the benefits of yoga for children with and without disabilities

Many children in schools are faced with overwhelming pressure to do well and complete a lot of work in a very small amount of time. Stress is something that takes over children’s lives while they are getting their education. However, it has been found that yoga actually proves to have great benefits with very minor weakness for children with and without disabilities. Today over thirteen million people in America actually practice yoga in their life (Eggleston, 2015). For example, yoga can actually improve a child’s over all wellbeing and keep stress levels regulated. In addition, children with disabilities can actually improve and make their condition more stable with the aid of yoga. Yoga is a wonderful activity to do, because it can improve children’s emotional, physical, and cognitive learning.

Practicing yoga can have emotional benefits for children. For example, children are faced with heavy pressure to do well in school and complete all their assignments on time. A lot of time this stress can also come from the children having low self-esteem (Eggleston, 2015). Yoga works in a way that helps children to find peace with their stress through various different breathing exercises. By learning how to control their breathing they are more prepared to take a deep breath and reflect in times of high stress. In addition, the yoga teacher can also help to regulate the activities to fit each child’s needs. When the yoga is geared towards each individual child the outcome is a lot better. Focusing on the individual child’s successes are extremely important in making yoga a more successful activity for them. To add, self- esteem is also shown to improve with yoga. Why? It is simply, because it allows each child to focus on themselves and feel good about what they are doing. In the study mentioned in the article called “Effect of yoga or physical exercise on physical, cognitive and emotional measures in children: a randomized controlled trial”, it showed that after just three months children were more obedient, confident, performing better in school, and physically more fit (Telles, Singh, Kumar, Kumar, & Balkrishna, 2015). When a child is more emotionally stable everything else seems to also fall into a more positive and stable position.

Another benefit of starting yoga with children is that the earlier it is learned the better lifestyle and attitude these children will have as adults. It is known that a lot of people do not actually begin to take yoga classes until they are much older. However, when it is enforced at a young age these children in later life are more self-aware, confident, and show academic success (Eggleston, 2015). Obviously, this is a benefit because these children can than apply what they learned and use it in their adult life when it comes to dealing with the stress of whatever occupation they choose to pursue. It can even be beneficial in dealing with their home life and keeping their family life stable. Also, these habits can then be passed on from generation to generation leading to more stable and healthy families.

In addition, yoga can have wonderful benefits for children with disabilities. Children with down syndrome can be positively affected by yoga due to the structure and direction yoga provides. In the article by Young, Sillman-French, and Crawford they mention that yoga can give children with down syndrome the chance to practice and actually get better at concentrating, balancing, and self-control in their own lives (2017). For these children, it is not always easy to concentrate, but with yoga being a relaxing yet beneficial activity it can really improve some of their lives. In the study mentioned in the article it talked about how children with autism actually improved their gross motor skills, balance, posture, eye contact, imitation skills, attention, sleep, playing with others, breathing, and anxiety (Young et. al., 2017). These are particular tasks that children with autism struggle with on a daily basis. The idea that yoga can help them improve these things is very cool and provides the children with different options than learning from a doctor so to speak.

Furthermore, yoga can help children who have suffered from rough or traumatic pasts. Although yoga cannot erase the damage that has occurred in these children’s past lives it can help reduce the pain. For instance, in 2010 there was a huge earthquake in Haiti and many children lost both or one parent. This was a traumatic event for these children and many developed PTSD. In the study mentioned in the article called “Yoga to Reduce Trauma-Related Distress and Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties Among Children Living in Orphanages in Haiti: A Pilot Study” it found that all children who had PTSD and decided to begin yoga were actually less stressed and found it a lot easier to calm down. They were able to get a handle on this mental disorder and find a way to better deal with it through an activity that was fun and relaxing. In addition, they also found a huge difference in their respect for others and a high level of resilience (Culver, Whetten, Boyd, & O’ Donnell, 2015). Often times children suffering from traumatic events have trouble with connecting with people due to the high level of pain they feel inside. Yoga is able to help each child get away from whatever is bothering them by completing relaxing exercises. However, yoga does allow for an escape for a bit, but once the session is over it than allows children to know the tools to help deal with their problem.

