We all know that it is important for children to be active. Dozens of noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases are caused by inactivity. We also know that lifelong habits are set early in the developmental years of childhood.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has doubled over the past 30 years. This means that 1 out of 3 children in the United States are now obese. Clearly, we have to get kids moving for health reasons!
But what about academics? What if fitness could also improve test score? What if our nation’s lack of movement was actually contributing to our less than stellar performance in international academic rankings?
Promoting physical fitness is a way to improve mental fitness. Clinical studies have shown that yoga not only improves physical fitness in children but also contributes to better academic performance and emotional balance. Scientifically, the mental benefits of children’s yoga result from calming heart rate, which signals the brain to activate the parasympathetic nervous system response. Body systems such as circulation, glandular balance, digestion, and immunity are also enhanced.
Because children are subject to sensory overload, just like adults, the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) is often engaged and creates stress. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, yoga can reduce stress and increase the ability to focus and learn.
The following are some of the benefits of yoga to support the education of the whole child, thus maximizing the learning process:
- Provides students healthy ways to express and balance their emotions
- Promotes a more relaxed, comfortable state of being - the perfect state for teaching and learning
- Brings students into the present moment – the most basic requirement for learning
- Encourages community and connectedness within the classroom
- Helps to create an atmosphere of confidence, enthusiasm and non-competitiveness where everyone can succeed
- Provides opportunities for beneficial motor breaks throughout the day
- Eases anxiety and tension (such as pre-test or performance jitters)
- Enhances focus, concentration, comprehension and memory
- Provides opportunities for reflection, patience and insight, reducing impulsivity and reactivity
- Supports social and emotional learning
- Improves listening skills
- Wakes up sluggish minds and creativity as needed
- Enhances organizational and communication skills
- Improves posture, assisting students to sit comfortably for long periods
- Enhances motor skills and balance
- Improves mind/body awareness and connection
- Improves confidence and self-esteem
- Encourages respect for oneself and others
- Creates a calm, harmonious classroom
Classroom Yoga Routines: Go with the Flow
Yoga Calm offers several short movement flows that can be integrated into the school day. These can get kids moving, increase heart rate and develop core strength, balance and flexibility. For example: