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Hatha Yoga for Kids in Public Schools
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December 7, 2010 - 9:44 pm
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Classroom Management: 5 Ways to Eliminate Disruptive Behavior in Kids Yoga Class

By Donna K Freeman

Disruptive behaviors are a fact of life for most children, and are especially prevalent with children with ADHD and Autism. Learning to control those behaviors is an on-going and often frustrating process for them, their parents, teachers and care-givers. Here are some pointers to assist in correcting disruptive behaviors in yoga class and at home.

Communicate Expectations: Children need to know what is expected of them. Talk to them. Tell them what appropriate behavior looks like, sounds like, feels like. Repeat often. This will make them more mindful of their actions. I did this every time we went to the grocery store or ate at a restaurant with my little ones. The same is true for yoga class. Be sure your students know what is expected of them and when. Remember to make time for fun, noise & play.

Teach Respect: The yoga concepts of ahimsa (non-violence), brahmacarya (conservation) and tapas (self-discipline) all relate to respecting self and others. Teach respect through conversations and stories. Congratulate children when they show respect. Remind them when they forget. Show respect in your own life, especially when dealing with a disruptive individual. As tempting as it is, this is not the time to lose your cool. Practise Take 5 together as needed.

Reward Appropriate Behavior: Build in rewards. Often disruptive children only receive attention for their inappropriate behaviors. Instead catch them being good. Praise often specifically mentioning what they are doing well. Choose a child who is behaving appropriately to be the teacher's assistant for a pose/activity. Trade off yoga 'work' with a yoga 'reward'; if they can focus on the class poses/meditation then they get to play a yoga game /sing a song. I often reward my children for good behavior with a trip to the Pet Store after running errands.

Follow Through: Children thrive when they know what to expect. Establish consequences and always follow through, even when it is inconvenient or embarrassing. This may mean taking a child to the side and reminding them of expectations. Sometimes a calming hand, a whispered comment or providing responsibilities will engage the child and turn a negative into a positive. Some classes provide a quiet corner when children can go if they need some alone time or a breathing break. If negative behavior persists ask the child to remove themselves temporarily. Briefly talk things over away from prying eyes and ears and then return to normal activities, leaving the incident behind.

Practice Patience: Remember that each child is growing and learning. They will outgrow and learn to manage disruptive behaviors with time and consistency. Work on one behavior modification at a time. Stick with it and keep expectations realistic (5 minutes of good behavior for many is a triumph). Set children up for success, then celebrate those successes lavishly.

Author of Once Upon a Pose: A Guide to Yoga Adventure Stories for Children, Donna Freeman is a yoga instructor, teacher, mother of four, and honey to 1. She has been doing yoga since 1997 and teaching it since 2002. Passionate about yoga for kids and teens, she loves showing parents and teachers how to share the joy of yoga with children of all ages. Visit for all you ever wanted to know about yoga for kids and teens. You can also access The pet store, a download and the easiest, most effective way to teach kids yoga.


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December 23, 2013 - 11:53 pm
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Academic Results from Kids Yoga

One point to mention about yoga in schools. As much as I love it, parents should have the option to reject it. If their religious beliefs go against kids learning life skills for improved behavior, grades, preventative health, and athletic skills, then they have a right to take another activity.

One of the best ways to improve academic scores in children is to enroll them in a form of physical activity that boosts their ability to focus and concentrate. Perhaps the best exercise that accomplishes this is yoga. Children who practice yoga have shown a dramatic increase in test scores, homework and schoolwork completion, and information retention. They also tend to have a more positive association with knowledge and enjoy learning, rather than fight against it like many children often do. Yoga also instills a better sense of self-esteem and confidence in children who practice it regularly, which can help in academic respects.

Yoga teaches the fine arts of focus and concentration through the holding of poses and the repetition of sequences. Many children lack these qualities, which causes them to perform poorly in school. When they practice yoga to develop these qualities, they can utilize them to improve their focus in school, resulting in better retention of knowledge. Studies show that, while more than half of the information taken in throughout the day is forgotten, people who practice yoga are more likely to retain as much as twice the information. This improves their scores on tests and assignments, as they understand the information more clearly.

