31 Proven Benefits of Yoga for Kids

Geoffrey Lions
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1: It’s a Fun Way to Relax

It’s accessible, affordable and fun. Yoga studios are popping up all over the place and yoga classes for kids are commonplace in most areas. There’s something about the movement and sounds that just makes kids sit down, shut up and be still, which is exactly what the doctor ordered for them. Research shows too, that yoga can be used as a tool for relaxation for all ages. It helps relieve stress, which is essential for growing bodies and minds.

Yoga and breathing exercises are also helpful for children that suffer from anxiety and stress. Yoga also assists with relaxation and calms the body and mind, leading to an overall sense of well being.

2: Helps Improve their Attention Span

And Focus:

Children in this day and age are easily bored and lose focus. This is because their brains have not yet developed to full maturity. They need new stimuli every now and then to stimulate their senses, and yoga can provide just that.

The mindfulness and concentration required during yoga practice help children focus better on the task at hand. Yoga also helps children enjoy the moment without being anxious about the next activity and will quiet the mind, which in turn reduces stress and negative emotions as well.

3: Encourages the Connection Between Body and Mind

In learning how to do yoga, kids will not only be able to learn physical poses.

But they will also be able to better understand how their bodies work on a whole new level, understanding how focusing on the breath or holding certain poses can make them feel, and connecting how that all relates to the mind.

What you can do about it:

4: Good for Balance

Balance means more than just being able to stand on one foot and not fall. It means keeping your mind and body together. And, one of the best ways to teach a kid how to stay mentally and emotionally balanced is for them to practice yoga, an ancient form of exercise that, in this day and age, makes a whole heck of a lot of sense.

Yoga literally means “union”, and when kids learn to practice yoga, they learn how to connect mind and body, which allows them to feel better, think better, and be better. When kids are faced with temptation, stress, or discord in their lives, they can use yoga as a device for emotional balance.

Remember, a yoga pose is not just about putting one foot behind you and bringing another in front; it is also about building healthy habits and learning to control yourself both physically and mentally.

Through yoga, kids learn how to keep their attention in the moment, breathe deeply, and listen quietly, which is why it makes for such a good mindfulness practice. When kids do yoga with others, they also practice how to develop friendships and how to understand themselves, which is all pretty dang awesome.

5: Increases Flexibility

__Most kids have to balance their school life, home life, and their social life, all while squeezing in specific activities like swimming, soccer, music lessons, and more. Practicing yoga helps your child improve their ability to maintain balance in all of these other areas. Yoga postures are designed to improve balance and flexibility, along with finding balance with oneself and maintaining harmony at home and in their social life.

Breathing is also very important in yoga, so it instills in them an awareness of their breath. They learn to breathe deeply and exercise control over their breath, and it cultivates an ability to be aware of themselves and their situation. More awareness creates more balance.

Whenever their feet or hands fall over in a yoga pose, they learn to bring it back into alignment. By learning to spot not only when they fall out of balance in life, but to correct it, yoga teaches your child to direct their own balance and harmony.

6: Builds Strength

Flexibility & Coordination.

Yoga’s mindfulness and breathing techniques help children focus. They help them develop greater mind-body awareness, which translates into greater ability to concentrate on physical activities like sports.

Performing certain poses with control helps kids develop strength, flexibility, and coordination.

In the right environment, yoga can also help foster a sense of community. Making new friends and working with them toward a shared goal is an important part of growing up.

The lessons of yoga are transferable and valuable for children of all ages. A child can learn this from a parent or teacher, or from friends his own age.

Yoga can also help kids see their efforts pay off. Doing a lot of hard work and then achieving a goal is a great lesson for them to learn. It gives them one more reason to try hard at other things as well.

7: Improves their Mental Wellbeing

Yoga teaches children focus and calmness, and all along and through the practice of yoga, children’s minds are developing and flexible. Even before they master sweeping movements of the arms or the alignment of their backbends, children are gaining a powerful experience of their minds; a quieting of their thoughts, which allows them to better open up to learning.

This ability to focus on themselves, rather than their surrounding environment, is an incredibly valuable skill for children to learn.

It enables them to be more in touch with their emotions, thoughts, and ideas. It also gives them the ability to control their own trajectory and make intentional decisions, which is a primary goal of yoga.

1: Improves their Physical Wellbeing

It is no secret that yoga helps children’s physical well being. Yoga helps with flexibility, strength, posture, disease resistance, and joint health. Yoga has the ability to improve all of these areas, simply by doing any movement correctly: form is key.

Yoga also helps children’s self-esteem by causing them to feel better about themselves, and bodies that look better. This self confidence is invaluable for a happy childhood.

