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Teaching Yoga to Stressed Out Children
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October 18, 2013 - 1:17 pm
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Using Yoga to Reduce Stress in Kids

Children growing up in today's society are faced with many challenges. From schoolyard bullying to parental pressures to be the best, children may find themselves stressed out. An effective way for children to manage this stress is through yoga.

Yoga teaches strength, balance, stamina, flexibility, coordination and breathing techniques. Children are able to learn these things through most traditional sports. However, the benefit of yoga is that is presented in a non-competitive way which is less intimidating for children. It also places the focus solely on the child and their personal progress, which can help to boost self-esteem.

Another benefit of yoga is that it promotes a sense of intrinsic spirituality. "Intrinsic spirituality is an inherent sense of spiritual connection or fullness; it is different from just having religious beliefs, although people with intrinsic spirituality may also have specific religious beliefs." Children who are able to develop and improve their sense of intrinsic spirituality were found to have higher self-esteem, greater inner calm and better self-acceptance.

Yoga also teaches children breathing techniques, which can help them to manage difficult situations. In a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, they found that children were able to consciously lower and maintain their heart rates when faced with anxiety through breathing strategies learned in yoga class. The children and adults who participated in this study were found have significantly lower anxiety levels after the class.

Yoga students are also taught to incorporate these breathing techniques into everyday life. They are taught to take deep breaths before reacting to a particular situation. This can act as a problem solving technique for kids. One of the easiest breathing techniques that can be taught to even very young children is the Candle Breath technique. Kids are taught to hold two fingers up while the other fingers are interlaced. They then act as if they are blowing out a candle by breathing in deeply and imagining themselves blowing out a candle with a long exhale. They are taught to repeat this three times. An article published in the Huffington Post states that the extended exhale during the Candle Breath engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect. When children are equipped with these techniques, it can empower them to face day-to-day stressors with confidence, thus reducing stress levels.

Special postures and poses are another important component of yoga. Younger children benefit from the special posturing by allowing them to use their imagination and express their creativity. Older children benefit from these poses because they are meant to stretch and relax muscles. For example, the Road Runner pose can help to stretch the hamstring muscles. And the Surf's up pose helps to use their core and lower back muscles. These are just a few of many simple poses and exercises to teach children that can really help to calm tighten muscles, thus relaxing children.

In conclusion, yoga has many benefits to children. Children can learn self awareness and self-esteem. They are taught intrinsic spirituality. Children are also taught breathing techniques and special posturing. All of these techniques are proven to help reduce stress and anxiety in children.

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