The first benefit of yoga for kids is that, over time, flexibility and strength can considerably increase. Strong, flexible muscles enable agility, dexterity, and balance. Yoga introduces children to moving muscles in new ways and challenges them to become more aware of each body part.
Not only does yoga have physical benefits, but also it has a tremendous amount of mental benefits. One of the most important elements to a good practice is clearing the mind and focusing on the task at hand. Even if a pose is difficult, children learn to breathe through it and stay calm and concentrated. These concentration techniques can be transferred to a school environment, where kids may find it easier to stay focused on their work, and in turn, get better grades.
Yoga enhances the mind-body connection as well as coordination. It integrates the functions of the mind and body into a union, hence the name "yoga" – derived from the Sanskrit words meaning yoke, or join. Certain postures are intended to balance out the chemicals in the brain in order to improve mental health. This, in addition to awareness of the body, can help children stay calm and aware of their bodies.
In addition to awareness, yoga poses are meant to teach sense of self. When a child has worked hard to finally master a pose, it gives him or her confidence and a boost of self-esteem. These values can be taken off the mat as well, as the child learns that hard work can pay off and the effort is worth it in any situation.
Multiple studies have found that yoga can be beneficial for children with ADHD and autism. It helps to reduce stress and aggression, as well as aid in development. The great thing about yoga is that children (and you!) can practice it anywhere. Yoga can help children become strong, brave, compassionate and mindful, and empower them to continue to practice these values off the mat, in school, and in everyday life.
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