Hatha Yoga is an ancient series of physical postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques, which help to balance and rejuvenate the entire body-mind system. Practicing Yoga, on a regular basis, can tremendously support children’s health, both physically and emotionally. A regular practice of Yoga, in the range of one to five times a week, has been shown to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, heighten self-esteem, and lower stress and anxiety levels that can contribute to the development of depression.
Yoga for Children’s Health
Due to the over use of television and computer technology, childhood obesity is at an all-time high in many developed countries around the world. In fact, childhood obesity has become one of the most critical health issues children are facing in the world today. Just getting children “on the mat” and actively participating in a structured exercise program, will help them to lose unwanted pounds, feel healthier, and boost their self-esteem.
Yoga can be adapted to any age range of children and many different levels of ability. In this way, a great Yoga class can be modified and tailored for a group of first-grade students, or a group of high-school age students, and beyond. On a purely physical level, the physical postures (or asanas) of Yoga, help children to develop good coordination skills, enhance somatic capabilities, burn calories, while increasing strength and flexibility.
Yogic Solutions for Lowering Stress in Children Today
In today’s fast-paced world, many children feel a significant amount of stress in school and at home. There is a lot of pressure on children and teenagers to keep pace with the increasing speed of life and to do more and more tasks in less time than generations before them. Slowing down enough to practice Yoga postures, breathing exercises, a few minutes of meditation or relaxation techniques, will help children to feel more grounded and less anxious about the pressures in their lives.
A vigorous Yoga practice will help children to release excess energy and feel exhilarated. A Yoga practice that is fun and challenging will also help to lower the high levels of stress hormones that can compromise their emotional, mental, and physical health. As children’s stress levels decrease, they will be more able to focus on their school work and will gain perspective on issues that are causing them anxiety and stress. Some of these issues may require outside therapeutic support. Other issues may be resolved, without outside support, as a child’s brain chemistry is re-balanced and an overactive nervous system is calmed by a regular practice of Yoga.
While there are issues regarding the safety of unsupervised Hatha Yoga practice by children, the risks pale in comparison to other physical activities. It would be wise for parents to expose children to gentle forms of Yoga in a supervised environment. Seeking out a competent Yoga teacher, who specializes in teaching children, is a must. Parents, who are serious Yoga practitioners, may find a family practice to be fulfilling; and this is healthy for family bonds. However, children need to socialize in a less competitive environment. For this reason, specialized Kids Yoga classes give children a sanctuary from multi-tasking.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, has written many books on the subject of Yoga. He is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. He has been a certified Master Yoga Teacher since 1995. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/
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