Namaste All Day: Kids Yoga

By now, we’re all pretty familiar about the perks of yoga. It promotes our overall health and well-being, reduces stress, and helps us “find our center.” The practice has been trending in the past decade and schools have even implemented it to help guide children’s focus and self-regulation.

Research has shown positive outcomes from regular yoga practice, including:

  • Increased attention, decreased hyperactivity, and faster task completion in 5-year-olds who completed yoga 2x/week
  • Mental and emotional benefits in children ages 5-18 years, including decreased anxiety, boosted concentration and memory, improved confidence and self-esteem, and improved academic performance
  • Brain scans revealing reduced activation of the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for emotions and arousal levels) in 6th graders
  • Improvements in attention as well as decreased oppositional behaviors, restlessness, and impulsivity following 20 sessions of yoga with boys diagnosed with ADHD
  • Improvements in imitation and play with peers in children with ASD following 10 months of yoga 5 days/week

Sounds good on paper, but yoga with kids can be intimidating. “Am I doing this right? Can kids even do these poses?”

It’s not just a bunch of poses and breathing. Although that notion is partially true, there’s more to it. The goal of yoga is to grow self-awareness, connecting the mind and the body to the present moment. It’s because of this broadness that makes participation in its practice easy.

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Creating a Sensory Diet: Arousal and Self-Regulation

Arousal refers to the ability to maintain an ideal level of sustained alertness needed to complete various tasks and activities.

In general, we are most productive in a calm-alert state with moments of low- and high-arousal in between.

Every day, our bodies constantly seek out ways to maintain the optimal state of arousal necessary to complete tasks and activities. Sure, there might be moments of lethargy or hyperactivity, but that’s typical. As adults, we have the ability to seek out whatever we need to help us self-regulate (Hello, coffee!).

However, children don’t have the freedom or knowledge to get them to where they should be. So when they are jumping off the walls, are cranky or tired, or just in a complete meltdown, it’s because they have exhausted the mental energy needed to handle stimuli and expected tasks (i.e. focusing on an assignment, completing chores, or engaging politely with others). They’ve simply run out of gas.

So, how can we help our kids self-regulate throughout the day, especially when they are stuck at home?

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