Yoga is increasingly popular among adults, but many people may not realize that kids can benefit from this physical and spiritual journey, too. In fact, there are several reasons why yoga for kids is so advantageous.
Here are just a few to keep in mind:
1. Improves Concentration
Kids have always been prone to short attention spans, but the prevalence of smartphones and oversaturation of other distracting technologies present even more challenges to today's generation. A major component of yoga is concentration; it’s required if you want to hold certain poses and learn to meditate. As a result, yoga can help teach adolescents the importance of concentration, and what they can accomplish if they simply open their minds and focus on one thing at a time.
2. Develops Awareness
One of the purposes of yoga is enlightenment and increased self-awareness: physical, emotional and spiritual. Yoga teaches people to be aware of their surroundings. Such higher degrees of consciousness give you greater mental clarity, a better perspective, and increased awareness of not just your environment, but your inner self, too.
3. Builds Strength
Yoga helps increase muscle strength through various positions, such as the bridge, chair, boat and warrior poses. Strength building positively impacts metabolism and could also improve a child’s performance in other physical activities, such as soccer, gymnastics, or of course, climbing trees.
4. Boosts Breathing Capabilities
Deep breathing is a required technique of yoga. In addition to helping achieve specific poses, breathing exercises can reduce anxiety in both adults and children, since it calms the mind, which helps decrease stress levels.
As explained in an article by the Anxiety-Free Child Program: “Yoga can very quickly alleviate the feelings of anxiety and stress in the mind, which gives the body the signal to slow down all the physiological arousals. That means the calmed-down mind translates to a calmed-down breathing pattern, a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure.”
5. Enhances Coordination and Balance
Practicing yoga could also help kids enhance their coordination and balance abilities, due to its increased strength and breathing benefits. Yoga also teaches children about stabilizing their joints—from their ankles and knees to their shoulders and arms. Additionally, kids learn about setting goals. Improving coordination is a challenge at any age, and a process that requires time, effort and patience. Dedication to achieving a goal and not getting discouraged if you fail the first few times is important for kids to understand, too.
6. Encourages Mental Health
Yoga decreases stress and promotes relaxation, and its positive effects improving focus and perspective can also assist children socially and academically.
According to a 2009 study by the International Journal of Yoga, which involved 800 adolescent participants experiencing both high and low stress levels, those who practiced yoga did better in school, specifically in math, science and social studies. It also found that “low-stress students performed better than high-stress students, meaning thereby that stress affects the students’ performance.”
In holistic pediatrics, parents and caregivers are encouraged to address children's complete wellness, taking into consideration the health of their bodies, minds and souls. Yoga for kids helps achieve this.