14 Top Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Adults aren’t the only ones who can benefit from yoga! Here are 14 amazing benefits of yoga for kids that you may not be aware of…
Most people think of yoga as an adult pastime, but in fact, while it does have many benefits for adults – both men and women – yoga can also be highly beneficial for children.
Of course, many of the benefits that adults can experience from a regular yoga practice also apply to children. From the health benefits of physical activity, to the many mental benefits of yoga, kids can enjoy all of these aspects as well. In fact, children may be especially prone to stress and overwhelm, even at a young age, and yoga may help them to learn self-confidence and self-control.
Many doctors and educators are beginning to realize the important benefits of yoga for kids, and some schools have even started including yoga classes in their curriculums.
Here are 14 of the top recognized benefits of yoga for kids:
According to YogaBasics.com, yoga…
1. Keeps Emotions in Check
Children are inherently emotional, and when in school, their emotions can be further heightened by the pressures of learning, socializing, and improving. Yoga in schools can help to give children tools to better regulate their emotions. Yoga allows kids to clear their thoughts and maximize their movements, practicing control in the process.
By paying attention to our minds and bodies, we look inward to better understand our thoughts and feelings. Practicing yoga helps kids to understand and manage their emotions based on the situation. By learning to reflect inward and recognize what they need in certain situations, kids can learn to manage their emotions and handle the situation effectively and appropriately.
2. Improves Academic Results
Let’s be clear; yoga is not a guarantee that children will suddenly up their grades. However, people who practice yoga regularly are more able to compartmentalize themselves and focus. This could be an essential skill for kids and teenagers because better focus can lead to more concise learning and better academic results. Yoga can improve attention too, so children are more likely to stay involved in class.
3. Improves Physical Wellbeing
Yoga helps strengthen children’s growing bodies and helps them improve their flexibility, which can reduce their chance of injuries from the various sports activities that they may participate in. Childhood obesity is a growing problem, and schools are challenged with curbing a rise in overweight kids. Yoga can help improve physical fitness when practiced regularly. It is also relatively easy for beginners and kind to those who are overweight and cannot be as physical.
DoYouYoga.com also says yoga can provide the following benefits for kids:
4. It’s Non-Competitive
In today’s world, we hear so much about being the best and achieving the most. Kids are often involved in numerous competitive sports where they are pitted against each other (or other teams of children), and are all held to the same standard. Yoga teaches kids that their bodies are different; different bodies do different things and all of them are okay. There is no one better or worse at yoga than anyone else; we are all just exploring our bodies and learning from them in our own way. Yoga is truly for every body.
5. Teaches Self-Acceptance & Self-Esteem
In the same way that it provides children an opportunity to learn something that is non-competitive, yoga also teaches kids to accept and cherish themselves as they are. Again, with society sending so many messages of inadequacy, yoga teaches kids to love themselves.
Perfecting a pose or improving their balance and flexibility can give young children a sense of personal empowerment. Learned young, this incredibly valuable lesson arms kids with the tools to fight off the increasing feelings of self-doubt that come during the teen years and beyond.
6. Teaches Calming Techniques
Young kids deal with frustration most typically by crying and throwing tantrums. When they learn proper, healthy breathing techniques and tools to focus the mind, they begin to learn how to apply those tools in their everyday lives and to react appropriately to any situation…
7. Supports Positive Mental Health
All of the above benefits tie together. When children learn to accept and love themselves for who they are, to see the good in others, to focus and calm their minds, and to be aware of their innate capabilities, they learn tools for resilience.
They are more likely to be positive and optimistic about life and their abilities, and will hopefully be less likely to succumb to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that are so prevalent today.
Maybe most importantly, yoga teaches children that relaxation is not only allowed; it is encouraged. Relaxing is not easy and learning to relax takes practice. Yoga provides space for the mind to slow down and settle.
Children are always told that they need to be engaged and productive. Their little minds are leaping from one activity to another all day long, often right up until they crash at bedtime. Yoga teaches kids that it doesn’t have to always be like that.
If children can learn how to relax and be still, they will be able to handle better the stressors and pressures that will begin to hit them as they get older.
And as AZEarlyChildhood.org points out, yoga also…
8. Increases Body Awareness & Mindfulness
Going through a variety of yoga poses helps children learn about their bodies and the movements they’re capable of doing. This helps them to become more in tune with their bodies, and can lead to greater self-esteem as well as better health habits later in life.
9. Teaches Discipline & Reduces Impulsivity
Yoga can reduce challenging behaviors in the classroom by providing a physical outlet for children to express themselves. It also teaches children about discipline as they work on clearing their minds and perfecting their poses.
And of course, we all know how great yoga is at relieving stress! You may think your kids “have it easy” since they don’t have to worry about jobs, providing for the family, or financial matters, but in fact, kids in today’s world often face far more stress than most of us realize.
According to YogiApproved.com, here are 5 more important benefits of yoga for kids:
10. Reduces Stress & Anxiety
Improving mood also means reducing stress and anxiety. Those same endorphins that increase mood and affect also reduce stress and anxiety.
For kids, it is important that we teach them the balance between negative and positive emotions. When we are ready to let go of all of that negativity, practicing yoga helps to reduce stress and anxiety by relieving tension throughout the body, literally releasing the built-up negativity kids have stored within their bodies.
11. Improves Memory & Cognitive Functioning
Yoga helps to improve memory and cognitive function by creating focus within. Practicing yoga requires coordination of both the mind and the body. We have to pay attention to the movement of our bodies and how our breathing coordinates with those movements.
Some yoga poses, particularly balancing poses, require that you concentrate more than other poses.
When kids practice yoga, they are essentially practicing their ability to focus on the task at hand. In their day-to-day lives, this translates to better focus and cognitive functioning at school, leading to improved academic achievement.
12. Improves Social Relationships
Yoga is typically regarded as an individual activity. While that is partially true, there is a social component to yoga. We go to yoga classes with other people and take part in the yoga community where we can share our experiences with others.
For kids, the entire yoga practice is a social one. Yoga for kids typically includes songs, games, and other fun activities that get kids moving together and learning from one another, particularly with partner yoga poses. This creates a positive, engaging environment in which kids can have fun, talk to one another, and learn to trust one another.
Yoga also helps to cultivate increased self-esteem, self-confidence, and empathy within kids, which translates to more positive relationships with others by reflecting their positive attitude toward themselves onto others.
13. Increases Determination and Perseverance
Yoga is a fun activity for kids, in a non-competitive environment, in which they can learn new yoga poses and breathing techniques. When something is fun for kids, they always want to know more.
Kids also love the feeling they get when they master the thing they think they cannot do. For example, Crow Pose. While it’s so much fun for kids to practice, it can be difficult. But when they learn how to practice the pose and continue to practice it, they are very excited and want to show everyone the new thing they learned at yoga class!
This determination and perseverance leads to a feeling of excitement. When this happens, kids will do anything to keep that feeling. In their day-to-day lives, kids will learn that sticking with something, even when it is difficult, pays off and they will want to bring that feeling of excitement to other areas of their lives.
14. Improves Independence & Coping Skills
As mentioned above, yoga is both a social and individual activity. One of the benefits of practicing an activity that is both individual and social is that it helps kids to recognize what “individual” and “social” mean.
Kids rarely do things on their own. After all, they are kids! It’s up to us adults to make most of the decisions for them. However, it is still important that they learn how to do things on their own. Practicing yoga is a great way to introduce independence to your kids because their practice, and what they get out of their practice, is theirs and only theirs.
By increasing independence in practice, we are also helping kids to develop their coping skills. As kids, they will have the support of their family and the comfort of familiarity. But this changes as they grow into adolescence and adulthood – peer pressure, graduating high school, going to college, and getting their first “real” job.
It is important that kids learn how to be independent and cope on their own while they have the support and guidance from those around them. Otherwise, they will be left with no coping tools under their belt when the time comes for them to be on their own.
It’s pretty clear from all these benefits that yoga can be an extremely useful tool for children as well as adults! A regular yoga practice can benefit your children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. If you don’t want to or can’t do yoga at home with your kids, look into finding a children’s yoga class near you, or see if your school offers classes.
(Photo by Valeria Ushakova from Pexels.)