Physical benefits can also arise when children practice yoga in schools. For instance, a lot of children are glued to their technology that they are not getting the proper amount of exercise. In one study, it showed that children had increased levels of strength after participating in yoga that showed trunk strength and endurance (Telles et. al., 2015). These children went from taking a break from their technology to doing something that they not only enjoyed, but were benefiting from. They were gaining strength while doing something that peaked their interest. In addition, it was also proven that the more exercise the children did, the better their cognitive learning got. For example, they were able to study, concentrate, and listen a lot better (Telles et. al., 2015). These are all skills that are extremely important for students, but also just people in general.

Although, yoga has many benefits just like anything it does have a few minor downfalls. For instance, yoga can be extremely expensive. Not every school has enough money to fund yoga instructors to come to their school and teach their children. This really is a big disadvantage for these children because as learned before yoga can be really beneficial to children. In the article called “Were all in this together: A qualitative study of predominantly low-income minority participants in a yoga trial for chronic back pain” it stated that nine and a half percent of adults specifically minorities and socioeconomic status could not gain access to alternative therapies like yoga (Keosaian, et. al., 2016). This just shows that something that could be an alternative treatment to a conventional one is not an option for a lot of people who are not doing well financially.

Another downfall to yoga is that it is not universally fitting to everyone. For instance, some children are just not as prone to a more relaxed activity than others. Although yoga can help children who are on the rowdier side to become more composed it still might not be an enjoyable activity for these children to participate in. The problem with this is that if yoga is meant to relieve stress and help gain positive overall well- being than it really should be an activity that the child likes to do. If the child is not into the activity often times they will not give it all of their efforts. The point of the yoga is to create an environment where children will be learning new techniques, but also enjoying what they are doing.

In conclusion, yoga is something that serves as a very positive activity for children to be involved in during their youth. It gives them proper tools to deal with stress for their current lives, but also their future ones. It can increase self-esteem by working with how to deal with their stress through breathing exercises. Not only that but it also serves a wonderful way for children to stay physically in shape. For example, it helps with endurance, balance, and agility. These are all things that can be very beneficial to young children who like to run and get active the majority of the time. Moreover, it can be beneficial to children with disabilities or ones who have been through trauma. It can provide these children with tools on how to better cope with their trauma or disabilities and live more prosperous lives. All and all, yoga is something that is absolutely amazing because it improves a child’s well-being and guarantees a less stressful future.

References

  1. Culver, K. A., Whetten, K., Boyd, D. L., & O’Donnell, K. (2015). Yoga to Reduce Trauma-Related Distress and Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties Among Children Living in Orphanages in Haiti: A Pilot Study. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 21(9), 539–545. https://doi-org.ezproxy.montclair.edu/10.1089/acm.2015.0017
  2. Diamond, L. (2012). The Benefits of Yoga in Improving Health. Primary Health Care, 22(2), 16–19. https://doi-org.ezproxy.montclair.edu/10.7748/phc2012.03.22.2.16.c8961
  3. Eggleston, B. (2015). The Benefits of Yoga for Children in Schools. International Journal of Health, Wellness & Society, 5(3), 1–7. https://doi-org.ezproxy.montclair.edu/10.18848/2156-8960/CGP/v05i03/41125
  4. Keosaian, J. E., Lemaster, C. M., Dresner, D., Godersky, M. E., Paris, R., Sherman, K. J., & Saper, R. B. (2016). ‘We’re all in this together’: A qualitative study of predominantly low income minority participants in a yoga trial for chronic low back pain. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 24, 34-39. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.montclair.edu:2048/10.1016/j.ctim.2015.11.007
  5. Telles, S., Singh, N., Kumar, A., Kumar, A., & Balkrishna, A. (2013). Effect of yoga or physical exercise on physical, cognitive and emotional measures in children: a randomized controlled trial. Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Mental Health, 7(1), 1–28. https://doi-org.ezproxy.montclair.edu/10.1186/1753-2000-7-37
  6. Young, A. J., Silliman-French, L., & Crawford, L. (2017). Yoga for Young Children with Down Syndrome. Palaestra, 31(4), 18–25. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.montclair.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=126273855&site=ehost-live&scope=site

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