2: Improves their Attention Span

If your children have difficulty focusing, yoga is the perfect solution. The history of watching the breath ties into yoga, and all breathing-related exercises are crucial.

8: Boosts Immunity

According to research, yoga practice might lower a person’s risk of getting sick when exposed to colds and flu. Yoga promotes the flow of blood in the body, which improves immune system function. The result is better elimination of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens from the body.

9: Encourages Healthy Eating

Yoga practices encourage mindful eating and meditation, which are essential components for developing a healthy relationship with food. Many forms of yoga focus on the connection between yoga and the food we eat, and they associate it with celebration, not deprivation. Yoga kids can translate this connection into a lesson on moderation, which prevents them from feeling guilty if they eat too much or eat the wrong foods.

This outlook can be an alternative to following an inflexible diet. Instead of feeling deprived, children who have practiced yoga for a while can learn to acknowledge their hunger and stop eating when they are full.

TIP: Encourage your child to meditate mindfully and to connect their food with love and gratitude.

In addition to its regular classes for children, Yoga Nurture has created a program called "Food for Thought" that links yoga and nutrition. It is a highly innovative, conceptual program that guides kids to link their eating habits with healthy, positive thoughts. Through this program, kids come to realize that their food is not there only to fill their stomach and taste good. It is also there to nourish their bodies and share with the world.

10: Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Many kindergartners and first graders are learning to read. When they are overcome with frustration, they have difficulty learning if they are overwhelmed with anxiety. Yoga for kids can set kids up to be more relaxed and confident in stressful situations, so they can benefit.

Most kids who go to school early have a difficult time settling into their new environment. They are away from home, making new friends and learning to do new things. Yoga for kids can help them to feel more comfortable in their new setting. Our early school-aged children can use the breathing techniques, visualizations and mindfulness practices to help them with their new routine and help them settle in to their new surroundings.

Keeping preschoolers focused and calm to learn can sometimes be a challenge. Yoga for kids can help with this by focusing on one thing at a time to help kids be more focused to learn. Yoga for kids combines breathing, visualizations and mindfulness practices to help them focus their energy and learn better.

Preschoolers need to learn to relate better with other children. If they are a little tease or have resentment about how others share, we need to help them learn to work those things out. Yoga for kids can help our preschoolers and kindergartners develop their interpersonal skills by sharing, developing empathy, and understanding how others feel and what others need.

11: Leads to Better Sleep

Studies have found that kids who do yoga regularly tend to fall asleep faster and sleep longer. Yoga helps to regulate cortisol, which is a stress hormone that can keep you awake.

Studies of sleeping children have shown that cortisol levels are significantly higher in children who don’t engage in physical activity. This is important to consider if your child has trouble sleeping. Before doing something more drastic like taking medication, try getting him to do yoga for a couple of weeks to see if there’s a change.

12: Improves Self-Esteem

Yoga has a self-esteem boosting effect on kids because it helps them learn more about themselves. Children get to appreciate the way their body feels when it’s doing the asanas. Asanas aren’t always easy, so children feel accomplished when they eventually master the activity. When the body feels good, the self-esteem increases.

When a child has a positive way of looking at themselves, it gives them the confidence they need to face life’s challenges with a positive attitude.

13: Encourages Empathy

And Compassion:

When we practice yoga, we focus inward on our own bodies and what they’re experiencing. We also pay attention to the movements that we’re making and the sensations that come in response. Being inwardly focused and attuned to our bodies allows us to have a little space between what’s going on inside of us and what outside stimuli we might be receiving. Because of this space, we’re able to be more empathic towards others.

We can see into where they’re coming from because we’re not so easily distracted by our own impulses and by the things that we’re projecting onto other people. We’re able to settle into what a given person is feeling, and we’re more able to communicate in a considerate and compassionate way.

14: It’s Not Competitive

The word "competition" has a negative connotation. It sounds aggressive and a little scary. The reality is that competition needn’t be that way. Kids who start competition too young can battle with serious self-doubt.

Yoga is great for kids because it encourages cooperation rather than competition. When you and your child practice together, you’re doing something creative together. In fact, there are many studies that show kids who do yoga together with their parents develop better coordination.

15: Builds Confidence

Let there be no doubt in children’s minds that yoga is as good for them as it is for adults. It’s no secret that kids as young as 5 years old can be shy and introverted, and the responsibility of performing complex poses for a room filled with parents can take a lot out of them.

But as they master their poses and hear the comforting words of the instructor, they’ll feel their confidence grow. When their body is stretched and able to move in ways that it hadn’t before, they’ll feel pride in their ability. This encourages them to start moving their bodies more and feeling good about how they look and what they can do.

