This guest blog by Jade Hill, a Yoga Instructor & Certified Life Coach, explores how yoga can benefit kids and help them cope with their experience of growing up in a fast-paced high-tech world.
The world is changing at an extraordinary pace. Technological advances and the amount of time spent on multimedia devices show a shift in the lifestyles of new generations. Kids are exposed to new levels of expectations and demands that previous generations can hardly comprehend, let alone keep up with.
The problem is well known, as a 2014 review paper published in Front Psychiatry describes:
“Globalization exposes children and young people all over the world to various new standards and options. Now children not only have new resources in their lives but are also expected to perform well. Different institutions in children and adolescents’ lives, such as family, school, and the media, constantly provide stimulation as well as expectations. This exposure to new expectations and demands has the potential to create stress in young people’s lives, especially related to evaluation of their performances.”
The negative aspect of these increasing expectations can mean that kids are increasingly at risk of stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions. According to a 2016 Eurofound report “Across the EU, 14% of young adults are at risk of depression, and 4% of young people aged 15-24 suffer from chronic depression.”
So while modern life brings many comforts and advances, the effects on the mental health of the younger generations are being tested in real-time.
This article explores yoga practice and how it can benefit kids and help them cope with their experience of growing up in a fast-paced technological world.
The benefits of yoga have been well known for centuries and although originating from an ancient practice it would seem that yoga has lots to offer the modern experience.
Yoga’s focus on core strength and flexibility is incredibly beneficial for the body especially as we live a much more sedentary lifestyle to that of our ancestors. Yoga can increase coordination and help you to feel more healthy with increased vitality. In addition to yoga poses, yoga’s deep breathing and meditation practices can help to relieve stress and allow the mind to declutter, allowing you to become more focused and calm.
Yoga for kids
While yoga’s benefits for kids have been less well researched than for adults, there have been several clinical trials carried out showing the benefits of yoga for children. Yoga has been found to help school children manage and reduce stress and anxiety. Research into the benefits of yoga in children, found that:
“Many students found Yoga helped them be aware of their own negativity, thus reducing their tendency to be emotionally reactive. Some found this mind-body movement practice useful to enhance their levels of positive emotions.’’
A 2019 article in the Irish Times asked ‘Is it time to add yoga to the primary school curriculum?‘ A teacher who had been teaching for 20 years, on introducing yoga into her classroom, soon noticed the positive impact the practice was having upon the school kids, “Initially they found it difficult, stillness is difficult for them but soon I noticed the calming effect it was having on students with high anxiety.”
Yoga benefits for kids
Chandra Nanthakumar and Harvard professor SatBr Khalsa stated that “Yoga in schools helps students improve resilience, mood, and self-regulation skills pertaining to emotions and stress. Thus, yoga is an important life skill tool for children and young people to cope with stress and self-regulation in a life-long perspective.’’
“Yoga and mindfulness have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children (ages 6 to 12). Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. Yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behaviour, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.”
The benefits of kids yoga are manyfold. Practising yoga helps kids build awareness, increases coordination, and creates a positive mindset. Along with increasing strength and flexibility, yoga can help prevent the risk and intensity of injuries. We are born with an innate flexibility and by practising yoga and doing various yoga poses this can help it continue this into teenage years and adulthood.
What are the other benefits of yoga for kids?
Yoga teaches kids to be present in the moment. It increases awareness and improves concentration, helping children through their time at school and giving them increased confidence and self-esteem.
It also teaches discipline and responsibility of self and the world we live in. This helps us to feel connected with one another and the world around us, which is essential for improving our home (Planet Earth) and the current state of the environment. Yoga teaches us that our inner world is just as important, if not more so, as the illusions in our external world.
“If a certain population in the World experiences this, if a certain percentage of the world becomes truly meditative, definitely the quality of the world will change.’’ – Sadhguru
Through yoga, children learn the breathing techniques of yoga which can help kids to have a peaceful and relaxed mind and body. Yoga can also help kids to balance their energies and use the right side of their brain which can increase creativity, intuition and a connection with a Divine source.
“The practice of yoga, if done consistently, may enable children to connect with their inner world through the coordination of mind, body and breath to achieve greater heights of mindfulness. Higher states of tranquillity are achieved, paving the way to a healthier physical, mental and emotional life. The meditative movement practice appears to be a cost-effective way of dealing with stress and anxiety.” [Researchgate]
Yoga Bears at school and online
Yoga Bears is a concept that has been implemented in over 160+ schools in the United Kingdom. A form of kids yoga classes, Yoga Bears combines the ancient techniques of Yoga with the modern idea of a superhero.
Using teddy bears, rhymes and stories, Yoga Bears engage kids in yoga and helps the children learn in a play environment to build awareness of themselves and others. It is suitable for both preschoolers and primary school children.
The classes also help kids learn about the concept of Chakras – the centres in our subtle energetic bodies through which energy flows and which are a focal point in many ancient Yoga and Meditation practices.
In addition to schools, Yoga Bears are being used online to bring yoga practice to homes. Jade Hill of Yogain offers online yoga classes for children, available on internet-connected TVs, tablets, mobiles or other internet-ready devices.
As well as kids yoga, Yogain also offers a collection of bedtime stories and wellbeing activities to help children live a balanced, harmonious and healthy lifestyle.
Jade Hill is a Yoga Instructor & Certified Life Coach at Yogain. Jade’s focus at Yogain is to bring balance back to kids mental and physical activities by providing low cost, healthy screen time, available in the comfort of your own home anywhere in the world. Yogain launched in September 2019 and aims to empower people of all ages to reach their highest potential.
Visit her website here: https://www.yogain108.com
And Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/yogain108/
[Top Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash]