Yoga For Kids
Being a bit of a spaz, devastatingly inflexible, and struggling with that whole "core strength" thing, I always knew that yoga would be good for me. Two years ago I finally got the courage to do one of those promotional things for a month. It kind of destroyed me, but within weeks I was touching my lower shins for the first time in decades. I'm sure I would have kept making progress if I didn't accidentally take an advanced crazy hot class dressed rather warmly and get mild heat stroke.
While it might not be right for me, there's a growing body of research that shows yoga can have pretty amazing benefits for kids. One 2009 study found that found that inner-city fourth and fifth graders who did yoga once a week for one hour for twelve weeks had better balance and fewer negative responses to stress than other kids. (1) A 2015 review went even further, looking at sixteen studies of yoga's effect on anxiety in kids between ages three and eighteen. (2) Nearly all the studies showed a significant reduction in anxiety for kids who did yoga. Finally, a similar review of eight studies in 2015 looked at the effect of yoga (and some other types of exercise) on common problems faced by kids with ADHD. (3) Pediatricians and parents are always looking for new treatment options other than medicine, and the kids in the study showed improvement in focus, hyperactivity, and social problems.
No one knows for sure why yoga is so beneficial for kids, but maybe it's bit of an antidote to the hectic, technology-driven lives we pass on to our kids. Being still and focusing on our breathing and bodies certainly isn't something that comes naturally nowadays. And you certainly don't need to sign your kid up for yoga classes - it's simple enough to do at home. kidsyogastories.com is an excellent website where you can find examples of yoga poses for kids and more resources.
1. Effects of yoga on inner-city children's well-being: a pilot study. Berger DL et al. Altern Ther Health Med. 2009; Sep-Oct;15(5):36-42.
2. Systematic review of yoga interventions for anxiety reduction among children and adolescents. Weaver, LL, Darragh AR. Am J Occup Ther. 2015 Nov-Dec;69(6):6906180070p1-9. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2015.020115.
3. The effects of physical exercise in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized control trials. Cerrillo-Urbina J et al. Child Care Health Dev. 2015; Nov;41(6):779-88.