Did you know that yoga is great for kids? More and more studies are showing the numerous benefits that come from yoga and mindfulness. And we’re not just talking about flexibility, although it definitely helps with that, too! Yoga for children can be powerful. The elements of yoga—visualization, mindfulness, breathing exercises, and movement—give children skills to reduce stress and find balance in their hearts and minds.
Let’s take a deeper look at six of the hidden benefits that these practices can provide our children.
Six Benefits for Kids
1. Builds Confidence
Yoga is a naturally non-competitive environment that can build confidence in all ages, shapes, and abilities. Whether your child is an active athlete just looking to increase flexibility, or a bookworm with little interest in sports, yoga provides an environment to introduce new physical challenges in a safe and all-accepting environment. Overcoming challenges ON a yoga mat, can lead to overcoming challenges OFF the yoga mat, increasing overall confidence.
2. Decreases Anxiety
Yoga and Mindfulness are researched and known for their ability to regulate the physiological systems associated with anxiety. When we use yoga to decrease a physiological response, such as reducing heart rate, we can have more control over our stress response systems.
“There is also evidence that yoga practice help increases heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly.” -Harvard Medical School
3. Builds Focus and Concentration
Yoga encourages present moment awareness. When faced with a physical challenge in yoga, it’s almost impossible to think about the past or dwell on the future. As children practice yoga, they develop the ability to focus on the situation at hand, which helps them with school and other problem-solving tasks.
4. Promotes Self-Care
Building a foundation of this practice in childhood is essential. Children can learn about healthy habits early so they are more likely to continue that practice into adulthood. Time spent during yoga may be the only time a child spends focusing on caring for themselves. It’s so empowering to have a child know the benefit of a deep breath or know how to keep their body healthy.
5. Increases Self-Awareness
Yoga has a way of helping us get to know our inner self, feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Without paying attention to these things, we may not be able to shift or change them, if we wanted to. This is called Introspection and is the idea that you can pay attention to what is going on inside your body and mind. Without self-awareness, we tend to respond unconsciously to things. Yoga and Mindfulness helps us to shift so that children are making more informed decisions about their bodies and responses to stress.
6. Builds Balance and Flexibility
You do not have to be a pretzel to increase flexibility through the practice of yoga. In fact, you don’t even have to consider yourself “flexible” to start a practice. When you start incorporating yoga movements in your body, such as forward folding, twists, and balances, you increase the body’s intelligence by improving flexibility. You increase the range of movement in your body, building new neural pathways in the brain, as well as pathways in the muscles and tissues in your body.
“After 8 weeks, the average flexibility of the yoga group improved by 13 percent to 35 percent and the gains were significantly greater than the non-yoga group.” – A study by the American Council on Exercise
As you can see, yoga and mindfulness can be instrumental in how we raise children of the future to be healthy, well-regulated, and responsible members of our communities. So next time you’re looking for something fun to do with your kiddos, try yoga!
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