The American Osteopathic Association along with many other health organizations and professionals encourage yoga as a great way to increase flexibility, balance, muscle strength, circulatory health, athletic performance, and respiration as well as support weight management and stress reduction.
Yoga integrates meditation and breathing techniques which can relax the mind, increase body awareness, relieve chronic stress patterns, and sharpen concentration. Most yoga classes are for adults, however a new study published in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management from Tulane University highlights the benefits of yoga for kids.
Researchers focused on third graders at a New Orleans public school who showed symptoms of anxiety at the beginning of the school year. 32 students received counseling and other activities from the school’s social worker while 20 students participated in an 8 week mindfulness yoga class. Sessions included breathing exercises, several traditional yoga poses appropriate for kids, and guided relaxation.
At the end of the study students who participated in the mindfulness yoga classes showed improved emotional and psychosocial quality of life compared to the students who received the standard care from the social worker.
Following the results of the study teachers in the school started using yoga in the classroom throughout each day in class an reported benefits with their students. Researchers state kids even younger than third grade can experience stress and anxiety, especially around test time, and yoga may be therapeutic for kids of all ages.