16: Introduces Kids to Mindfulness

Benefits:

  • Introduces kids to the benefits of mindfulness
  • Helps kids channel their "monkey mind"
  • Forces kids to concentrate on the present moment
  • Teaches children to be compassionate and empathetic
  • Creates greater self-awareness
  • Creates greater self-awareness
  • Helps kids learn about breathing, posture and muscle control
  • Helps kids deal with anger and other emotions
  • Teaches kids how to balance yin and yang
  • Teaches kids to be patient with themselves
  • Teaches kids to understand posture and its affect on health
  • Teaches kids how their thoughts affect their bodies
  • Helps kids achieve clarity of mind
  • Enables kids to focus throughout the day

17: Increases Energy Levels

An early yoga class for kids will help channel energy that otherwise might be expended in a negative way. This can have a positive effect on behavior at school as well as at home.

18: Helps with Self-Control

Yoga poses are commonly considered a form of exercise. However, unlike other types of exercise, practicing yoga can give you control of your breathing, and takes time for your movements. Yoga also teaches you how to find balance so that you can have both endurance and stability.

One of the best ways to keep your body stable is to maintain your breathing. On the other hand, you can balance your body by deepening your breathing and releasing your focus on holding your breath.

A yoga poses usually takes at least 10 breaths. This helps children slow down and focus on their breathing, allowing them to calm down. Yoga also helps your body relax itself. By practicing yoga consistently, children will learn to develop their self-control, which is a vital skill for self-development.

19: Improves Behavior

This is a HUGE one for me and many parents. Kids can get out of control very fast. The Yoga Pose below (called Downward Dog) is one of my favorites for teaching body awareness and focus.

In addition to this, it also helps with posture and strengthens the stomach muscles. Over time, it can improve your child's posture and help with strain on the back.

Downward Dog:
Position your child's feet wider than shoulder-width apart and have them place their hands on the floor. Use your hands to gently push your child's hips back. Push to this degree that their chest rises above their hands and their arms straighten. This will help them form a straight line from their shoulders to toes.

This is a great pose for energy and there are many ways you can change it to have fun and challenge your child.

20: Can Help to Improve Memory

Research shows that yoga strengthens spatial-temporal reasoning, which is the part of our brain that helps us to sequence, plan, and visualize movements.

Spatial-temporal reasoning is an important aspect of memory and focus, so practicing yoga helps children improve those skills.

The pathways in our brain are created based on use. In other words, the more we use certain parts of our brain, the stronger the pathways get.

When we practice yoga and meditate, we create strong pathways in our brain because we’re using these parts of our brain more. Therefore, yoga and meditation can help kids have more control over their ability to focus and concentrate.

21: Has a Positive Impact on Relationships

With parents, family, and friends, and offers positive, realistic, and accurate information about sexuality.

22: Improves Breathing

By practicing yoga, children and teenagers can improve breathing and immune system function. A yoga practice will also develop the muscles necessary for breathing, which can be weakened through playing sports or by simply growing up.

Yoga helps release emotional stress and builds resistance to disease.

23: Increases Physical Fitness

Many people envision yoga as something that is only done as a cool down or warm up at the end of a vigorous workout such as running or biking. But yoga can be just as rigorous as any other sport or exercise. Yoga builds strength, muscle endurance, and flexibility by building these things in indirect ways.

Yoga engages most of your body by engaging your mind. It may seem easy to just mindlessly move with the poses, however, yoga is an intense workout. To practice yoga properly, you must focus on the alignment of your poses.

This may not seem like much, but when you try to maintain proper form, you engage more muscles. For example, you are curling your spine. The pose may seem easy to do, but trying to hold this curl while breathing deeply engages more muscles.

Your arm muscles also engage when you must keep your shoulders in position; your thigh muscles engage when you stabilize your legs; the core muscles engage when your body is in motion; and, the shoulders and abs help stabilize your torso. You can also see how you are engaging your leg muscles by trying to balance on one leg while bowing.

24: Regulates the Bowels

Yoga is a powerful tool for helping kids with digestive problems and constipation, as it helps improve the condition of the intestinal muscles and relax the body. This in turn helps stimulate the intestines and helps in the overall breakdown of food.

25: Benefits for Asthmatics

Yoga asanas that are particularly suitable for those suffering from Asthma includes the following:

  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
  • Bridge Pose (Setubandhasana)
  • Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) and
  • Half Bow Pose (Ardha Dhanurasana)

The Cobra Pose involves the elongation of the spine and the opening of the chest – For Asthma patients, this is particularly useful as it helps in the expansion of the rib cage and helps to increase the lungs' functional capacity.

26: Improves Academic Performance

Study shows that yoga improves academic performance.

