Celebrating September as a National Yoga Month, we are turning to the numerous benefits of yoga for children. Although the research on the effects of yoga practices, especially school-based programs, is only beginning to tap into the issues our kids are facing in various environments, we would like to share our current comprehensive research database.
Overall, it has been shown by scientific researchers that yoga and mindfulness practices address the whole child, thus maximizing the academic, social and emotional competence development in the educational and other similar settings.
Our program, Yoga 4 Classrooms®, is anchored in
well-validated evidence-based classroom pedagogies, developmental science,
cross-sectional research in cognitive affective neuroscience, tenets of
positive psychology and secular contemplative practices. Therefore, the list of relevant scientific publications
is updated constantly and features the published peer-reviewed articles in the
following categories: Yoga in Schools/Classrooms, Mindfulness in
Schools/Classrooms, Yoga and Mindfulness Effects on Stress in Children, Yoga
and Mindfulness for Special Needs Children, Yoga and Learning. We also keep
track of supporting articles describing yoga and mindfulness benefits in mass
media. You can access and download both databases:
Download Yoga for Kids Peer-Reviewed Research References and Yoga For Kids Articles, Books, Websites
Overwhelmingly, research shows that children who practice yoga-based movement, conscious breathing, and mindfulness activities are better able to regulate their emotions, manage stress and calm themselves. They may also choose better foods to eat and engage in more physical activity than children who do not. The studies also illustrate that centered, calm and focused children learn more easily, have better social skills and, in general, are much happier kids.
Recent scientific reviews highlight the following effects of yoga on children:
- Improve attention and emotional control
- Help manage chronic illness
- Improve prefrontal cortex function, including the ability to plan and execute complex functions
- Influence neurotransmitter function
- Improve strength and flexibility of muscles while increasing circulation, uptake of oxygen, and functioning of hormones
- Parasympathetic nervous system may become more dominant and stabilize the autonomic nervous system to enhance resistance to the effects of stress.
In light of increasing evidence supporting the efficacy of yoga in children, special yoga-based programs are being developed for children which:
- address stress and anxiety by treating the body and mind
- place emphasis on individual abilities rather than competition
- provide non-threatening and gentle method to increase physical fitness and enhance health and well-being.
Emotional intelligence, social
competency, adaptable coping strategies, compassionate and positive attitudes,
ability to focus – all these skills are cultivated by the consistent and
supportive practice of yoga and mindfulness techniques, made developmentally appropriate
for use with children of various ages. It is motivating to see the scientific
community investigate these skills and programs and help move the research and
implementation efforts forward for a healthier and happier generation.
For other useful research resources you can visit:
Yoga in My School
International Association for School Yoga and Mindfulness ( IASYM)
Association for MIndfulness In Education
The Hawn Foundation
..and multiple organizations and centers doing specific research related to yoga and minfulness in various domains listed on Yoga 4 Classrooms website.