We’re stretching our children in more ways than one to improve their health as yoga for children hits Scottish schools, nurseries and health clubs.

Babies and children are being encouraged to start yoga because teachers believe it not only improves physical health but also co-ordination, concentration and well-being.

In Perth, parents can also take children with special needs to learn the Yoga for the Special Child method.

And as yoga is finding its way into a new age bracket, a group called YogaBugs wants to take the practice into schools.

Annamaria Sacco, of the Yoga Stable, in Edinburgh, teaches yoga to babies and children of all ages and says: “I think it’s a great idea to have yoga taught in schools. And because children are at school, in the presence of teachers, they will take the yoga more seriously. Yoga has great benefits not only to physical health but also to levels of concentration.

“In our classes, we like to make yoga fun and that’s very important when teaching children. We want to make them love yoga and so we make a game of it.

“It improves strength, co-ordination, concentration, balance and flexibility. It has so many benefits and it is wonderful to see less confident children become more daring. I would imagine that this is what YogaBugs is trying to do by going into the schools.”

YogaBugs will be running teacher training courses in Edinburgh next month for yoga teachers and experienced practitioners.

Fiona Chalmers, who teaches YogaBugs in Edinburgh, says the classes do more than just keep the children fit and flexible:  “It really helps them improve their concentration and build their confidence.  It also helps them to develop their imaginations.  I’ve seen evidence of that in my classes.  Sometimes it’s totally chaotic, but it’s always such good fun, both for me and the children.”

Mother-of-two Zoi Chisholm teaches yoga for babies and children with special needs using the Yoga for the Special Child method in Perth.

“The yoga for babies is an extension of baby massage, solidifying further the bond between mother and baby. It does a lot to calm the mother and create a sense of well-being for both,” Zoi says.

Zoi, who has an autistic child, says: “Yoga for the Special Child is a select combination of traditional yoga techniques designed to promote the overall development of children.   The style of yoga is gentle and safe for infants and children of all ages.

“The child’s therapy will consist of sound and music therapy, specific breath cleansing and eye strengthening exercises, developing full diaphragmatic breathing, sequence of yoga postures and relaxation with soothing music and colour therapy.

“We find this promotes better body awareness, improvement of muscle tone and strength, better breathing and therefore increased oxygenation of the brain and muscles, social and emotional development through one-to-one and group therapy, increased attention span and reduction in hyperactivity.”

And what about for mothers who’ve just had a baby? Angie Hillyer, who teaches Hatha yoga in Perth, believes yoga is perfect for post-natal women.

“I love teaching post-natal women; it’s such a gentle exercise and great for women who are getting back to some fitness and who also want to get their figures back,” she says.

“It is possible to practise yoga with your baby attached, say in a sling, and while it makes some poses challenging; it is not impossible.”

For further information on YogaBugs; 020 8772 1800 or email: info@yogabugs.com