By Fredrica Syren
Doctors already agree that practicing yoga and meditation can be very helpful to our health, but now the question is whether or not it can be beneficial to children in school as well. The answer is yes. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, putting these practices into schools could make the difference between failure and success for kids dealing with extreme stressors, traumas and abuse.
As a yoga teacher, I have witnessed the overall change and benefits yoga can bring to anyone dealing with stress. I firmly believe that bringing yoga to schools would be helpful for all children, but especially for those who might be dealing with attention and behavioral challenges. As matter a fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) support the idea of children’s participation in activities that support their development, which is what yoga does.
You can read the Forbes article about how “a group of American and Canadian scholars, researchers, businesspeople, and yoga teachers came together for a weekend at Omega Institute to discuss how this group of practices that helps us self-regulate as individuals could, quite possibly, help us regulate on a society level. The issues the country is facing – the massive dropout rate of school kids, substance abuse among all age groups, PTSD among veterans, the staggeringly high incarceration and recidivism rates – cost the country volumes in human potential, not to mention trillions in dollars. There are no single solutions, but the evidence suggests that some or all of these problems may be amenable to the practices that have been shown to re-direct attention, improve concentration, increase self-control, and endow people with reliable and healthy coping mechanisms in the face of stress and trauma.”
Having regular yoga practice for kids at an early age would be a simple, cost effective tool to help with many of the issues faced by today’s children. Yoga is about finding stillness and breath in a present moment. It teaches children about compassion, patience and good relationships with others. Kids’ yoga helps create self-esteem and body awareness with physical activity that is noncompetitive. This is just what kids need to support their growing bodies, mind and spirits.
Bringing yoga to schools will benefit all kids. We should see it as an investment in our future since children are our future. We should give them the tools to succeed and to be confident leaders. The payoff will be tremendous.