By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Yoga can do remarkable things for children. It allows them to take a break from often over-stimulated days, giving them a much-needed break from every day anxiety. Yoga teaches us to relax and bring our focus inward, which are valuable and lifelong coping skills. It teaches us to focus on getting rid of negative energy within our bodies – replacing it with a steady positive energy flow. It shows children that they are in control of their feelings, as well as their bodies; and if they do not like how they feel, they actually have the power to change it. Along with the physical benefits that Yoga provides, children can reap other benefits, such as enhanced attention spans, improved concentration, and a better ability to focus.
The life of the entire family is often too busy to spend much time unwinding together, or even at all. Many kids today are stressed out by too many commitments and not enough time allowed for just being a kid. Too many children have learned to plop themselves in front of the television to decompress after a long day. A healthier choice would be to unwind by closing off from all of the stimulation for a while. Yoga can do this for children.
Children, who practice Yoga, learn to live in the moment, for a period of time. They learn to forget about everything else that is going on in their lives – to stop and listen to their bodies. While learning any Yoga posture, children must concentrate on their bodies and muscles, feeling their muscles elongate and stretch. The focus, required by Yoga practice, will then transfer to other areas in the lives of children.
The deep and controlled breathing (pranayama) associated with Yoga is extremely valuable, and can be transferred to other aspects of life. Children, who practice Yoga, learn to breathe completely by filling up their abdomens and lungs and letting the air out deliberately. When children learn how to breathe properly, they can use it to instill a deeper focus on any project. When a child feels nervous before a test or a big sporting event, stressed out about issues with friends, or unable to concentrate on a school lesson, proper Yogic breathing can help.
Yoga can be an effective way to enhance a child’s attention span over time. It is not a miracle cure. Kids must be willing to practice Yoga on a regular basis and apply the lessons toward daily life. If a child is willing, however, he or she will acquire an enhanced attention span and many more valuable life skills.
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