Approximately 7% of children between the ages of 3-17 suffer from anxiety. Depression affects about 5% of American children and adolescents.
During the ages when kids are supposed to be being...well, kids, they are, instead, inundated with societal pressures, bullying, the unending pressures of school and standardized testing, and the constant push to do all the things that will make them competitive in the college application process or in the job market.
That’s not even taking into account their home life stressors.
It’s no wonder children and adolescents are increasingly breaking rules, acting out, and not coping well with their life in or out of school.
These days being a kid is complicated at best.
Bringing a regular yoga practice into schools would not only improve the mental, physical, and emotional health of the students, it could also prevent or stop bullying, drug use, and deviant behavior.
Let’s take a look at exactly how yoga can save our schools and what exactly it does to help make everyone’s life better.
It should come as no surprise that marginalized, poverty-stricken children are at higher risk of anxiety, depression, suicide, drug use, and crime than other demographics.
These children are often not equipped to handle the pressures that come with their lack of support. They also aren’t usually given the tools to cope with the challenges in their lives. And so begins their decline in health.
Bringing yoga into the classroom gives students coping mechanisms to better handle stressful situations, teaches them how to self-soothe in a healthy way, and can prevent the thoughts that lead up to negative behaviors and health.
Here are just a few ways research shows yoga helps kids battle anxiety and depression:
Yoga releases the same “feel-good” chemicals in children as it does in adults.
Practicing yoga teaches kids how to regulate their emotions.
Yogic breathing techniques help kids manage their anxiety better or eliminate it.
Yoga improves self-esteem and promotes body confidence.
Yoga and meditation is a tool kids can use anywhere at almost any time.
The bigger picture is not only the fact that yoga helps kids feel better, cope better, regulate their emotions, and reduces the risk of depression, suicide, drug use, and crime.
These effects create a ripple effect.
Happier students mean happier teachers. It means more learning, more productive members of society. Lower suicide rates would mean a relief for emergency medical services, police departments and fire departments. Reduce the likelihood of drug use, and our entire society benefits, not just the child.
Yoga is powerful. Meditation is powerful. And they can be used to save lives or, at the very least, be used as tools in conjunction with other forms of support to help kids be and do better.
If you haven’t read our post on 5 Proven Ways Meditation Positively Affects Brain Behavior, you can click that link and go check it out.
Research has increasingly shown that yoga improves cognitive performance in children and adults alike. This is huge, especially for kids who struggle with focus, concentration, and memory. Children with ADD and ADHD particularly struggle with these things.
However, children who don’t get enough sleep, aren’t well fed, are abused or neglected, or are homeless are also sure to suffer from lack of focus and retention.
There are a multitude of reasons a child or adolescent struggles with cognitive impairments. Whatever the reason, yoga improves focus and memory in children and adolescents.
Yoga teaches children how to concentrate on the movement of their body, their breath, and how to get those two things to work together seamlessly. It also teaches them how to calm their central nervous system, let go of things in their lives they can’t change and focus on things they can, and eases tension that may prevent them from learning.
The more tools schools give children to help them learn, grow, and thrive, the better off the child is and the better off society (and the school) is!
In today’s world, children aren’t sent outside to play until the street lights come on. They don’t ride their bikes all over town, and many no longer participate in sports or physical extracurricular activities.
Screen time prevails.
Phones, computers, gaming consoles, tv’s. Kids are obsessed with social media and YouTube. And, while screens can be a healthy outlet, they are turning into kids’ only outlet.
Screen time only got worse with the rise of the pandemic. It was a means to communicate, connect, and stay sane for children and adults.
Bringing yoga into the schools provides an excellent source of fun physical activity. Many children don’t get the proper amount of exercise. Not to mention, sitting at desks all day, focusing, staying still and paying attention is not easy or healthy for long periods of time.
Kids need to move their bodies!
Yoga is a physical activity suitable for all children and adolescents of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities. Fostering their health and fitness leads to adults who care more about their health. This not only prevents illness and disease but alleviates some of the stress on our healthcare systems.
MyYogaTeacher supports the inclusion of yoga whenever and wherever possible. While we hope that, one day, yoga will become the norm in classrooms across the country, we understand that progress takes time. In the meantime, if you and your family are interested in trying out, starting, or continuing a regular yoga practice, check out MyYogaTeacher! We offer 35+ group classes taught by expert yoga instructors from the birthplace of yoga, India. And we truly care about your continued health and wellbeing!
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