The idea of children doing yoga may seem strange to some people but scientific research has shown that yoga, meditation and mindfulness can really help youngsters to perform better academically, improve social behaviour and increase their ability to deal with emotional issues.
With the rise of social media, especially during Covid-19 today’s children are faced with incredible pressures – the like of which we’ve never seen before. Now, not only are they expected to perform well at school, they’re also expected to look perfect and have as many “friends” as possible.
This has led to a well-documented rise in depression amongst young people as well as huge problems around body image and social standing.
Yoga and meditation address these issues. They promote self-awareness and teach children how to process and manage their emotions.
Yoga can help increase self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. As an exercise, yoga improves strength, endurance, balance and even aerobic capacity (not just for children).
With obesity levels on the rise, yoga is a great way of getting children moving as, unlike most sports, it’s non-competitive. It emphasises what a child can do rather what they can’t do and doesn’t focus on the child’s shape or size.
Becoming aware of how the breath affects the body and mind can also be hugely beneficial to a child’s mental health and wellbeing. Once they learn how to control their breath they will able to use this skill in everyday life. It will help them regulate unwanted negative emotions and increase their ability to self-manage during stressful situations.
Studies also suggest that yoga can help children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by calming them, helping them to focus and improving memory function.
Children can start at any age by joining classes specially designed for adults and their baby. Then move onto parent and toddler classes. It can also be beneficial for parents to practice yoga at home with their child as everyone will benefit from the fun and interactive time spent together. A lot of studios offer classes for different age groups including Yoga for teens. Here at Tring Yoga Studio alongside our usual children’s classes for 5 to 11 year olds we specialize in Aerial Yoga and offer “kids aerial parties” from the age of 5 upwards (not restricted to children) where the children can explore and engage their curiosity and creativity. It is wonderful to see some children start the class shy and nervous and leave having grown in confidence. In recent years, some schools in America have replaced detention for unruly kids with yoga and meditation and the results have been amazing. The number of children being suspended from school has dropped to zero, behaviour and concentration in class has improved and exam results have improved.
No special equipment is needed to practice as children use the same size mat etc. as adults and if no mat is available then a towel laid out on the floor works almost as well.
I truly believe that if all schools began to teach yoga, meditation and mindfulness, then not only would we see our children leaving school more confident and compassionate, but the world would also have the potential to be a kinder and calmer place.