By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
School can be a busy, stressful place for kids. Academic demands placed upon young kids seem to keep growing. Schools across the country are trying to help students succeed by taking out many extra-curricular activities and arts classes so there is more time to focus on core subjects, like math, reading, and science. While this strategy may be beneficial for school ratings and test scores, it might not be the best for kids. Some schools are trying Yoga in the classroom as a way to teach children how to relax, focus, and re-energize throughout the day. The results are positive.
Students who are fortunate enough to practice Yoga during the school day have an overall better attitude. Studies have shown improvements in attitudes towards school and life in general. Many children and adolescents might feel moody or agitated throughout the day without recognizing the source of the negative energy. Yoga teaches students that they don’t have to carry all that stress around with them. Students learn specific ways to recognize and release stress and anxiety, resulting in a more positive attitude. Yoga helps by diverting the mind and body for a few moments, allowing students to focus on the breath or the body for a short time.
Yoga in schools also results in an overall improvement in the grades of students. Yoga gives students meaningful breaks during the day that re-focus and re-energize the mind. Breathing is a most powerful tool used by students and teachers to quickly gain more focus and energy. Everyone breathes, but Yoga teaches us to do it mindfully, deeply, and with purpose. When students learn this simple concept, it can produce startling results. Teachers can guide students in refocusing activities before a test, after sitting for a long period, or when students are feeling restless.
The health benefits of Yoga are seemingly endless. Students who participate in Yoga gain strength, agility, and flexibility, which can lead to weight loss and muscle gain. Yoga helps reduce symptoms of a number of common ailments that are often caused by stress, including headaches, digestive issues, and depression. More and more kids are being diagnosed with a variety of attention deficit disorders. Yoga can help reduce the symptoms of these types of disorders by giving students the necessary coping tools. Studies show an overall improvement in the health of students who practice Yoga on a regular basis.
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