The countless positive benefits of mindfulness and yoga for all ages have been being practiced and proven for thousands of years. These practices are used as a protection of the mind, to help give clarity and to keep inner peace. Adolescents will run into numerous stresses of varying degrees and may even develop mental illnesses throughout their lifetime. With all the important mental health benefits that yoga and mindfulness provide, why aren’t we teaching children this healthy and helpful tool early, before they run into these obstacles? Yoga and mindfulness should be used as important additions to every child’s coping skills.
Children today have growing amounts of responsibilities and expectations, all which can weigh on them heavily. Under this amount of stress, it could understandably be easy for them to become overwhelmed and burnt out. It’s important that we give them healthy outlets and coping mechanisms to work through their worries and problems. Yoga is low impact and strengthening. It is an exercise choice that promotes flexibility, relaxation, and focus. Yoga is an exercise that can be completed almost anywhere (including while traveling!) with minimal equipment. All most people will need to practice yoga are comfortable clothes, a water bottle, and a yoga mat! There are tons of types and classes of yoga for every level of yogi. Do some research and find the class that is right for you and your child.
Chandra Nanthakumar found that when children habitually practice yoga, they experienced feelings of decreased stress and anxiety. These children reported through their practices that they felt a comprehensive increase in resilience and well-being (Nanthakumar, 2018). Chandra Nanthakumar also reported that much less research has been conducted on children and mindfulness and yoga (Nanthakumar, 2018). The opportunity to begin teaching children these lifelong skill is there, and they are eager and very capable to learn! Yoga is a lifelong gift of positive coping skills and a perfect way to spend quality time with your children.
How to get started: talk with your doctor. Make sure that you and your child are a candidate to do this exercise and that neither of you have any sort of physical restrictions. After that, research yoga classes and facilities in your local area that can teach you the basics of yoga and how to practice safely. Make sure to eat a small healthy meal before your class and stay hydrated throughout! The most essential thing about staying healthy is finding an exercise you love and will stick with. But, the most important part of any exercise is staying safe and having fun!
I hope everyone finds a yoga class they love and can stick with and finds the happiest, healthiest version of themselves!
Nanthakumar, C. (2018). The benefits of yoga in children. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 16(1): 14–19. doi:10.1016/j.joim.2017.12.008