Adults have long understood the positive impact of yoga and now there’s a growing realisation that it’s just as beneficial for children.
This has led to more and more schools and childcare centres around the world embracing yoga as a regular fixture on their timetables because of the role it can play in maintaining healthy bodies and minds.
For example, an article published on the Harvard Health Blog reported on a national survey which found that three per cent of children (1.7 million of them) did yoga in 2012 which represented an increase of 400,000 over 2008. Studies also suggest that yoga can have a positive impact on children with behavioural issues and special challenges like AHDH and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Children’s yoga is also gaining popularity in Australia as parents and educators realise its significant therapeutic and health benefits. It’s a real leveller and is non-competitive which means children of all ages, stages and abilities can participate on an equal footing in an activity that nurtures their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
So if you haven’t yet introduced your child to yoga, here are some compelling reasons why it’s a good time to start!
The Physical Benefits of Yoga
Yoga strengthens growing bodies and can improve a child’s muscle tone, joint flexibility, co-ordination and balance. It helps build fitness and core strength which is important for good posture and can play an important part in reducing the likelihood of injury as the child goes through life.
The mind/body awareness that yoga brings also helps children become more comfortable in their own bodies and as a result, they’ll be more prepared for the physical changes which take place as they develop.
Yoga is also a stress reliever, which has the positive knock-on effect of boosting the immune system and stimulating the all-important lymph system to fight off any nasty bacteria and viruses. Dee breathing techniques can also help increase a child’s lung capacity and will bring more oxygen around their bodies.
Many yoga poses can be made child-friendly with fun and relatable descriptions like ‘flying bird pose’ (Warrior III) and while the child is holding some of these positions, they will actually be stimulating their gut and improving their digestive process.
The Cognitive Benefits of Yoga
Research has also shown that the mindfulness which comes with a yoga practice can improve memory, concentration and learning, which ultimately paves the way for improved academic performance.
The Emotional Benefits of Yoga
The peaceful and relaxing practice of yoga gives a child a chance to put some distance between themselves and their busy world. It teaches them to unplug and be in the present moment and it provides a crucial opportunity for them to reset and regulate their emotions.
As every parent and educator knows, self esteem is one of the most important drivers for emotional health - and yoga is a great mood-lifter. It can boost a child’s positive sense of self and their confidence.
Children learn to incorporate breathing and relaxation techniques through yoga and this can be hugely beneficial in helping them deal with anxiety and stress. Yoga isn’t a magic wand that’ll take away negative emotions like fear, anger or stress, but it does empower the child to address and process their feelings in a healthy, positive way.
The Social Benefits of Yoga
As children become more self-aware through yoga, they become more aware of others. Their social skills improve and their social connection is better.
Yoga also inspires children to be kinder and more patient. They’re likely to be more empathetic, more understanding and more tolerant of others and all of these qualities will help set a child up for better social inclusion and participation.
The Wellness Programme at our Treasured Tots child care centres in Fremantle, Bibra Lake and Mandurah focuses on the three key pillars of Resilience, Wellbeing and Awareness and aims to provide children with opportunities to learn about themselves and others.
It has been carefully developed by our highly experienced educators to incorporate interactive experiences which are designed to lead to optimal individual wellness from a physical, emotional and mental health perspective...and yes, you guessed it, yoga is on the menu!
Check out our FaceBook page to see pics of our little ones in their favourite yoga poses and we also welcome you to visit one of our child care centres in Mandurah, Fremantle or Bibra Lake to experience our unique approach to mindful learning.