This article was written by Sandra Cobain - Child psychologist, mom of two, and ardent admirer of art, crafts & cooking. She is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she's not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.
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Childhood is fun. We think that the moon is following us wherever our car goes. We do not spit the chewing gum even after we have sucked the life out of it. We pee in the swimming pool. Oops… admitted it by mistake! Being weird without being high on drugs is one of the side-effects of childhood.
Let’s face it, before the intrusion of technology, we at least had a childhood, no matter how weird we acted.
Knock Knock… Any room for Yoga?
Technology — what was supposed to be a useful servant has now become a bad master. A one-minute task of switching off the alarm or checking an email leads to half an hour of browsing and scrolling through messages, pictures, and jokes. Before we know, study time, play time, and eating habits are already compromised. As parents, we plan so much for our kids, but not everything goes as per our plans. Given all the big plans you have for your kids, does yoga fit in it?
How Yoga is Spreading
Yoga is an excellent way to borrow “my time,” and feel loved, alive, and free from technology invasion. As they say, logout, shutdown, and do yoga. Interestingly enough, a growing number of kids are embracing yoga in their lives. Kudos to their parents! The National Center for Health School’s health blog reported that 1.7 million American kids are hooked to yoga. These numbers were from 2012. Getting caught by its growing interest, it won’t be an understatement to claim that the figures might have doubled by now. Hope you are not left on a cliffhanger dying to know the current numbers. Ok, let’s take a look at some current statistics.
Yoga by the Numbers
A study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance states that more than 36 million people practiced yoga in 2016 in the United States alone. Now, here’s the evolution part. Four years back, the numbers were around 20 million. Judging by its growth, we might hit 50 million in a year or two. Bingo! That would be a monumental feat by all means. After all, these are not mere data, but a positive endeavor in the right direction. We all know that yoga has been linked to our overall health and wellness. Since Yoga among kids is also on the rise, let’s explore some proven benefits of yoga for kids.
1. Encourages Self-Acceptance
There is no shortage of people in the real world that send out endless messages of lack and inadequacy. It’s easy for our kids to get sabotaged with these messages. As a result, they might grow up with feelings of self-doubt and lack of confidence. What may also follow is the ruthless job of masking the stinky feeling of frustration, pain, and anger. At best, we could only be a mere spectator to this event, especially when our kids have mastered the art of hiding their feelings from us. Don’t fret yet because this Satan of better life won’t be able to put up a battle against a much stronger opponent, ‘Yoga.’
Yes, yoga is a no bullshit approach to killing self-doubt at its roots. It helps one gravitate to a state of mind where one is comfortable being themselves. It arms kids with the right tools to break off the undesirable feeling of lack and self-doubt. Yoga clears all the clouded thoughts and allows the sun to shine once again by eliminating all the harbored negative thoughts and by killing the inner critics in a person. So, it pays to embrace yoga to eliminate the soul-sucking self-doubt from your kid’s life. There is no better way to morph oneself into a better and more confident person.
2. Physical Benefits
As reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five school going kids are obese. Damn! The obesity epidemic is on a ruthless trail. As we all know, obesity can have immediate as well as long-term impact on a kid’s social, physical, and mental wellbeing. Yoga can keep their bodies moving. With daily exercise, kids can derive a great deal of physical benefits such as reduction in weight, improved athletic performance, increased flexibility, better muscles, protection from injury, and healthier body metabolism.
Believe it or not, we have just scratched the surface over here. Truth be told, the health benefits of yoga are difficult to explain in a nutshell. We haven’t even talked about how it improves body posture, solves digestive problems, betters bone health, increases blood flow, drops blood pressure, relaxes our system, and so on. Not sold yet to roll out the Yoga mat for your kids? Okay, stay tuned as we introduce you to some more benefits of yoga for kids.
3. Living in the Present
Adults or kids, we are so tied to the past and future that we forget about the valuable ‘present.’ Believe it or not, most of us are doing a great disservice to ourselves by being trapped in the past and future. Yoga can help us take stock of the incredible power of the present. Yoga attends to our mind, body, breath, emotions, and soul. By sharpening our mind and through the awareness of the breath, it allows us to stay focused in the present moment. So, don’t quit yet. This is not the moment to step back.
By helping us conquer fear, tame desires, and defeat sadness, yoga can get rid of unnecessary stress and expectations that could be holding us back from living in the moment. Instead of dictating actions to our body, yoga coaches the mind on how to listen to our body in complete awareness without any judgments or expectations. Remember, this is not an easy state to attain. It could take a while for any yoga practitioner to get there. Therefore, it helps to start off early. By the time kids grow up, they would be a naturally present person.
4. Awesome Stress Tool
Just because you can’t see your kid’s thoughts, doesn’t mean that they cannot fall prey to stress. A study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey states that one out of every five kid in the United States suffers from some kind of mental problem. Remember, kids are not emotionally prepared or equipped to handle stress like adults. They often fail to detach themselves from the source of stress, so they could react oddly in certain situations.
