“Are you excited for school to start?” everyone from the grocery store checker to my son’s dentist would ask him in the last days of summer. His typical 3rd grader reply was a dull, drawn-out “Noooooo.” Sound familiar? Returning to school can be both exciting and anxiety-ridden.
Let’s take a look at a child’s typical day of stressors. Beyond the common school fears such as schoolwork, social issues, extracurricular pressures, and teacher expectations, there are modern day concerns including extreme bullying, economic divergence based on technology, and tragic violence.
We all know that some stress can be positive in that it provides the energy to tackle a big test, for example. However, too much stress can create unnecessary hardship and challenge. The American Psychological Association notes that kids sometimes react with socially unacceptable behavior (you know it, you’ve seen it) because they may find it difficult to recognize and verbalize when they are experiencing stress.
Yoga can help. Just as it helps chill out adults who seek refuge on the mat, it can help bring peace to children. I love seeing the difference in a class before we begin and afterwards. The stressful transition of going back to school dissolves and we create time to listen and understand these emotions that are rumbling inside.
And it’s not just my imagination … it’s proven. A study between a school and Harvard University researchers compared students assigned to take yoga class two to three times a week with students who took standard PE classes. The findings, published last spring in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, showed that over the course of the 10-week study, students in the yoga classes had fewer negative moods and less tension and anxiety than students in standard PE.
I often hear from parents that they wish they were exposed to yoga earlier. I couldn’t agree more! There are so many life lessons that would have helped this wee-little worrier in 3rd grade as I fretted over the next multiplication quiz. Starting kids off early with yoga helps them develop skills to manage stress, relax, and improve concentration and self-esteem. Other benefits of yoga include increasing attention span and focus, building kindness and respect for themselves and others, and developing self-control and positive self-talk. And who doesn’t need that? Imagine a classroom full of children taught these skills and how it would positively influence their lives.
Bring a little yoga home and help your student shed the stress of the day. Take a moment to breath deeply, reflect on the good deeds done that day. If your interested on other ways to incorporate yoga further into your child’s life, please consider joining us in an upcoming workshop. Our next two workshops are:
– 2-Hour Workshop in Lake Oswego on September 21 from 1pm to 3 pm: “Introduction to Imagination Yoga for the Special Needs Child”
– 2-Hour Workshop in Eugene on October 5 from 2pm to 4pm: “Inspiring Kids to Move”