I know that yoga, as mindful movement, works in raising children's physical and mental wellbeing - because I have seen and heard it firsthand from the children, teachers and parents I've worked with over the last 12 years.
Still, I know how reassuring it can be to read science backed evidence in an area that can feel hard to measure results in. So here are just a few research papers, amongst many, that show the benefit of yoga for children.
Also, please enjoy watching several interviews that we conducted with primary school pupils after yoga classes. I taught them every other week over six weeks. Their Class Yoga trained teacher, Arran Langdon, taught them as well, in addition to using our video resources daily.
Harvard Medical School here acknowledges the real benefit that can be gained from yoga for children:
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.
This study published online in the US National Library of Medicine, discusses the findings into just how effective mindful movement is for pupils within the education system:
Yoga/mindfulness interventions may improve symptoms of anxiety among students.
Yoga/mindfulness activities may facilitate stress management among elementary school students and may be added as a complement to social and emotional learning activities.
This paper reviews research and discusses the idea for school-based yoga programmes, as an effective way to promote social-emotional learning (SEL) and positive student outcomes:
Research suggests that providing yoga within the school curriculum may be an effective way to help students develop self-regulation, mind-body awareness and physical fitness, which may, in turn, foster additional SEL competencies and positive student outcomes such as improved behaviours, mental state, health and performance.
This uncontrolled pilot study examined the effects of a classroom-based yoga intervention on cortisol concentrations and perceived behaviour in children. A 10-week classroom yoga intervention was implemented in one second-grade and one third-grade classroom:
The teacher perceived significant improvements in several aspects of his/her students' behaviour. Results suggest that school-based yoga may be advantageous for stress management and behaviour.
Having the movement, as well as the breath and senses to focus on is why yoga, as mindful movement, is more effective than seated mindfulness meditation techniques for bringing someone into a mindful state of being - one of presence, calm, alertness, peace of mind and clarity of thinking:
The results of mindful movement training should be observed in multiple complementary measures, and may have tremendous potential benefit for individuals with ADHD and other populations.
A study on the effects of yoga carried out at a school in Colorado, found that there was a 80% increase in focus on the teacher, after only two weeks of pupils taking part in yoga classes. This could be attributed to the mindful state that is facilitated during a yoga class, and that with time, becomes a more consistent way of being. When any person, child or adult, feels calm, alert and present, we are in the optimal place to
learn well. So before expecting a child to listen and learn, let us first give them the tools to feel relaxed and attentive in that moment, to maximise their learning potential.
— Dee Marie, M.A., Grace Wyshak PhD, George H Wyshak, DMD, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health, 2006
Videos of interviews conducted over a period of weeks at a school implementing yoga and mindfulness in the classroom with the training and video resource support of Class Yoga.
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