Practicing yoga can prove to a great outlet to disburse stress. Health experts have long agreed that yoga releases happy endorphins—also investigated and confirmed by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Not to forget the fact that yoga incorporates several relaxing moments to calm one’s mind and body. Its proven calm relieving abilities provides both immediate as well as long-term benefits. So, don’t let the stress of daily life hold your kids back. They don’t deserve to lead a life filled with panic, anxiety, and trauma. Let the Yoga wand do its magic!
5. Improves Focus and Concentration
Today, our kids are bombarded with endless external factors that keep their mind scattered for the most part. Whether it’s Pokemon or any other fancy app, kids surrender to every other digital tool on the release date itself. Their focus and concentration appear nowhere in sight. As a result, their grades plummet. Our kids suffer in other areas of life as well, where focus and concentration are a necessary evil. Most parents are left with a grossed look on their face because they know that they are up against their worst enemy, ‘evil technology,’ which has already won the first round.
For the round two, it’s advisable to show up in the enemy’s territory with your companion, yoga. Yes, it’s proven that yoga has the ability to improve focus and concentration, so you are sure to win the upcoming battle. When kids learn how to stay glued to one place and focus on what’s important at the moment, they do not let their minds wander easily. Better yet, they do not get distracted by everything under the sun. This boosts their attention span like nothing else. With improved focus and concentration, they perform better in school and all other walks of life. So, there you have it, the elegant secret to better focus and concentration.
6. Fosters Non-Competitive Environment
The majority of us are raised with the belief that we cannot grow without cut-throat competition. Without competition, we are bound to be a lazy, mediocre bum in life. The worst part is that competition compels us to envy winners and feel marvelously bad about ourselves on losing a battle. On the other hand, healthy competition also brings out the best in us. Truth be told, competition is a double-edged sword. It has its share of good and bad elements.
Gladly, yoga is a non-competitive activity. So, there are no undesirable expectations, pride, or envy involved. Moreover, yoga keeps things in perspective. In yoga, kids are not taught to compare themselves with one another. People of all ages try to be the better version of themselves as opposed to being at each other’s throat. With a mix of young and old people, it’s more of a joyful, health beneficial environment without the competitive ruckus. It’s more of an inward journey of life that does not have room for an outward competitive drive.
7. Improves Mind-Body Coordination
Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means yoke or join. At its core, this 5000-year old art means union. A host of yoga poses fuels certain chemicals in our brain to promote inner peace and mental wellbeing as stated by a new study conducted by a UCLA-led team of neuroscientists. It’s the most effective union of the mind, body, and the soul to release boatloads of harmony, happiness, and good health. The mind-body synergy offers unparalleled benefits to a person. All yoga poses emphasize on deep, controlled breathing, which is an essential step to calm the mind and body to experience deep rooted benefits. Over the years, a growing amount of studies has proven the physical and mental benefits of mind-body exercises.
8. Sparks Creativity
When kids are allowed to do their own yoga poses, it inspires them to be creative in life. New possibilities emerge when kids are given such freedom. As a matter of fact, it proves to be one of the best forms of self-expression. It helps one generate positive energy to get motivated to access their limitless creativity. Not to forget the fact that studies have shown that mindfulness meditation has long been associated with creativity. So, creativity hasn’t vanished from our lives yet. Damn! Its use is on the extinct these days. Yoga helps to fill the gap over here by poking creativity out of our kid’s head.
9. Boosts Confidence
As kids master new poses with daily practice, it creates a flow between the mind and body, which radiates confidence. Remember, it all starts with baby steps, before the kids are able to do near-impossible poses. The humble start to praiseworthy feats imbibes a great deal of confidence in them. Since yoga allows enough opportunity to master a pose at one’s own pace, there is no room for frustration or disappointment. Even learning at a slow pace does not take a hit at one’s confidence level. Having mastered some poses in the past, they know that victory is only a few lapses away. All they need to do is keep moving.
10. Encourages Social Interaction
Yoga teaches kids that we are all the same from the inside, no matter how flashy a person may appear from the outside. Moreover, yoga inspires kids to be more patient, helpful, kind, and empathetic towards others. A person with such qualities is generally welcomed with open arms in a group setting. A study conducted by the University of Nottingham on kids showed that certain yoga poses encouraged togetherness, mutual caring, and a more positive attitude, which made social interaction an easy task.
Unlike other things that we have tried in the past, we are not paying a lip service to a good life by incorporating yoga in our kid’s life. With most children steadily falling prey to technology and illness, it won’t be an understatement to claim that yoga is the cornerstone of active and healthy living. Not to forget the value of happiness, satisfaction, and self-worth it generates.
So, it pays to be a “go-getter” and head shopping for a yoga mat to set the path for a yoga routine in your kid’s life. It would prove to be one of the best decisions of your life. Even if were to derive 10% of the benefits outlined above, the time spent on yoga would be fully justified.