So what about yoga and kids? Does it really help them focus and perform better in school? Does it leave them less stressed? Teresa Anne Power, author of The ABCs of Yoga for Kids, is Guest Blogging with us this summer and weighs in on the issue.
School stress is at an all-time high due to academic pressure to succeed, high-stakes testing, peer pressure, and elevated expectations placed on students. More and more schools are focusing on educating the whole child through anti-bullying, health and wellness, and character education to help alleviate the pressures mounting on kids. Yoga supports this learning, and can help kids perform better at school by helping to reduce stress.
Benefits of yoga and kids.
Many benefits of yoga support the education of the whole child, and in turn aides the learning process. For instance, yoga provides students healthy ways to balance and express their emotions. Elementary school kids are still learning how to handle aggression and how to control their urges and emotions; yoga builds self-regulation and self-esteem.
Furthermore, yoga promotes calmness and eases stress, which is the ideal state for teaching and learning. By easing anxiety and tension, yoga can help kids with pre-test or performance jitters. It also brings students into the present moment, and helps with focus and concentration – this is essential for better performance at school. For instance, simply holding Tree pose is very effective in helping students focus and develop their attention. With their feet firmly planted on the ground and their mind focused on breathing, it is much easier to feel a sense of control over themselves and of their surroundings.
Image Credit: Illustration by Kathleen Rietz and adapted from The ABCs of Yoga for Kids
Some additional benefits of yoga and kids include creating a calmer classroom setting where students are more respectful of themselves and others, and also an environment supporting social and emotional learning. Yoga also improves posture; this helps students to sit comfortably for longer periods of time.
Yoga is a noncompetitive form of exercise, as not only are the poses meant to be practiced at one’s own individual pace, but they also can be done by children of all ages and sizes and varying degrees of athletic ability. In sum, yoga helps develop discipline, heightens body awareness and self-control, helps children gain strength and flexibility, increases the ability to concentrate and focus, helps kids feel empowered, and helps them stay calm (even kids with ADD or ADHD). All told, this translates into healthier minds and bodies, not to mention better performance at school.