Yoga for Every Body! Yoga Can Help Children Manage Stress and Anxiety, Which Can Reduce Panic Attacks in Those Prone to Them. Yoga Can Also Decrease Anger, and Improve Focus

By McNealus, Kristin | The Exceptional Parent, March 2016 | Go to article overview

Yoga for Every Body! Yoga Can Help Children Manage Stress and Anxiety, Which Can Reduce Panic Attacks in Those Prone to Them. Yoga Can Also Decrease Anger, and Improve Focus


McNealus, Kristin, The Exceptional Parent


I am sure that you have heard about yoga, but have you tried it? Are you aware of all of the benefits it can have for the whole family? Quite simply, yoga consists of moving the body through various postures, and coordinating the movement and poses with breathing. This does sound simple, right? And yet it can help the body and mind in so many ways. Yoga's goal is to provide a guide for wholeness, happiness and well-being. It does not need to be a religious practice, which is sometimes a reason people have not tried it. Yoga can be practiced for health, and does not need to be a spiritual practice.

Yoga is a gentle way to introduce movement and mindfulness in our busy lives. It not only is a great tool to develop physical wellness, but can also help us develop the capacity to better manage daily stressors. This is very important for parents. Stress alone can lead to many physical and mental health complications. Countless research studies have demonstrated effectiveness of yoga as an adjunct treatment for the management of high blood pressure, diabetes, stress and depression.

The beauty of yoga is that it is accessible to every individual, requires minimal equipment needs, and can be practiced in the comfort of your own home when you can fit it into your busy schedule. Yoga should not hurt! By listening to your body, you can practice within your own limits. Let's try one simple exercise before moving onto the benefit of yoga for your children.

   Sitting right where you are, we're
   going to do a spinal twist to help
   increase the circulation and flexibility
   in the spine. Face forward, and sit tall.
   Place your left hand on the outside of
   your right knee, and your
   right arm over the back of
   the chair. Breathe in through
   your nose, and as you twist
   to the right, breathe out
   slowly through your mouth.
   Turn your head as well. Push
   against your right knee.
   Keep your posture tall, but
   also be sure those shoulders
   are relaxed and away from your ears.
   Breathe normally and hold that position
   for three full breaths. Release slowly
   and come back to facing forward and
   repeat on the opposite side.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

How did that feel? Did you feel any of your tension dissipate?

Yoga has also shown to have many benefits for children. Children now grow up in a world with constant stimulation, and yoga helps to calm the mind. It provides time away from digital interaction, which is continuing to increase. By moving through the postures, the body increases in strength and flexibility. The breathing practice improves oxygen uptake. More schools are starting to incorporate the practice, but it is also an option to look into as an extracurricular activity. Yoga may even be an activity you can do together!

Although the studies are limited, the results have been positive in research of yoga for children with various special needs. Yoga can be a great complement to formal physical, speech and occupational therapies. It is not curative, but certainly can contribute to the management of many conditions. Yoga can help children manage stress and anxiety, which can reduce panic attacks in those prone to them. Yoga can also decrease anger, and improve focus.

This carries over into other aspects of the child's day. If your child starts to amp up while out at a restaurant, cuing them back to their yoga breathing can help to calm him.

There is even anecdotal evidence for increased creativity in children with the regular practice. There are many physical benefits as well, including reduced obesity, which was outlined as a growing epidemic in the October issue. Yoga has been reported to contribute to people having fewer headaches and stomach aches, it improved constipation, decreased back pain, and reduced sinus problems. Yoga can improve sleep, as well as digestion. These benefits are also present with the adults who practice regularly. …

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