Let me talk about the yoga cards because yoga is such a powerful way for kids to learn to be in tune with their body, to self-regulate and to calm the mind.
School-based yoga programs are sweeping the nation, and studies show that students of all ages are reaping significant benefits.
I remember one year, I did yoga with my class. It was the year we had an increase in physical fitness minutes. And the classroom teacher was responsible for making up the time. So I did yoga and Tae Bo, and Jillian Michaels videos with my kids. It was so fun. And what a difference it made with the class as a whole and for individual students. Some didn't love it. LoL, But overall it really made an impact. So I want to share 5 benefits to incorporating yoga into your classroom, as well.
5 Revolutionary Benefits of Yoga for Kids
1 Reduces Stress and Teaches Self-Regulation
In today’s fast-moving world, kids who struggle with self-regulation and or sensory overload, have a difficult time self- regulating. Cool down spots and yoga can be just the place and activity for monitoring, recharging, and preparing children for reentry. Your goal is for kids to re-enter as quickly as they can. It is essential to allow each child to take the necessary time to regulate, and this time is different for each child.
When kids (and adults) are stressed, it manifests physically through tension, usually in the lower back or neck. As yoga relieves tension in the body, it also releases stress in the mind.
These already revolutionary benefits are associated with self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to recognize and manage your thoughts and emotions. Through yoga, children listen inward to their minds and bodies.
In this way, children learn to reflect on, recognize, and manage their emotions. Yoga also teaches calming techniques like deep breathing. When children can acknowledge and calm their feelings, they can respond effectively rather than reacting negatively.
So, if a child recognizes that she’s feeling frustrated about an assignment, she can take deep breaths, self-soothe, and find a healthy way to handle the situation like asking for help rather than throwing a tantrum right in the middle of class.
2 Increases Concentration
As they practice poses, children are encouraged to clear their minds and focus on the effort each pose requires. To achieve the pose or stay balanced, children must maintain a singular focus. That is one of the greatest gifts of yoga. At least for me. It gets me out of my own head. And that can feel like a true vacation!
When children practice focusing, they get better at the skill. And focusing is a skill, one in which we can all improve upon.
3 Improves Self-Esteem
Any time we are working on our bodies and being mindful of how we move and breath, we are working on feeling better about ourselves. We are learning to be kinder to ourselves, as well. That’s the beauty of yoga.
In kids’ yoga, children can move at their own pace. They do what feels natural and comfortable to them. It’s not about competing with other children, it’s about personal improvement through practice. As children learn to stand in stillness, touch their toes, or master increasingly advanced poses, their confidence grows.
4 Improves Self-Awareness
The metacognitive benefits of yoga are compelling. When a child learns how to better understand their thinking, they can work through any challenge life throws their way.
When children feel peaceful and aware of their thoughts, feelings, and actions, they’re able to act with compassion and courage, and they aren’t weighed down with worries about the past or the future. This is another beautiful thing about yoga. You learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. Self-awareness is a powerful type of mindfulness.
5 Improves Behavior
As you can see the benefits of yoga are revolutionary. It isn’t surprising that it’s linked to improved behavior and academic performance.
Yoga improves awareness, mood, and focus while reducing stress and anxiety. It teaches children to cope with big emotions in healthier ways. Ultimately, this translates to better behavior and performance in school.
A child who is angry, anxious, or unfocused isn’t ready to learn. When children feel less stressed, more confident, and can tap into and manage their emotions, learning comes easier.
My daughter Emily came home one day telling me that one of her girls had asked to use the calming corner. She wanted to share how she felt. She's only 4! Emily has already seen an improvement in how this sweet child responds to things that upset her. For me, that is a huge win.
If you want to hear more on this topic, come visit episode 10 of One Tired Teacher. For now, I think we should all grab our mats, stand in mountain pose, and let the healing begin!