STRENGTHEN YOUR CHILD’S BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT
Your child might feel overwhelmed on a daily basis. Many children today are suffering from a lack of connection to their bodies, to their environment, and to themselves. Our information saturated, hectic, and stimulus rich culture pulls kids in many directions, splitting their attention. For many children, it has become too much for their young, developing minds to absorb and process. More and more American children from all walks of life are overweight, have stress and anger issues, and have attention and learning problems. There is a real separation of mind and body your child’s attention might be pulled outward toward the ever increasing distractions of the external world. Overworked parents and overscheduled children often face isolation from their families and their communities. Rather than sitting down to dinner together, it is now quite common for children and parents to communicate mainly via text messaging and e-mail. Does any of this sound familiar? As mindful parents and adults, we must give our children every tool possible to assist them in counteracting a culture and environment that is potentially hazardous to their health and well being. Through the use of yoga tools, stories, and play, we can provide children with opportunities to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, helping them connect with themselves and others with compassion, understanding, and clarity.
Look for Warning Sings
Modern children and adults face daily stresses on the mind and body. Problems include an inability to regulate emotions, overeating or mindless eating, decreased ability to use one’s imagination, negative body image, low self-esteem, and a general lack of compassion, empathy, and respect for the self and others. If you and your children feel overwhelmed, engaging in a yoga routine is a great way to combat the detrimental effects of overscheduling and disconnection.
In 2012, the CDC reported that childhood obesity had more than tripled in the past thirty years. Children are simply spending more time indoors and less time moving. Even if your child is active, she can still benefit from yoga based movement. With regular practice, her muscles, bones, and joints will lengthen and strengthen as her overall flexibility is improved. In addition, all of your child’s major bodily systems are supported by movement and improved circulation, including the digestive, endocrine, immune, and respiratory systems. Yoga strengthens your child’s entire body! Here are some recognized benefits that yoga can provide for your child’s body:
Assists neuromuscular development
Promotes development of the vestibular system
Increases circulation, uptake of oxygen, and functioning of hormones
Encourages motor development on both sides of the body
Increases balance, coordination, and overall body awareness
Develops core strength, essential for posture and alignment
Reduces the risk of injury; improves performance in sports
Improves digestion and elimination
Strengthens the immune system
Helps manage chronic illness
Relaxes the body, promoting better sleep
Do Your Research!
A growing amount of mind body and brain-based research shows that when children learn yoga, they become more present, empowered to manage their emotions, and more content and successful in school and in life. For more information on the benefits of yoga for children and supporting research and articles .
Research suggests that when behaviors are sustained over time, they become part of the brain’s permanent neurological wiring. This is called neuroplasticity meaning that the brain is malleable, or capable of change. Each time your child performs a new action, the neurons in her brain form new connections to help her learn and remember that action. With consistency, these actions and thought patterns become habits. As previously stated, “you are what you eat” neuroplasticity means “you are what you do.” Consistently repeating positive behaviors, movements, and thought patterns with your child can literally help rewire the way our bodies and brains behave, ultimately leading to positive life habits. What a gift for your child! When you practice yoga with your child, you’ll help create a strong, healthy mind. Studies show that yoga:
Calms and clears the mind
Brings your child into the present moment
Relieves tension and stress
Increases concentration, focus, and attention span
Promotes thinking and boosts memory
Stimulates auditory processing and responsiveness
Expands imagination and creativity
Improves ability to be less reactive, more mindful of thoughts, speech, and action
Reduces stress and anxiety
Balances low/high energy levels
Improves attention and emotional control
Positively influences neurotransmitter function
Boost Your Child’s Brainpower Research on the neuroscience of child development from the National Scientific Council of the Developing Child highlights how excessive stress damages children’s developing brain architecture. It leaves them vulnerable to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and overall health. Evidence is accumulating that yoga and mindfulness practice is one effective way to promote healthy brain development and function, and to foster stress resilience.