I've been thinking a lot about how balance boards are important and incorporated into yoga. I teach a few yoga classes a week, and in all of my classes, I include balance boards. I don't have enough for all of the children, but I always bring a few to share. The kids love them and always race to the boards when they see them. Sometimes they jump on and pretend to be surfing on the boards. Their imaginations go wild. Other times, they take off their shoes, lie down on the board, and get comfy. Overall, they love to move and rock from side to side on the board, like people do on a rocking chair. It's soothing. It's therapeutic. "It's fun!" they say.
I've noticed that all the yoga poses that we do can be done on the board. I thought at first that the kids wouldn't want to "jump like a frog" or wouldn't like sitting down on the board, as it's hard...but they do. They love it. And when I ask them if they prefer a yoga mat or balance board, they inevitably excitedly say: "balance board!" At first I thought it was just because it was a novelty item and that the novelty would wear away. But it hasn't, and if anything, the children are thrilled to show me a new pose that they can do on the board, or a pose that they couldn't do before and now they can. They have the biggest grins on their faces and feel so proud of their accomplishments. "Look at me and what I can do now!"
Balance boards help in a number of ways. For one, it's a great workout for the body. Even when the children are rocking side to side, they are working out their core muscles. Secondly, it helps increase their balance and focus. It's more challenging to do the yoga poses on the balance boards, because of the instability of the board. Without realizing it, the children have to concentrate more on balancing. It's a mind and body workout. Lastly, and most importantly...the boards are entertaining and have a "cool" factor. Isn't that what all kids want?