavy weights without using the proper technique can put too much stress on the growth plate — the area of growing tissue at the end of long bones — and retard bone growth. If your children lift weights, make sure that they use the proper technique and start with light weights before moving on to heavy ones.

Bone growth, however, isn't an issue for children who practice yoga with weights. The 1-, 3-, or 5-pound weights are light and shouldn't damage growth plates in a child's bones. But if in doubt, have children do the exercises without weights or use the lightest weights. Give your children a lightweight wooden dowel or other item to help them figure out the exercises. They can still get a wonderful workout without the weights.

Getting children to practice yoga with weights isn't easy. Staying in one place is hard for them, and focusing on breathing isn't something they're accustomed to. Children prefer fast-moving aerobic exercises to quiet, contemplative, inward-looking exercise techniques. Still, we encourage parents to get their children to try yoga with weights by making it fun, playful, and not too serious. Besides the physical benefits of discovering balance and coordination, children discover how to direct their minds and concentrate better. Kids who practice yoga with weights often do better in school. They know how to focus and concentrate on the activity before them.

To encourage children to practice yoga with weights, keep the workouts to 30 minutes or less. Try to make a game of the exercises. Children always exercise better in groups, and if you can get a group of kids to study yoga with weights, so much the better. We hope that the addition of weights to the yoga practice will make yoga more attractive to children.

The following photograph shows a young Sherri Baptiste working out with her parents, Walter and Magaña. As you can see, Sherri is lifting a weight. Weightlifting didn't stunt her growth, and she's now considerably taller than she is in this photograph.

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