by Teresa Anne Power
Yoga has become the most widely practiced exercise system in the world, not only for adults but children as well. According to a National Health Interview Survey, there are 21 million adult yoga practitioners in the United States and 1.7 million American children under the age of 17 who practice yoga as well. The many health benefits of yoga for adults are equally applicable for our youth, as yoga nourishes the mind, body, and spirit, and paves the way for a life-long tradition of health and fitness. Children of all ages and sizes and varying degrees of athletic abilities can practice yoga, a non-competitive form of exercise.[ad name=”AdSense Responsive”]
Here are the top three benefits of yoga for kids:
- Yoga increases focus and concentration. Practicing simple yoga poses helps children to concentrate better, which in turn strengthens the brain. They are able to learn new things faster and more effectively, which equates with better school performance. An example of a yoga pose that helps master the mindset of focus is Tree pose, pictured right. This posture helps with concentration and balance.
- Yoga promotes calmness and eases stress. Children today are faced with over-stimulation as they strive to keep up with the fast-paced demands of our technological society. Practicing simple yoga postures is the ideal way for kids to naturally unwind and de-stress. Yoga teaches children how to calm themselves; this in turn helps with their self-confidence as they learn how to self-regulate. Yoga also is a great stress-reliever and can help kids stay calm while coping with worries like tests and peer pressure. Easy pose, pictured right, teaches kids how to focus on their breathing in order to calm their bodies and minds. The breath has amazing powers to soothe the nervous system, and breathing in and out through the nose can have a positive impact on children’s moods and energy levels.
- Yoga is a form of physical fitness. Physical activity is natural for kids and essential for their healthy development. Children need exercise, but all too often, the physical education programs in schools focus on competition and performance, sometimes pushing children beyond their limits. Yoga, on the other hand, involves doing what is right for each individual’s body type. It benefits not only the child who delights in team sports, like volleyball, basketball, and soccer, but also the child who prefers individual sports, such as tennis, dance, and the martial arts. Even kids who are not good at sports can achieve excellent results. Yoga keeps kids fit through physical strengthening; maintaining the postures requires effort from young muscles. Plank pose, pictured right, keeps children’s bodies both strong and limber.
In sum, yoga increases the ability of kids to concentrate and focus, is a form of exercise that builds strength and flexibility, and helps children stay calm (even kids with ADD or ADHD). All told, this translates into healthier minds and bodies, not to mention a better performance at school.
About the author:
Teresa Anne Power is an internationally recognized expert on children’s yoga and the author of the bestselling and award-winning book The ABCs of Yoga for Kids, which has been translated into 4 languages and sold worldwide. She has appeared on local and national TV and radio talking about the health benefit of yoga for kids, and is a keynote speaker. Her newest book, The ABCs of Yoga for Kids: A Guide for Parents and Teachers is coming out on Kids’ Yoga Day which is on April 8, 2016. For more information go to her website at www.abcyogaforkids.com.
Illustrations adapted from The ABCs of Yoga for Kids, written by Teresa Anne Power and illustrated by Kathleen Rietz.