Do kids really need yoga in their lives? The answer is YES and the reasons why they need it are many.
Children today live in a very fast paced world. Between pressures from school, extra curricular activities, their peers, parents, and society, the hustle and bustle of every day life can quickly wear down a child’s inner peace and joy. All of these pressures and expectations can lead to a whole lot of stress, and while most kids are not familiar with the concept of stress, they can still experience what it feels like without giving it a label or name.
– Linda, Illinois
Kidding Around Yoga, at it’s very essence, is stress management for kids.
In addition to managing stress, Kidding Around Yoga can benefit kids in many other capacities. Here are just a few:
- Standing poses improve posture and strength. They also reduce symptoms of scoliosis.
- Balancing poses improve focus, concentration, strength, coordination, and poise.
- Back bends stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and are invigorating. They also open and strengthen the heart and chest.
- Forward bends stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and are relaxing. They also help to massage the digestive system.
- Inversions and more difficult poses encourage practice and build strength and self-esteem.
- The Peaceful Garden aka DESSERT is a version of deep relaxation that allows the body to assimilate all of the benefits of the yoga practice. In this still and quiet portion of class, kids are able to create a special place in their minds where they feel peaceful, happy and safe.
- Breathing practices are a great way to reduce stress and help with focus and concentration. They also help reduce allergy and asthmatic symptoms.
- Meditation enhances calmness and clarity of mind.
- The cardiovascular activity included in KAY classes allows kids to expend their energy in a healthy way and strengthens the cardiovascular system.
- The sense of play incorporated into KAY classes allows kids to let loose, be silly and have fun.
- Music and dancing have therapeutic properties and teach rhythm, tempo and coordination.
- The principles of yoga teach kids kindness, sharing, compassion, mindfulness, awareness, and much more. Tools that will serve them for the rest of their lives!
School-based yoga programs are being increasingly implemented across the United States as a result of the evidence produced from research. These programs address stress and anxiety, promote social and emotional learning, and physical and emotional health. These are all basic requirements for readiness to learn and for a positive and healthy school climate.
School-based yoga helps to develop Mind-Body Awareness by training students how to pay attention to the relationship between the two. As a result, students notice the impact of stress on their well-being. This awareness (also known as mindfulness) may lead to changes in behavior. Check out these studies below for more information.
Benavides & Caballero, 2009
Wang & Hagins, 2016
Eastman-Mueller et al., 2013
Self-regulation can refer to our ability to manage our stress, emotions, and behaviors. Research is starting to show that yoga and meditation may help youth manage their stress and mood and behave more positively. Check out these studies below for more information.
Kaley-Isley, Peterson, Fischer, & Peterson, 2010
Miller et al., 2014
Butzer et al., 2015
Schonert-Reichl & Lawlor, 2010
Research suggests that yoga may improve physical fitness in adolescents as well as result in improved respiratory function, increased exercise adherence, and reduced obesity risk factors. An important difference between yoga and mindfulness meditation is that yoga includes physical postures. Essentially, yoga is a practice of “mindfulness in motion” that uses the body to promote awareness of the present moment. Check out these studies below for more information.
Cramer, Lauche, Haller, et al., 2014
Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2012
Purohit et al., 2016
Liu et al., 2014
Bryan, Pinto, & Parasher, 2011
Recent research suggests that providing educators with training in yoga and mindfulness-based skills may have several beneficial effects for educators, including increases in calmness, mindfulness, well-being, and positive mood, improvements in classroom management, emotional reactivity, stabilized blood pressure, cortisol awakening response, and decreases in mind and body stress. Providing teachers with skills and practices to enhance their own self care is a crucial step toward improving classroom climate, teacher effectiveness and student outcomes. Check out these studies below for more information.
Harris et al., 2016
Jennings et al., 2013
Kemeny et al., 2012
Nosaka & Okamura, 2015
Schussler et al., 2016
Sharp & Jennings, 2016
Yoga and Mindfulness in Schools
Kidding Around Yoga was honored to share our EduKAY program to dozens of schools and hundreds of teachers in West Virginia. The following is a summary of the findings by West Virginia University researchers:
• Educators reported a significant increase the ability of students to regulate their
emotions following implementation of EduKAY strategies in the classroom.
• Teachers at midpoint and post-survey reported that mindfulness strategies in the
classroom allowed them to spend more minutes on classroom instruction time.
• Educators at post-survey reported an increase in feeling equipped and knowledgeable in
strategies to support students, recognizing kids in crisis, ability to de-escalate situations,
and resources available to them to support students in the school and community.
• Overall, there appears to be a declining trend in disciplinary actions and referrals for
behavioral/emotional challenges to school nurses/counselors based on principal
reports, but more research is needed.
Click HERE to read the West Virginia Prevention Research Center full report.