Yoga’s Relationship to Children’s Health

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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