There is a lot of proof lately showing the benefits of yoga for kids. Some are obvious like learning how to stretch and move. However, there are other benefits that are not as widely known. These can benefit kids all year long, but are particularly useful during the Back to School transition.
There are many wonderful ways to inspire movement. From youth soccer to football, track to gymnastics; kid’s yoga is a unique platform like no other sport. Yoga for children, not only inspires movement, but gives opportunity to practice calm, kindness, mindfulness, and more. Yoga offers students the physical and cognitive benefits of movement through intentional activity.
With a weekly yoga practice, kids will begin to learn some of these critical life skills over time that will make the back to school transition easier and the school year more peaceful. Here are 10 yoga benefits for kids that align perfectly with back to school timing:
• Ability to Self-Soothe: Back to School is a change in the routine with new classmates, teachers, maybe even a new school. Expectations are escalated by the adults in the student’s life compared to the lazy days of summer. Yoga provides a little peace in their day during this hectic time and teaches them how to self-soothe through calming techniques.
• Stillness: Our kids’ days are packed with activities. Add to that the additional stimulation of electronic devices and you have a new generation that doesn’t know how to disconnect and just be. Gone are the days of skipping rocks on the lake or making mud pies in the dirt. Back to school is busy. Yoga teaches a child how to turn down the noise if just for a moment.
• Deep Breathing: Simply learning when and how to take a meaningful deep breath can be invaluable to a child today. Breathing is a life long tool for managing stress and cultivating inner peace. If learned early, the child can tap into this tool all the days of his/her life.
• Mental Clarity: Concentration and focus are paramount in yoga. “The Importance of Focus” (10/23/13) reported that kids learn best when they can maintain sustained attention. The more youngsters can practice keeping their focus and resisting distraction, the stronger and more richly connected their ability to focus will become. Like a muscle, use attention poorly and it withers; work it in the right way and it strengthens.
• Patience: What child doesn’t need a little extra dose of patience? Yoga takes practice and therefore fosters patient persistence.
• Self-Esteem: The noncompetitive aspect of yoga requires the practitioner, no matter how small, to work with his or her own body and not compare. The awareness of their own unique strengths helps to cultivate self-love, acceptance and respect.
• Mindfulness: Kids learn to connect more deeply with their inner self, and they become able to develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. Yoga provides a healthy space for their young minds to prosper.
• Improves Grades: Whether it’s the ability to focus more in class, sleep better at night, or any combinations of the above benefits, studies show an improvement in classroom performance when kids participate in yoga. In a study of kindergarten through 8th-grade students in an inner-city school, researchers from California State University proved a “statistically significant” link between yoga participation and better grades.
• Kindness: Yoga can be the bullying antidote by teaching kindness and compassion: how our kind words affect others and how it feeds our kind hearts and fuels our kind thoughts. Other activities teach sportsmanship but yoga intentionally practices compassion before conflict.
• Emotional Literacy: Children need an opportunity to associate how they are feeling with an actual word in order to seek help when they need it and have meaningful conversations with adults. The ability to communicate dramatically increases their understanding of their emotions as they learn to manage and self-regulate.
I am a very strong advocate for incorporating yoga into the school system to aid the over stimulation that can occur in ever growing classroom sizes. Until yoga is incorporated in PE or classrooms, please consider bringing yoga home to your child. Visit Imagination Yoga online to find out how you can get more involved or to find local classes.