Yoga is known all throughout the world as a great way to be healthy, active, balanced, and mindful. Yet, many are unaware of the beneficial aspects of yoga for children during their earliest years of development.
When introducing yoga to a group of young learners, they quickly enjoy being guided into different poses with cute names like "mountain pose", and "rainbow pose". Although most of the poses come naturally easy for young children, some may require a little bit more focus, patience, guidance, and breathing to conquer the challenging poses.
Whether these poses are challenging or smooth, the children are having tons of fun without realizing that they are developing some of the greatest gross motor, fine motor, social and emotional, and cognitive skills. According to a published article regarding the benefits of yoga for children by the Harvard Health Blog (Wei),
“Yoga improves balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. Yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.”
Hence, this is why we, at the Berkys Schools - much like many growing schools all across the United States - have decided to incorporate yoga into our daily scheduled activities. Yoga is placed at a time right before we embark on our lesson of the day. Moving, stretching, focusing, and breathing are great ways to help bring a young child's energy to the right place at the right time.
In some cases, children are being educated with the intention of memorizing information and dumping it all out when being assessed or examined. That approach to learning can make it difficult for any learner to retain the information that they are receiving throughout their educational career. However, yoga is known for training the minds of young learners to not only enhance their memory but to retain information for the long term. According to an article published in 2017 by the Arizona Early Childhood: Career and Professional Development Network (7 Benefits of Yoga for Young Kids),
“Yoga enhances children’s concentration and memory. One of the top benefits of kids’ yoga is that the different types of moves requires children to focus and work on their memorization skills – both of which can translate over into their academic performance.”
Children are drastically and critically developing their minds, body, and habits during the first five years of their lives. This is why yoga is such an important tool in early childhood development in helping establish each individual's mind, body, and spirit.
At the Berkys Schools, after yoga, the children transition into a guided breathing or meditation period where they are taught how to invert their energy and calmly focus on their breathing. This soothes the children during a cool-down period after moving, stretching, and twisting their growing bodies around into the yoga poses. Once the children are relaxed and breathing calmly, they repeat their daily positive affirmations. Most individuals subconsciously recite daily affirmations to themselves whether they are helpful or harmful to their self-esteem. For this reason, we want to get a jump start in establishing positive self-talk in all of our wonderful students.
Throughout our 8+ years educating young learners at the Berkys Schools, we have personally witnessed how calm, focused, and engaged children become during our daily Circle Time lesson right after participating in our yoga and breathing activity. During yoga, we have witnessed young children develop a great sense of self and awareness; as well as connecting within themselves and with the group as a whole.
Yoga is not only fun, but it is highly beneficial to the developmental needs of all children. We encourage all of our families to practice yoga with their children at home, followed by a breathing or meditation period, and concluded with positive daily affirmations. If you would like to receive a copy of recourses to assist you and your family in yoga, please comment below.
Wei, Marlynn, MD, JD. More than just a game: Yoga for School-Age Children. Harvard Health
Publishing, January 29, 2016, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/more-than-just-a-game-yoga-for-school-age-children-201601299055, Child & Teen Health.
7 Benefits of Yoga for Young Kids. Arizona Early Childhood: Career and Professional
Development Network, October 13, 2017, https://azearlychildhood.org/resources/articles/7-benefits-of-yoga-for-young-kids/, Resources.