Yoga’s Relationship to Children’s Health

By Bobbi-O

Yoga and it’s relation to children’s health is as follows: with all kinds of computer games, and many other electronic games in the market, kids these days don’t exercise that much anymore, and have very poor diets. Add this to the stress they get from school and how they go home after school and become couch potatoes. We have kids who slowly lose their flexibility, with no desire to leave their comfort zones; their homes. Kids slowly have lost flexibility because of all the sitting and no physical activities or exercise. Having stiff muscles can lead to injuries and other muscle pains.

Yoga for kids is an excellent alternative since it will help them increase their flexibilities. Yoga for kids is different from yoga for adults. Instructors would create a story based on the animals or a situation and incorporate yoga into it. Let’s say you pose like a frog, a snake, a cat or even like a tree. The kids don’t only get to do those poses but they’re also asked to imagine what it feels like to be like those great animals. They connect more to nature and divert their attention away from all the stress that they deal with everyday. As well as using their imaginations and creativity. In addition, they can easily adapt and cope with stressors. Let’s take having an exam as an example or even being harassed by other kids. The child may use meditation or breathing techniques to help him/her calm down and focus.

In yoga, the child is given different postures and told to breathe in a certain way. The child learns how to control him/herself to be able to achieve these techniques. They are their own masters and they learn more about themselves at a very young age. In addition, if they have that “I can do it” attitude then they will realize that when they learn them, they can control themselves, they can reach their dreams. Their self esteem improves and their mind set is in a positive mode making them feel good about themselves.

Yoga is proven to improve self-esteem, physical and mental health and grade point averages among children. In a Gaiam-funded study of kindergarten through 8th-grade students in an inner-city school, researchers from CSU examined the correlation between yoga and academic performance, discipline, attendance and self-esteem. The 2003 study showed a 20 percent increase in students who felt good about themselves — and a 6 percent increase in classroom discipline scores, indicating that students who had high participation in yoga class also had fewer referrals or discipline problems. In addition, while the increase in average GPA was not provided, the study showed a “statistically significant” link between yoga participation and better grades.

Yoga for kids is about having fun and not about competing with others, unlike soccer or football. It’s not about whether you are right or wrong in doing a pose. It’s about learning about yourself and how far you can take yourself.

Yoga develops physical fitness; it develops strength, flexibility and concentration, confidence, and movements that develop eye-hand coordination and motor skills.

Age appropriate yoga poses are vital, as well as breathing techniques, meditation, and relaxation will offer a child insight and knowledge to the physical and philosophical traditions of yoga. Kids learn that Yoga leads to creativity, self-acceptance, how to follow directions, interpersonal skills, and intrapersonal, positive thinking, personal & environmental awareness and a pocket full of fun.

Yoga offers many possibilities to exchange wisdom, share good times, and lay the foundation for a lifelong practice that will continue to deepen.

A study conducted by Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner, an author and professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, describes eight intelligences innate in all of us—linguistic, logical, visual, musical, kinesthetic, naturalistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal—and emphasizes that children should be given the opportunity to develop and embody a Yoga can help counter all pressures. When children learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can cope with life’s challenges with a little more strength. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that’s noncompetitive.

University of Michigan pediatrician Dolores Mendelow says yoga, if done properly, is a suitable alternative to tumbling and team sports for getting stressed-out, sedentary children socializing, exercising and building discipline.

“It requires practice, patience and accepting of self-limitations,” she said.

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.

At Providence Hospital, yoga is integrated into strength-building exercises for children with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, who often lack muscle tone and breathe weakly.

“The younger kids, with most yoga poses, we try to find a name that relates to the pose to make it fun,” she said.

Yoga stretching and body alignment can create a better athlete, said Michigan State University strength coach Mike Vorkapich. Players use back and arm movements to improve strokes and pitches, he said.

Listening improves too, said Jennifer Hayes, an MSU yoga teacher. She sometimes teaches without demonstrating postures. She hears this all the time: “Wow, this is harder than I thought.”

Inconclusion,Yoga incorporates storytelling, games, music, language, and other arts that engage the “whole child.” Yoga embraces ecology, anatomy, nutrition, and life lessons that echo yogic principles of interdependence, oneness, and lots of fun. Most of all, engages the entire mind, body, and spirit in a way that honors the child’s way of learning.

Yogis have always lived close to the natural world and used animals and plants for inspiration. When children imitate the movements and sounds of nature, they have a chance to get inside another being and imagine taking on its qualities. The physical movements introduce kids to yoga’s true meaning: union, expression, and honor for oneself and one’s part in the world. When they stretch like a dog, or balance like a tree, roar like a lion, or stand strong like a mountain, they are making a connection between the macrocosm of their environment and the microcosm of their bodies. The importance of reverence for all life and the principle of interdependence will become transparent.

Doing yoga, children exercise, play, and use their imagination; they connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the nature and the world that surrounds them. Yoga brings that marvelous inner light that all children have out to a visible surface. Children need to discover the world on their own. There is no doubt that Yoga and it’s relation to health is boundless world of wonder and exploration. Yoga balances, harmonizes, purifies and strengthens the body, mind and soul of the practitioner. It shows the way to perfect health, perfect mind control and perfect peace of one’s self. If you start at an early age, you are far beyond years for a perfect blue print of a lifetime of good health.

