If yoga is taught to children with the right approach there are huge physical, emotional and educational benefits. With the use of technology and tight school budgets, children and young adults around the world need activity. The current generation of children has a hard time focusing, does not get enough exercise, and does not get enough nutrition.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children spend no more than 1-2 hours a day watching television or participating in entertainment media like video games; however, studies show that the average child or adolescent spends six or more hours a day on combined entertainment like television, computer programs, video games, and DVDs. The AAP concludes that as a result of this media consumption, children and adolescents are more vulnerable to increased health risks like obesity, poor self-image, increased aggression, lowered academic performance, and a lack of adequate nutrition.
One way schools have tried to combat the negative effects of physical inactivity during class time is by introducing yoga training into the school day. Due to the fact that studies have shown that children who practice yogic exercises are more engaged academically, struggle less with anxiety or hyperactivity and are physically healthier and more active, giving children a chance to practice yogic techniques in schools can benefit the entire system.
Benefits for Schools and children
Benefits at a glance
Concentration – children can transfer their concentration skills to other areas of the curriculum
Behaviour – improving and changing challenging behaviour is at the core of our teaching approach . This is one of the major benefits of of providing yoga as part of the integrated school day.
Do read the case study: Can Yoga Improve Behaviour?
Physical fitness – increased flexibility, muscles toned and strengthened, better posture, healthier bones, improved balancing skills.
Relaxation & Calming – children learning how to stay calm in difficult situations. In other words they learn how to be in control by using their new found breathing techniques and calming skills
This is often a major breakthrough for many children who may never get the opportunity to learn how to relax.
Well-being & self esteem – children enjoying a great sense of achievement from the posture work because we make the activities achievable and fun. In addition children feel good about themselves and their bodies because of the exercise.
Children improve their social skills because of the yoga games we play which focus on teamwork, listening, cooperation and other social areas.
They feel in control and responsible because of their ability to be calm and relaxed. They are included and valued regardless of size, intellectual ability or culture.
Since introducing a daily, 30-minute yoga lesson into her fourth-grade classroom last fall, teacher Janae Andrews has noted that her class as a whole has become better at focusing and staying on-task. She agrees with researchers who have concluded that yoga enables students an opportunity to feel more settled as it gives them strategies for dealing with stress or negative emotions.
“We started with 10 minutes of deep breathing exercises,” I could tell a difference from the way the students were behaving right before we did yoga to the way they behaved right after.”
Many teachers don’t feel they need to go that far, since a normal yoga class for kids is comprised of a warm-up, a flowing routine, and a concluding time meant to calm the brain and relax the body. Students will benefit physically from the activity, emotionally from the release of endorphins and mentally from the renewed ability of the brain to focus.
“Yoga,” Hands concludes, “is the best method I have to enhance classroom behavior and increase basic skills retention.