Why is yoga good for kids? Kids these days are busy. They have school all day, extracurriculars and homework in the evenings, family time and more extracurriculars and things to do on the weekends. Even though kids have different needs, practicing yoga is valuable for kids for many of the same reasons it is beneficial for adults. Yoga helps calm the nervous system. It helps kids relax, relieve stress and anxiety, sleep better, improve emotional regulation, increase empathy, and improve their mood. It also helps build strength in muscles and bones, improves flexibility and mobility in the joints, teaches healthy movement and posture, and develops physical balance. Practicing yoga with kids also teaches them how to be more mindful.
For kids, stress is something they are only just learning about, and they often don’t know what it is or how to handle it. It’s up to us to provide them with effective and appropriate tools to help them understand and manage their emotions.
Here Are 7 Benefits of Yoga For Kids:
1. Yoga Improves Focus
Practicing yoga requires concentration of both the mind and the body. We have to pay attention to the movement of our bodies and how our breathing coordinates with those movements. Some yoga poses, especially balancing poses, require more concentration than other poses. When kids practice yoga, they are essentially practicing their ability to attend to and focus on the task at hand. In their day-to-day lives, this translates to better attention, memory, and cognitive functioning at school, leading to improved academic achievement.
2. Yoga Improves Self-Image and Relationships
Through yoga practice, kids learn to honor the body for what it can do. They learn a healthy outlet for taking risks and exploring movement. Mindful movement keeps kids to be connected to their body, allowing them to feel anchored and grounded within their own body. It teaches self-acceptance and self-compassion. Yoga helps to cultivate increased self-esteem, self-confidence, and empathy within kids. This translates to more positive relationships with others by reflecting their positive attitude toward themselves onto others.
3. Yoga Improves Sleep
Getting the body moving during the day is an excellent way to improve sleep. When we are stressed or overwhelmed, our bodies store tension and our minds are full of racing thoughts, reducing our ability to sleep well. This is also true for kids. We tend to think that kids don’t feel stressed, but this simply isn’t the case. Kids aren’t stressed about the same things as adults such as finances or getting to work on time, but they are stressed out by their schoolwork and peer relationships. Practicing yoga helps kids to relieve stress by teaching them to use their breathing to calm the mind and the nervous system. The physical practice of yoga also helps to relieve tension and release negative emotions held physically in the body, helping them to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
4. Yoga Improves Strength and Breath Control
Yoga builds strength – both mentally and physically. When practiced regularly, we notice many physical and cognitive changes within ourselves, particularly increased flexibility, muscle strength, and mental clarity. The poses used in yoga help increase the strength of the muscles that lead to better breath control and more efficient breathing. Opening up through the neck and shoulders, chest, ribcage and core muscles all contribute to easier breathing. Better breathing improves so many different systems of the body including circulation, digestion, and immune function. Teaching breathing techniques from a young age and building physical and mental strength helps to reduce the chances of obesity, depression, and depressive symptoms, as well as increases self-esteem, self-confidence, and improves overall wellbeing.
5. Yoga Increases Determination and Perseverance
Yoga is a fun activity for kids in a non-competitive environment in which they can learn new yoga poses and breathing techniques. When something is fun for kids, they always want to know more. Kids also love the feeling they get when they master something that they think they can’t do. For example, there are some challenging balancing poses. While they are so much fun for kids to practice, they can be difficult. But when they learn how to practice the pose and continue to practice it, they are very excited and want to show everyone the new thing they learned at yoga class! This determination and perseverance leads to a feeling of achievement, accomplishment, and competence. Off the yoga mat, kids will learn that they can do hard things! They learn that sticking with something, even when it is difficult, is worth the effort.
6. Yoga Improves Self-Regulation
Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and manage your energy states, thoughts, and emotions based on the current situation. Self-regulation and coping skills help kids creatively solve problems as they arise. By paying attention to our minds and bodies, we learn that we can turn inward to better understand our thoughts and feelings. Practicing yoga teaches these skills of mindfulness and noticing what’s going on in the body and mind. This helps kids to understand and work with their emotions. For example, if a child is frustrated at school, they are less likely to be paying attention to any new material, therefore not retaining any of that information. By learning to reflect inward and recognize what they need in different situations, kids can learn to handle the situation more effectively and appropriately. The breathing techniques, mindfulness, games, and meditation that are part of a kids yoga class all help kids learn to do this.
7. Yoga Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Yoga boosts the endorphins that increase mood and also reduce stress and anxiety. All the tools we use in yoga practice helps regulate the nervous system. It helps kids recover more quickly from stressful situations like an argument with a friend, or pressure from a big test. Breathing, meditation, and mindful movement all help balance any over-stimulation of the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. Practicing yoga helps to reduce stress and anxiety by activating the relaxation response, relieving tension throughout the body, and literally releasing the built-up pressure kids have stored within their bodies.
All of these benefits make it clear that yoga can be an important tool for children’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Ready to get started? Check out my kids yoga class offerings here: www.saraaddingtonyoga.com/kids-classes and your kids can start moving and grooving, stretching and strengthening, and finding calm balanced energy.