What better gift to give a child, the greatest gift, is the one that I can give to a child, YOGA.

Bobbi-O has created a quiz on line for kids to take as well as adults.

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And you thought yoga was just stretching…

I was asked the other day, “Why don’t you just join a gym”? My answer was that along with the occasional walk outdoors, yoga is all that I need. His response was predictable: “Yoga…isn’t that just stretching?”

I smirked at the familiarity of the question and proceeded to explain to him the theme of this article. As I told him and for those who may not know otherwise: No, Yoga is way more than just stretching or getting into supposedly awkward looking poses and positions.

It is a combination of stretching, breathing exercises, meditation and perhaps the most overlooked limb, adherence to a proper diet.

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as a “union” or a method of discipline. Its ultimate goal is the union of man with God or the universe in one breath. Furthermore, it aims to liberate the spirit as the mind and spirit are equally involved in its practice.

Yoga is indeed the oldest existing physical-culture system in the world. Besides being a systematic and scientifically proven path to attaining physical fitness, it delays aging, rejuvenates and improves one’s appearance, maintains suppleness and increases vitality and the creative part of life.

With its core warm-up exercises known as the Sun Salutations, the inversion poses, forward and backward bending poses, balancing exercises for the arms and building focus, the average practitioner will attest to the fact that for attaining fitness, Yoga can stand its own.

Think Yoga can’t help with building strength? Think again. I challenge the most adept body-builder to hold the simple yet powerful peacock-pose for 90 seconds straight.

Yoga also offers unique breathing exercises which are wonderful for patients with respiratory disorders and even singers and public speakers, moreover with its unique relaxation pose, often times practiced during and after its execution, Yoga offers a systematic means of deeply relaxing the entire body perhaps the way no other exercise can. (Keep in mind of course that several of the poses give a deep body massage not unlike the ones received in salons…just thought I should throw that in.)

With countless classes being offered for all ages, levels of fitness and experience, I suggest you give it a trial and see for yourself what it can do.

One thing I promise you is this; you will walk out of your class and nod in agreement that indeed: “yoga is way more than just stretching.” It is THE exercise.

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12 Healthy Living Tips to Keep that Post Yogic Glow

As a yoga teacher, many of my yoga students ask what they can do on a daily basis to cultivate and deepen their understanding of living a healthier yogic lifestyle.

Here, in no particular order are ten habits to adopt on a daily basis to keep you in the flow and maintain your inner yoga glow.

Top Ten Healthy Living Tips

1. As you wake up in the morning, spend the first few minutes in silence and quiet reflection. Quietly observe how you feel and make a conscious effort to gently stretch yourself awake and enjoy the feeling of being alive.

2. Take pleasure in the simple things in life – for instance, notice any random acts of kindness in yourself and others.

3. When you eat take a few moments to give thanks for your food, to acknowledge your role in the whole food cycle process and to eat with a sense of reverence and respect for your food.

4. Acknowledge others, take time to say please and thank you, especially thank you, at every opportunity you can.

5. Be genuine and thoughtful in the way you speak and listen. Give friends and family the space to talk and share what’s on their hearts, without imposing your opinions and comments.

6. Do some gentle yoga stretches every day. Spend 5 – 20 minutes practicing your favourite postures. Choose a time that suits you, maybe an early morning before you go to work sequence or a more calming routine before you go to bed.

7. Breathe. During your day, take time to take a break and breathe. A few rounds of deep yogic breathing will instantly revive and lift your spirits.

8. See the beauty and good in all situations. Sometimes life gets you down and you find it hard to feel upbeat and cheerful. That’s OK, just hold in your heart the truth that there is always beauty to be found in any situation. The saying every cloud has a silver lining is true.

9. Be spontaneous but not reckless, just allow yourself the space and time to follow your intuition and see where it leads. If the time isn’t right for you to jump up and down in puddles, then just close your eyes and imagine yourself doing it instead.

10. Keep your heart open to love. Life has a way of shutting you down, or making you close your heart and put the thorns up. You only have one life, so take a chance on love.

11. Be creative. What childhood passion have you let go of? Reclaim your childhood hobbies and who knows, you could even make it a business opportunity.

12. Give yourself a hand and mini facial massage before going to bed. Enjoy the sense of calm and relief as you massage your daily cares away and invite calm and tranquillity into your sleep.

As you can see, there are numerous ways in which you can recapture and retain that post yogic bliss in your everyday life. Start small, maybe just pick two or three of the above healthy living tips and see what a difference it makes to your sense of well being and vitality.

Blessings From Ntathu Allen, Yoga and Meditation Teacher.

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Welcome to Yoga Garden’s Blog!

Namaste. We look forward to posting hot yoga topics, educational articles, training videos, interviews and more. This is not a venue to promote our studio – that is what our website is for! – but to educate our students and to provide a forum for all of us to share our views, comments, requests, and to promote a sense of community. We hope to hear you here soon! Om Shanti Om.

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