Benefits of yoga and Mindfulness for children and young people.
As we see and hear how today’s children are living with anxiety, worry, stress, exam pressures, society and peer pressure and expectations, there is a growing body of evidence that Yoga and mindfulness can help children develop resilience to manage these pressures, and so more educational establishments are turning to Yoga and Mindfulness and implementing these into their school day/week/PE sessions, to help children to manage their lives better.
There are many benefits to Yoga, below are some of them.
- Physical: Yoga includes physical postures which help:
- Build and develop the Vestibular (movement and balance) and Proprioceptive (body awareness) systems
- Encourages midline crossing
- Builds a strong and flexible body
- Increases balance, body awareness and coordination
- Develops cores strength, essential for good posture and correct physical alignment
- Relaxes the body, helping to promote better sleep
- Improved posture: sitting at a desk for long periods can lead to pain and reduced breathing capacity.
- Yoga increases awareness of the body and teaches the muscles to align correctly.
- Yoga poses aimed at balance, stamina and flexibility can help strengthen muscles and connective tissues, to enable good posture. Good posture then increases cognitive performance
- Promotes thinking and memory
- Increases concentration, focus and attention span
- Increases imagination and creativity
Yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behaviour, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.
Develops mind-body awareness: teaching children how to pay attention to their bodies and minds can help them to begin to notice the impact stress can have on their well-being e.g they may notice how their stomach tightens if they’re worried about something, and might choose a breathing exercise to relax it, so helping them to change their behaviours by using positive natural strategies (Benavides & Caballero, 2009, Wang & Hagins, 2016).
Improves self-regulation: self-regulation is our ability to manage stress, emotions and behaviours. Psychological and Neuro-scientific research is beginning to show that Yoga and meditation may help children and young adults to manage their mood and stress (Kaley-Isley, Peterson. Fischer & Peterson 2010, Miller et al 2014), thereby changing how they behave and respond in situations. The idea being Yoga helps to dampen the fight or flight response, inducing the calming response, helping the child to self-soothe and self-calm.