I almost hesitate to suggest that parents add one more thing to the schedules of already overbooked kids, but research says a regular yoga session might help kids cope with the demands of their busy lifestyle.
Finding a healthy outlet for stress and anxiety is especially beneficial for kids because higher stress levels lead to fatigue and lower concentration at school and at home. Yoga with its emphasis on breathing and centering techniques might be just the thing to help kids find a healthy balance in their hectic lives.
Is it even possible to encourage a group of squirmy kids to improve coordination and posture by balancing on one foot? The secret is turning the yoga exercises into a game and kids learn the new skills quickly. In other words, make yoga fun. Classes for older kids and teens include fewer games and focus on lowering stress while building self confidence.
Yoga classes are a new trend in schools, hospitals, and yoga studios according to an article by Emily Glazer on WSJ.com by helping kids "relax and focus, and improve their flexibility." The WSJ.com video below explains how yoga classes for kids help:
According to Sheknows.com, yoga can provide kids with the tools to deal with stressful situations:
Yoga can provide much-needed centering techniques for kids with busy lives, experts say. "The benefits are many and basically it’s not only settling the foundation for a life of health and well being but it gives them the tools to deal with stressful life (events)," says Laurie Jordan, who manages children's programs for The Kaia Yoga Complete Wellness Centers.
Regular yoga sessions can improve concentration and overall health, but does yoga really lead to higher test scores and improve fitness in schools? Researchers at California State University in LA in 2003 studied the relationship between yoga and academics. According to msnbc.com, researchers studied a charter school where students practiced yoga almost everyday:
Researchers found a correlation between yoga and better behavior and grades, and they said young yogis were more fit than the district average from the California Physical Fitness Test.
Tumbling and gymnastics classes for young kids have been popular for decades. Now more parents are signing young kids up for yoga classes because yoga stretching and body alignment improves overall health with the added benefit of possibly helping improve other athletic pursuits. According to an article on Chicagotribune.com (via Detroit Free Press):
A preliminary study of pediatric health benefits of yoga, published in 2008, finds motor skills and concentration improvements, on top of better posture and breathing.
Apparently yoga is for all ages--even the diaper set. A selection of yoga classes and yoga DVD sets designed for young children and their families are reviewed by Shivani Vora in the Cranky Consumer blog on WSJ.com. A DVD mentioned in the blog is the Yoga Kids series for kids ages 3 to 6.
You can even connect with other parents interested in yoga for kids at the Yoga Benefits Kids Facebook page.
(The wonderful yoga photo above is by Carl Lender.)