Odds are when you think of ‘yoga” you tend to think of postures or asanas and, therefore, associate the benefits of yoga with physical well being alone. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” that means to unite. The practice of yoga is known to bring about a perfect harmony between the mind and the body. Here are some of the many benefits that yoga can bring for children and why yoga in schools is imperative:
1. Reduces Stress & Anxiety
With children living in a world of academic pressures, intense competition, peer pressure, instant gratification, and more, stresses and strains are a reality. What yoga helps to do is to calm the mental chatter. By focusing on the breath, it promotes mindfulness and helps children live in the moment. With a relaxed state of mind, children can navigate life’s challenges with comparative ease. In fact, school-based yoga can help students cope with negative life events such as troubles at home or low grades.
2. Improves attention span & memory
The need and importance of yoga in education also follows from the fact that it helps in improving concentration and attention span. With yoga helping to improve memory function, its direct impact can also be seen in the child’s academic performance. In fact, yoga has also been seen to bring benefits to children suffering from ADHD by reducing its core symptoms such as inattentiveness and hyperactivity.
3. Physical Well-Being
Yoga is known to enhance flexibility, strength and coordination. Apart from enhancing muscle flexibility, strength yoga can also help with weight loss and improve body posture. Regular Yoga practice has also been associated with optimizing body functions like respiration, heart rate, lowering of blood pressure, keeping cardiovascular health problems at bay and more. Today childhood obesity has become a potent problem on account of the increase in consumption of junk food and a sedentary lifestyle. Yoga helps children counter these adverse effects and lead a healthy and energetic life.
4. Improves the quality of sleep
With the meditative quality of yoga and it allowing the mind to relax, research shows that yoga practitioners report improved sleep. In fact, yoga is a terrific way to release everything you are holding onto mentally and physically. This improves both the quality and duration of sleep. In turn, a good night’s sleep allows the body to be healthy and energetic for the next day. Children can therefore focus better in class as well as play more actively.
5. Boosts Self-Esteem and Resilience
Yoga also helps children to love and respect their bodies, something that is extremely important for children who are continuously being bombarded with irrational messages and warped body image ideas.
Research shows that apart from contributing to physical and mental well-being, yoga also improves self-regulation skills and adds to resilience. Now, the importance of developing a whole generation of resilient adults cannot be overstated. This, when we live in a milieu where stress and anxiety are becoming the norm instead of an exception and where suicide rates in students are reporting a steady increase.
With yoga, children learn to adapt their emotions and behavior in response to internal cues as well as the external environment. In fact, research also suggests that yoga helps in controlling problem behaviors such as bullying in children. With self-regulation and improved self-esteem acquired through the practice of yoga, instances of bullying and other problem behaviors can be controlled.
To Sum Up
Practicing yoga is akin to taking a mindful pause during the day and hitting the reset button. Not only does it translate into better academic outcomes but also improved holistic growth & development. In fact, schools in Gurgaon that have included yoga as an essential element of their learning process, report a greater sense of harmony in students and connectedness in the community. Its benefits are also seen to reach beyond the students to impact teacher effectiveness and the overall classroom climate as well.
It is safe to say that as the uptake for yoga in schools continues to expand, it will help students cultivate social, emotional, and physical health, academic success; and an overall positive school climate. Of course, the yoga curriculum needs to be well formulated in terms of content and needs to be graded so that there is progressive growth.