Yoga Helps Kids Focus and Relax
American kids’ school, after-school and weekend schedules now rival the hectic pace of their multitasking parents. Like their adult counterparts, youngsters need time to decompress from the pressures of life and be present in their own skin, and yoga provides the tools to accomplish this.
Most adults take to their yoga mat to create harmony in their body and mind, increase flexibility and balance, build muscle tone and strength, and because it makes them feel great. These same benefits apply to children as their developing bodies and minds respond to yoga on a deep level, both on and off the mat.
Start with Watching Breath
“Breathing and mindfulness practices are important for children,” explains Mariam Gates, the Santa Cruz, California, creator of the Kid Power Yoga Program and author of Good Morning Yoga and the upcoming Good Night Yoga. “There is so much that children are not in control of in their everyday lives; to give them a way to physically process their experience, to self-soothe and find their own internal source of strength, is crucial.”
“Having kids experience simply paying attention to their breath as it comes all the way in and moves all the way out can serve them well in every area of their lives going forward,” says Gates. In the classroom, it transfers to learning skills benefited by the ability to focus.
From toddlers to teens, children can have a difficult time processing and controlling their emotions, which are vital life skills. Carla Tantillo, founder of Mindful Practices, a Chicago-area wellness organization, has found that yoga and the practice of mindfulness help children express themselves in constructive ways. She observes, “In any situation, especially in communities where reactivity, impulsiveness and violent solutions are modeled, yoga empowers children to pause and take a breath so they can own what’s happened, move through it and move on.” READ MORE