Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices. Widely practiced for health and relaxation, the primary aspects of Yoga are breath control, meditation practices and physical postures. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj”, which means unite or integrate. Yoga is a union of mind and body and spirit and helps in bringing harmony between mind, body and breath.
Yoga has its origin in ancient India, dating back 5000 years.
Yoga is becoming more popular all over the world. Many people who practice yoga enjoy the physical and mental benefits they feel from the exercise. Some studies have also found that it can have significant effects on general well-being. Yoga combines stretching, core exercise and strengthening, balance, breathing, and mediation. While this type of exercise has been proven beneficial for adults, can it help children as well?
Yoga classes for children are popping up all over. Some schools have even introduced yoga into the physical education curriculum. Yoga has both physical and mental benefits of for children of all ages. Physically, children are able to learn proper ways to stretch. They also strengthen muscles in a non-damaging way. Younger children shouldn’t be weightlifting due to a high risk of injury. Yoga offers a way for children to become stronger without all the dangerous equipment used for normal strength training.
Another physical benefit is body awareness. This means that children are more in tune with their bodies. This is especially beneficial during growth spurts when children can become clumsy and prone to accidents. Being aware of their bodies and more in touch with their movements can help prevent some of the slips and falls that can happen during this awkward time. Body awareness also means increased awareness of how strong and powerful bodies are. When practicing yoga, you are able to see progress over time. A position that may have been too difficult for you to even attempt when you’re starting out becomes easy. This shows children that their bodies are capable and strong. In a world where body image concerns and eating disorders start from a young age, the body positive messages conveyed by yoga are incredibly important.
Yoga can help boost self-esteem so children focus more on what their bodies can do, rather than outward appearances. Yoga also teaches perseverance. Attempting a new balancing pose is never easy. Usually, it means falling a few times and lots of practice before you get it right. During a yoga class, children are able to see others fail and try again, even if it takes a few days or weeks before they succeed. This is an important lesson for children that benefits them in all aspects of their life.
Learning to fall, dust yourself off, and try again can help children in the classroom, social situations, or even other sports. Another benefit of yoga is stress management. Today, kids are more stressed and anxious than ever before. With rising rates of anxiety and depression in teens and children, yoga can offer a positive way to relieve stress and anxiety. Yoga teaches students how to calm the body and mind through breathing techniques. It also can introduce children to meditation, which can be effective for treating anxiety and depression. Yoga can show children how breath control and meditation can help them in times of high stress. It offers a positive, beneficial method of relieving stress. Yoga can also help increase focus. Focus and memory are intertwined and both are necessary in the classroom. Yoga teaches a sense of calm and the ability to focus on specific parts of the body or your breathing. The brain is like a muscle, and while children are working their arm and leg muscles, they can also be working their brains. Learning to focus during yoga can help children in the classroom. Increased focus and memory improve academic performance and both of these can be strengthened through yoga.
Yoga is also a way of exercising without being involved in competitive sports. A little competition is good for children, but nowadays children are facing way too much competition in school and extracurricular activities. Yoga offers an alternative to competitive sports while still giving children a chance to exercise in a group environment. Yoga teaches children that working in a group does not need to lead to aggression or competition. It allows children to feel part of a group in a healthy, inclusive way. This also helps to create an environment where failure is accepted, and classmates can encourage each other positively.
One way that many yoga teachers are reaching their younger students is by focusing on embodying animals. Children can do poses related to animals and feel like that animal for a few moments. This can help children explore different personality traits. They can try feeling mighty like an eagle or menacing like a cobra. Lion pose can let students feel strong and powerful. Children can try on these personality traits and explore their emotional range. This can help them start to feel some of these traits in real life as well. By pretending to be an eagle or a lion for a few minutes a day, students are able to take on the confidence of these animals both in and outside the yoga studio.
Yoga also offers a healthy alternative for relaxation that doesn’t involve a screen. Most parents know that to get children to calm down, putting a screen in front of them can be very helpful. However, we are starting to see more negative effects from increased screen time. Insomnia due to excessive blue light is becoming a growing problem. TV and tablets constantly over-stimulate children, meaning that they aren’t able to focus on less visually stimulating things, such as the chalkboard at school. Yoga presents an alternative to screen time for calming kids down.
Instead of letting them watch a TV show or play a game every day after school, yoga could be a healthy, positive way for kids to relax when they get home. A few yoga poses before bed can help children relax much more fully than screen time. Yoga is a beneficial exercise for people of all ages. However, it has numerous positive effects for children. Along with the physical benefits, children are also exposed to a positive group environment, have increased body awareness, lower stress levels, and learn perseverance. It can also help them to feel confident and more focused. Studies even show that yoga can help with special needs children who suffer from ADHD or autism. Why not give it a try with your kid at home or at a yoga studio near you?
Government of India has launched many initiatives to spread awareness and benefits of yoga. Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister has been practicing yoga for many years. In the recent years Narendra Modi has participated in yoga sessions with general public. This has helped boost popularity of Yoga, especially among children.
With many stressful conditions for children in Indian cities, practicing yoga for children has proved very beneficial to relax, destress, achieve mental and physical strength and improve focus.
Many schools in Bangalore have added Yoga as a part of the daily school routine. Inclusion of Yoga as one of the forms of exercise and sessions with experts has helped many schools in Bangalore to achieve success in their educational system.