For many children who do not receive high academic scores, school becomes a chore and a place of discomfort. Children who struggle with schoolwork already can benefit from yoga, as taking yoga classes is a way for them to understand that learning is not a bad thing. This transition from viewing learning in a negative light to enjoying it is important, as children should never have a hatred for learning. It is vital for their development, and once they begin to enjoy learning, they will also apply this to academic learning. Children who enjoy learning will not only be more receptive to school, but are also more likely to to complete the work requested outside of the halls of school.

It has been proven many times that children with a high level of confidence in themselves will perform better academically. Yoga helps children feel better physically and emotionally, which improves their self-esteem. Children with higher confidence more easily believe that high academic results are possible, and this belief is enough to improve their scores. Once they have seen that they were able to achieve high marks, these scores are often repeated, as they now have the confidence in themselves and their knowledge.


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July 25, 2014 - 10:39 am
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Yoga therapy for improving behavior of a child: The therapeutic system of yoga is defined as unification of body, mind and spirit in synchronization. This method of physical activity comprises of three basic fundamentals exercise, breathing and meditation. Practicing yoga techniques are proven to be highly advantageous for improving behavior of a child and overall wellness because during performing these exercises the cells of brain are readjusted and work more efficiently. This form of physical exercises is becoming widely popular in western world particularly in USA; the therapy of yoga is included in the curriculum of many schools and regularly instructs in school time like other subjects.

There are various reasons of developing behavioral disturbances in children as sometimes they suffer emotional problems due to biological, cultural and social affects. Psychiatric disorders in children are linked with hormonal imbalance, family oppression, and parental rejection or from chronic ailments and physical disabilities.

The children are unable to convey their problems correctly therefore these issues are articulate in their behaviors or acts. They are much more influenced by their surrounding personalities, relationships and atmosphere. The ancient methodology of yoga is a direct way to teach kids how to sort out personal divergence and problems. The behavioral unstable child is non cooperative, non receptive and not obedient therefore it should be remembered that introduce those techniques which appeal to the imagination of child in experiencing mental relaxation.

According to a research based analysis major changes take place in the behavior of children who practice regularly the different exercises of yoga. The report stated that it is the best way to teach children to stay calm, disciplined and self controlled also essential for managing behaviors and releasing inner stress. Teaching children stretching, breathing, body balancing and positioning techniques are highly beneficial in producing positive effects on their mind and helpful in solving behavioral issues in a healthy manner. For the duration of attempting posture the child will completely focus or concentrate on what he or she is doing that supports in building sense of self awareness, improving self esteem and self confidence. The therapy of yoga is helpful for increasing strength, flexibility, focus of mind and body by reducing stress or anger. Teaching poses in safe and protected environment benefitted kids with hyperactive behavior to calm down and keep composed by assisting their impulsive moves in positive direction. The session in a class educates children to perform with other fellow student together which is good for teaching team skills whereas breathing procedure naturally guide them to relax.

As per stated by yogic terminology emotional disturbance occur due to imbalance between Manas Shakti and Parana Shakti, Paranayama asanas work directly on mind and endocrine system to re- institute synchronization between mind and emotions. Yoga Nidra is practice to release inner subdued feelings from unconscious level of mind. Techniques of Karma yoga are helpful in releasing and re-directing energies of children in a much constructive way. Shashankasana is highly beneficial for child suffering from extreme anger as the asana regulate the flow of excess hormones from adrenal glands responsible for self control. A combination of poses like Surya Namaskar when performed before yoga Nidra will be good for emotionally distressed kids. Performing a pose called Sarvangasana affect secretions of thyroid glands which has a deep effect on physical, emotional and mental development of a child. The practice of Paranayama aids children in putting together all the forces of their personality.

The art of practicing yoga encourages children to clear their mind by concentrating on effort they are doing, strengthening body mind connection, boosting up self esteem and self confidence. Different studies conducted in USA and UK reveal that kids with hyperactive behavior after performing yoga Nidra show significant reduction in levels of hyperactivity, upgrading in class performance, improvement in awareness, decrease in restlessness and reduction in muscular tension.


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December 2, 2014 - 2:06 am
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Has anyone tried or is teaching preschool children yoga? Please share your thoughts

Yoga for Preschool Children

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