We all want our children to have the best possible start in life. But, we don’t always know how to help them. Social media can make it seem as if everyone else’s kids are more active, more social, more driven. Sometimes it can feel as though childhood is a race and your child is falling behind.
So, what do you do? Make them study more? Join more sports? Be more social?
The truth is that no matter what their external schedules looks like, childhood is a time of rapid physical, emotional, and mental growth for all children. More than anything, children need the tools to navigate these changes in a healthy way.
Here are some of the many ways that yoga can be beneficial to children of every stage of development.
Over 6 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. But, even kids without an official diagnoses can sometimes struggle with staying attentive. Several studies, including one by the National Association of School Psychologists, have shown yoga to be beneficial in improving focus and concentration in children.
Helps with self-regulation
Even things that may seem minor to adults can feel monumental to children. One of the most important skills they can acquire is learning to maintain self-control through challenges.
Yoga is, by nature, a contemplative practice. It integrates physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation techniques in a way that requires a high degree of self-control. Multiple studies have shown yoga to be very effective in helping children learn to self-regulate in and out of school settings.
Boosts mental health
While we often think of anxiety and depression as adolescent or adult issues, the truth is that more and more children are suffering from mental illnesses. In fact, 1 in 6 children aged 2-8 in the United States have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
While mental health is a multi-faceted issue without any one clear-cut solution, emerging research continues to prove how valuable yoga practice can be for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving overall mental health.
Builds strength and flexibility
Yoga can be a great option for kids who are reluctant to participate in organized sports. The stretches and movement offer many of the same physical benefits of competitive sports in a low-stress environment. Yoga has been shown to build children’s strength, increase flexibility, and even improve their energy levels.
Leads to better sleep
The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that sleep problems affect 25 to 50 percent of children and 40 percent of adolescents. Considering that sleep is essential to mental health, academic performance, and overall wellbeing, these statistics are alarming.
Research shows that practicing yoga can lead to better quality and more sleep in children and adolescents.
Encourages healthy eating habits
Our goal as parents is to help children learn to make good choices on their own. Opting for healthy foods is an important part of good decision making. Research has shown that yoga can have a significant impact on children’s dietary choices. In a study done by Project EAT, 90% of young adults indicated that yoga had a positive impact on their eating behaviors.
Introduces children to a mindful life
Living a mindful life means focusing on the present moment instead of allowing your brain to dwell in the past or race ahead to scary future scenarios. Mindful living has been shown to improve both mental and physical health.
Introducing your children to yoga at a young age will not only provide them with immediate benefits, but will also help set them on a path of lifelong mindfulness.