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February 26, 2016

MacKenzie Masten

Why Yoga is Important in a Child's Life

Topics: Creativity, Learning Through Play

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Yoga has been popping up everywhere in our world. Thanks to celebrity Instagrams, iPhone apps, and local studios, yoga has become something we see on a daily basis.

 

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There’s a reason for the recent boom in yoga’s popularity. Yoga has numerous mental, physical and emotional benefits, and those benefits are not just for adults. It’s no wonder there are over 1.7 million children under the age of 17 who have practiced or tried Yoga as of 2011.

Benefits of Yoga for Kids

Yoga is the practice of accessing and integrating all aspects of one’s body with the goal of gaining inner peace.  It enhances physical flexibility, refines balance and coordination, and teaches us pranayama (known as deep breathing).  Yoga trains the mind by helping to develop focus and concentration as well as a sense of calmness and relaxation. Yoga benefits people of all ages, not just adults. For younger practitioners, yoga is a great way to enjoy non-competitive physical activity, and it encourages self-esteem and body awareness.

Yoga in the Classroom

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Yoga has become popular in schools and after-school groups as a way to encourage children who shy away from physical activity and group activities. It teaches non-harming truthfulness, moderation, cleanliness, gratitude, and self-discipline. Multiple studies from ISRN Pediatrics, the Journal of Attention Disorders, et al. found that practicing yoga drastically decreases the side effects of Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD). ADHD has become increasingly prevalent in American society - as of 2011, 6.4 million children aged 4-17 have been diagnosed with it. Yoga is affordable and accessible to everyone, so it's no wonder teachers and parents are beginning to share their love of yoga with their children. By practicing yoga concepts such as deep breathing and controlled movements, children are able to center their emotions and energy levels, making it easier for them to concentrate in class.

Controversy in the Classroom

Yoga in schools has become a point of controversy in the last few months as yoga is a common practice in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Some people believe that the practice of yoga will teach the beliefs of the aforementioned religions to impressionable children. While the benefits of practicing yoga in the classroom are bountiful, parents are worried the wrong message will be taught under the guise of yoga. Personally I believe yoga can easily be taught in an appropriate, secular way for children. 

Practicing Yoga at Home

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While yoga is popping up in schools around the country it is just as quickly being banned from classrooms, leaving parents wondering how they can give their children the benefits of yoga without knowing yoga themselves. There are a number of resources parents can use to help their children gain the benefits from practicing yoga that are affordable and accessible.  Cosmic Kids Yoga is a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching kids about yoga through interactive adventures. TaraStiles is another YouTube channel that provides fantastic yoga tutorials for all ages. If you're interested in getting your family more involved with yoga Yoga Works is a great resource to find instructors and classes in your area.  

If you're looking to bring yoga home to the whole family ThinkFun, Inc. has just released a brand new set of yoga games that aim to get kids moving, stretching, thinking, and learning in order to help develop agile minds and bodies. Yoga Spinner

Not sure you and your family are ready to start practicing yoga? Get the whole family to try this simple Sun Salutation and see how much fun you have!

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