Yoga does three things for Kids
After a year of practice, studies find that yoga:
- Increases Focus: A child focusing on a task helps them get their homework done faster, answer test questions and concentrate on where the ball is during their baseball or soccer game.
- Increases Body and Mind Awareness: This gives children the skills to control their emotions so less outbursts in the playground and fewer tantrums for the parents, physical and spatial coordination (great for sports) and they also learn that the more effort they put into something the better they get at it (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9862693/Praise-childrens-effort-not-their-intelligence.html)
- Increases Attentive Listening Skills: This helps with listening to the teacher and instructions… a surefire way to get better grades. Listening skills helps with social interactions, and social skills, something invaluable when they start work, meet their life partner and have kids of their own.
Do you do yoga?
Well then you know the benefits that you receive from a good yoga class. Parents who love yoga have told me that they want to introduce those benefits to their children, but aren’t sure how to start. Moms were looking for a way to give their children the health benefits of yoga without it being a lot of hard work! Children’s yoga isn’t about emphasizing a “perfect” stance or holding poses for long periods of time and A Yoga Story is a fun and bonding activity that you can do with your son or daughter.
So how do I introduce my child to yoga?
Yoga Picture Books and Videos
There are many yoga books, videos and television shows out there. Introducing it as a fun game, story or show is a great way to start a family yoga practice. You can use my books, a myriad of other yoga books for kids (check out Amazon), look for a DVD, or even YouTube.
Yoga for Kids classes
There are many yoga classes that are just for kids. Franchises like Yoga Bugs incorporate yoga stories, but look around your area for a style and teacher that works best with your child’s needs and personality. Each instructor is unique.
Introduce the idea of Yoga in your School
Advocate for Yoga or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in your child’s classroom and school. Regular yoga and mindfulness reduced conflicts in the playground and bullying (see the research below). What a benefit to each child of that school!
Tools learned from this instruction include breath work, careful listening, movement, and reflection, which enable students to reduce anxiety, conflict, and attention disorders. A teacher introduced MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) after experiencing problems with classroom management and witnessing an escalation of conflicts on the playground. These episodes were affecting the students’ ability to concentrate in class. After integrating yoga, there was an immediate, noticeable difference. There was improved student interaction at recess, the children harbored less anxiety about upcoming tests, and the entered the classroom with more inner peace. Not only did behavior improve, but test scores rose that year as well.
Suttie, J. (2007) Mindfulness and Meditation in Schools for Stress Management. Greater Good Magazine. v1 n4
Researchers at California State University recently examined the correlation between yoga and academic performance, discipline, attendance, and self-esteem. The study showed a 20% increase in the number of students who felt good about themselves and a six percent increase in classroom discipline, indicating that students who had high participation in yoga class also had fewer referrals or discipline problems. These research results also showed a “statistically significant” link between yoga participation and better grades.
Slovacek, S. P., Tucker, S. A., & Pantoja, L. (2003) A Study of the Yoga Ed Program at The Accelerated School. P2, 10.
This study compared before-and-after verbal and spatial test results for three groups of children: those attending a fine arts camp, those attending a yoga camp, and a control group. The only group that showed any difference between its before-and-after test results was the yoga group, which demonstrated a 43% rate of improvement in the spatial category. This suggests that yoga practice, which included physical postures, yoga breathing, meditation, and guided relaxation in the study, improved the performance of children’s right-hemisphere brain activity.
Therapeutic Effects of Yoga for Children: A Systematic Review of the Literature Galantino, Mary Lou PT, PhD, MSCE; Galbavy, Robyn PT, MPT; Quinn, Lauren DPT
Yoga also has shown to be beneficial to children with ADHD and Autism
Researchers in New York assigned schoolchildren with autism either to a daily yoga program or a standard routine (control). The daily yoga program, “Get Ready to Learn,” was conducted in classrooms for 16 weeks. The therapeutic yoga-based curriculum included yoga breathing exercises, movement sequences and relaxation.The participants behaviors were assessed with standardized measures before and after the study. The researchers found that students in the yoga program had significant improvement in teacher ratings of behavior compared to the control group.
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