20 Aug How yoga benefits children’s mental health and physical wellbeing
Over the past decade we have seen a massive increase in the number of nurseries, primary and secondary schools offering yoga. Not only as an after-school club activity, but as an important part of the school the curriculum. More and more people are seeing first hand how yoga benefits children. Mental health professionals, medical doctors, neurologists, teachers and even the Government is beginning to recognise how yoga benefits children’s mental health and physical wellbeing.
Yoga and mindfulness provides so many benefits including supporting learning, healing, stress release and everyday life. The practice of yoga has been explored for thousands of years. The benefits to body and mind, that have been noticed and recorded, are vast. When sharing children’s yoga, we focus not only on the asana/postures but also on bringing other elements of the 8-fold path into our sessions. Mental and physical wellbeing is carefully nurtured. This is achieved through noticing and controlling the breath; moving and resting the body; and developing an awareness of the mind’s chitter chatter through meditation and mindful practices.
Supporting children’s physical wellbeing
The movements practiced in a yoga class (called poses or asanas) are much more than just stretching. They open the energy channels throughout the body, increasing flexibility of the spine, strengthening bones and stimulating the circulatory and immune systems. Along with proper breathing, these poses or asanas also calm the mind and reduce stress.
A regular yoga practice helps with overall physical and mental health. Therefore contributing to the possible prevention of diseases such as diabetes, acute anxiety, low bone density, asthma and obesity. All problems that pose an increasing threat to the development of our children today. Performing the poses slowly and with mindful control also acts as a mental exercise in concentration and meditation.
Breathing, emotional development and awareness
Yogic breathing increases lung capacity, as well as strengthening and toning the entire respiratory and nervous systems. Deepening the breath brings more oxygen to the body through the blood stream. We may take it for granted, but breathing is one of the most important foundations of our wellbeing. If you can teach a child to be aware of their breath they will ultimately become more in control of their emotions and overall wellbeing. These are everyday tools for calming and energising the child to help develop a state of relaxed awareness, which is crucial for learning.
Mindfulness and mental health
Mindfulness helps children develop healthy responses to the chaotic world around them. It also helps them deal with their own emotional responses to the world. The idea is to encourage children to use these techniques whenever they need to find calm, refocus their energy, and concentrate on specific tasks. Mindfulness has been seen to decrease stress and attention deficit issues, depression, anxiety, and even hostility in children. Research over the past few decades has shown that mindfulness training also develops social-emotional awareness, memory and learning, body awareness and coordination, and interpersonal skills.
Skills for life
By taking part in yoga classes, children develop important inter and intrapersonal skills. A regular yoga practice offers effective help for learning disorders, hyperactivity, stress and lack of exercise.
Yoga also increases self-confidence and most importantly …. its great FUN!!
It’s easy to see why more and more schools are embracing the need for yoga in their classrooms. Children who learn yoga at an early age have a healthy head start in life. This is especially important in our fast-paced and stressful world. Through bringing increased awareness to the external environment and to the internal experience of the body and the mind, children will benefit psychologically and emotionally. Children can easily learn these techniques, and when learned young, they become lifelong tools.
If you would like to bring yoga into your school or train as a teacher to share these myriad benefits with our younger generation then take a look at our range of courses suitable for parents, nursery and school leaders as well as regular yogis.
How yoga benefits children
- Improves posture, flexibility, strength, balance, coordination and motor skills
- Helps children recognise and honour all emotions, learning to trust their instincts
- Teaches breathing techniques that increase energy and decrease anxiety providing effective coping strategies for stress
- Increases body awareness as we explore our anatomy and benefits of the poses
- Teaches relaxation and stress management techniques for school and home
- Nurtures self-esteem, confidence and acceptance
- Offers a platform for creativity and imagination
- Builds a foundation for lifelong well-being
- It’s non-competitive and honours each child’s unique way of absorbing and integrating information
- Provides techniques to quiet the mind and sharpen focus and concentration
- Endorses healthy choices and lifestyle
- Balances and coordinate the brain
- Encourages positive thinking and a motivation to learn
- Improves grades and reading skills
- Aids better sleep
- Promotes a sense of peace, within and without
- Allows for playfulness and collaboration in the learning process
- Allows children to learn to respect themselves, others and the world around them; encouraging the acceptance of differences
- Trains the sense of balance and as a result boost overall health and physical fitness