According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing,1 yoga can improve your child’s attention and enhance schoolwork, as well as their response to stress.

The students that practiced yoga displayed improved concentration, reading speed, and comprehension, and they also had better classroom conduct.2

How can yoga help with academic performance?

The study speculates that it’s the yoga breathing, that leads to improved concentration. Yoga breathing can also help calm the nervous system, which means the child will be able to focus better.”

Cutting edge research also shows yoga can definitely help you improve cognition and academic performance in kids.3

Conventions are one of the ways we maintain order in society, and by doing yoga on a regular basis, kids gain parts of the mind that can help them conform better to convention, follow the rules, and pass tests and exams.

Kids that are frequently ill could benefit from yoga breathing at night before bed. The deep breathing is known to stimulate the nervous system and regulates the autonomic nervous system.

Helps Children Cope with Stressful Situations

Every kid deals with stressful situations on a daily basis. Yoga can help them become better at coping with stress.

27: Easily Accessible

Yoga provides a great way for kids to breathe more deeply and with purpose. The breathing technique practiced during Yoga is often called “pranayama.” Pranayama is breath control that uses the natural inhalation and exhalation of the body as a way to promote physical and mental well-being.

Studies have shown that incorporating pranayama into your daily life can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.

28: Low Cost

Yoga is not expensive. You can buy a mat for a couple of dollars. Guided yoga videos can be found for free on YouTube. Once you have the necessary gear, yoga can be practiced at any time, in any place, and you don’t need any special clothes to do it. This is an important factor because there are a lot of great benefits of yoga for kids, but it’s hard to make time to practice regularly.

Parents who have switched from sedentary jobs to more active ones may still have a hard time making time for yoga because they’ve have to squeeze everything into a shorter schedule. One of the best benefits of yoga for kids is that you decide how much time you want to spend on it.

Depending on the age of your children, you can practice yoga for a few minutes before bedtime, or you can make time for a longer session. There is no such thing as too much, and even a few minutes of focused breathing and movement can do wonders for your mood and your health.

The Little Things Count

Parents should be aware that little things do add up, so even a few minutes of yoga for your child each day can make a huge difference in his or her wellbeing. It may seem that taking the time to practice yoga is a long shot, but the benefits of yoga for kids are well worth the effort.

29: Improves Symptoms of ADHD

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts the abilities of a person to communicate and interact with others. It also impairs their behavior and adaptability.

Essentially, this means that there are some things you can’t expect from autistic children, but it also means that you have to make adjustments to how you handle them. In some cases, parents are forced to wait years before their kids are old enough to understand the rules of family life or school.

Due to the unpredictability of their behavior, children sometimes develop certain challenges in childhood, such as insomnia and anxiety. Yoga is one of the few interventions that have shown real benefits for these issues as well.

For example, a 2013 study tested the effects of yoga in children with autism spectrum disorder. Almost 90 percent of the children who participated in this study reported improvements in communication.

The same study found that yoga techniques can also help with sleep problems. Another study used yoga techniques to help children experience better behavior.

If we consider that most children with autism have difficulty socializing, it’s not hard to see how yoga teaches the development of skills and sensory integration.

Practicing yoga provides a lot of physical activity that improves coordination and overall tonic energy in the body. This enhanced ability to control actions can benefit children and reduce their rate of anxiety.

30: Improves Symptoms of Autism

Yoga therapy is used to improve the sociability of children with autism. Autism is a disorder that causes difficulties with communication skills, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors.

Researchers in Canada trained 13 children with autism to practice a series of yoga poses and relaxation techniques twice a week for 8 weeks. The children ranged in age from nine to 15, and were divided into two groups of seven. One group exercised at home, led by a specially trained yoga therapist. The other group practiced yoga at school, but had no contact with the yoga therapist. The results showed a remarkable decrease in abnormal behaviors such as rocking, hand flapping, body twisting, and staring.

Improved Motor Skills

Girls and boys who participated in Hatha yoga (a type of yoga) showed improvements in balance, coordination, and gait speed (walking agility) compared to those who took an afterschool program instead.

Researches think that yoga improves motor skills because of the Hatha yoga’s focus on balance and strength training, and its attention to detail. Yoga involves the entire body so you engage more muscles in the process, including the anti-gravitational muscles.

Ultimately, the children who practiced Hatha yoga showed greater motor skills, particularly in the areas of fine motor coordination.

31: Helps with Recovery from an Eating Disorder

Yoga has been found to be one of the top things that kids with eating disorders can benefit from. One study found that 17 out of 18 patients had a very positive response to this practice. The adults also participated in the study and found just as much relief.

Yoga has the power to make the addition process much easier by helping a child recover from the trauma of an eating disorder.