5 Ways Yoga Benefits your Child
We hear it in the news and all over social media that children in schools should be doing yoga.... but why?
I hope this blog can shed a little light on this subject and maybe inspire you to introduce yoga to your child.
Yoga has many physical benefits for your child. Just like adults, children need to develop their balance and co-ordination. Yoga is great for this because many of the poses that we do require both balance and co-ordination. For example, one of the children's favourite poses the Downward Dog requires the children to spread their weight evenly between their hands and their feet, in order to balance effectively. Co-ordination is required to get into the pose from being in the 'table top' position to curling toes under and lifting their bottom up to the sky. It also increases strength and flexibility by stretching the muscles and increasing blood flow.
Central Nervous System
The central nervous system is responsible for carrying messages to and from the brain and controls our movement, thoughts, emotions as well as our heart rate, body temperature and much more. Yoga has a positive effect on the nervous system. By focusing on the breath, it calms the central nervous system which in turn slows the heart rate down. It depends on the child's age as to how we focus on the breath in our sessions. With our pre-schoolers, a game of blowing leaves, bubbles or coloured scarves is the perfect way of having fun with the breath and still having the brilliant effects. With older children, we can use the breath in a different way by using all our senses, such as feeling the breath on our hands. When children have mastered the art of controlling their breath in the yoga classes they can then use it in every day life whenever they become stressed or anxious.
Yoga can increase a child's concentration. Several studies have found that because children are asked to focus on a particular pose and focus in order to balance, their minds become clearer and this carries over to the classroom.
You may have heard the term 'mindfulness'. It is an activity that requires you to 'be in the moment'. Yoga is an excellent mindful activity. This is especially important with the busy lives that children have in school and extra curricular activities. Mindfulness can manage stress and help children regulate their emotions, aiding emotional stability as they grow. By using the whole body and thinking about our breath in each pose, children finish yoga feeling aligned, calm and happy. A school in Baltimore recently replaced detention with meditation, providing a room set up for mindfulness, yoga and breathing exercises to calm children. Since this big change they have seen changes in behaviour, better self-regulation and amazingly, zero suspensions.
As a kids yoga teacher and as a parent I have witnessed how yoga has boosted a child's confidence. The sense of achievement that a child experiences after a yoga session is wonderful. They glow with pride as they are able to accomplish yoga poses after practice, even if it is as simple as touching their toes. I provide constant encouragement and praise during a yoga session and this is incredibly important during a class. As yoga is non-competitive and there are no winners or losers it is purely at the child's own pace.
Yoga is an activity that supports a child's well-being in it's most holistic sense. It is invaluable activity for a child, aiding both their physical and mental development.