Yoga For Kids
This ancient practice has huge physical and emotional benefits for juniors.
Let’s face it. While it may seem as if children have it easier, there are many conflicts and everyday pressures they face constantly. Sports and games are a good way to relieve stress, but yoga can help them become calm and learn how to act or react to stressful situations. Plus, it’s fun.
Yoga is beneficial for children of all ages. It seems to be especially helpful for kids with special needs. A study from Columbia University found that after a 6-week programme that included yoga, more than 90% of the participating children ages 6 to 11 with ADHD improved their academic performance. Researchers suspect that yoga spurs an increase in dopamine, the brain chemical linked to attention, movement and learning. Levels of this hormone is low in kids with ADHD. A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Occ-upational Therapy found yoga helped improve school performance and sustained attention in children with autism. Parents may notice how yoga benefits their kids, but the best judges are the kids themselves.
Children who have practised yoga tell teachers and parents that they are able to concentrate better during the day, focus better on their activities and pay attention to their tasks—all great endorsements.
Here are a few reasons that will make you consider signing your kids up for a lesson.
1. Yoga strengthens the whole body. Because the asanas are done standing, sitting and lying down, different muscles groups are utilised which enables the child to be aware of his body and its functions. It also helps kids improve their posture. Besides yoga postures improve balance and motor coordination in kids.
2. It helps children become more balanced, emotionally. A German study found that children who were trained in relaxation techniques by using breath exercises, imagination journeys and yoga increased long-term emotional balance, reduced fears, and decreased feelings of helplessness and aggression.
3. It boosts self-esteem and confidence and helps children learn on an experiential level. A University of California study of children in a Los Angeles school found a 20% increase in the number of students who felt good about themselves and a 6% increase in classroom discipline scores after regular yoga classes.
This study also indicated that students who had high participation in yoga class had fewer referrals or discipline problems.
4. It promotes a relaxed body and mind. In a study by Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation in Bengaluru, 2 groups of students were selected to either participate in yoga (concentrating on relaxation and awareness) or games (focussing on physical activity). Compared to students not enrolled in the programme, both groups showed a substantial drop in the resting heart rate and significantly lower breathing rates. Moreover, because yoga improves focus and concentration, studies say that it helps kids in the classroom and improves learning.
Here are some asanas kids can try. Make sure they do them under the guidance of a certified teacher.
1. Dhanurasana: This is good for developing confidence and focus in children.
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana: It helps stretch the entire body and is good for expanding energy level.
3. Vriksasana: This posture helps children build balance and alertness.
4. Tadasana: Again, good for balance, it may also help increase height gradually. The posture helps keep the spine straight and erect helping the child walk taller.
5. Sukhasana: Children can learn to sit straight and get the feeling of meditation.
6. Sethubandhasana: It strengthens the core.
7. Bhujangasana: Since kids spend hours sitting at the desk, this asana helps give relief to their back.
8. Virbhadrasana: Helps to stretch the shoulders.
9. Ardhasarwangasana: This pose improves flexibility, helping kids do various activities better.
10. Savasana: It helps to relax and de-stress kids.
Gunjan Kochhar is a certified Hatha, integral and Kundalini yoga teacher.
Taken from Prevention, March 2015.