Should Schools Offer Kids Yoga?
Something interesting happened in Denver in March 2018. That month, a new approach to education drew a great deal of attention across the county. Colorado schools abandoned detention and instead, decided to offer delinquent student yoga in an effort to help them cope with their behavioral issues.
Although the effort is extraordinary and may face opposition from outspoken traditionalists, the goal is commendable. The aim of incorporating yoga as a disciplinary tool is to give students the means to acknowledge their emotions. Through self-regulation, they can train themselves to avoid repeating the same behaviors that would have once landed them in detention. As it pertains to adults, the benefits of yoga are well documented. Now, the question is how yoga will work for children who are forced to participate in yoga?
While some students may find yoga to be a fun and interesting avenue, others are bound to dislike it as well. Therefore, the best approach may be for schools to tout the approach as not a replacement for detention, but as an alternative. By posing yoga as an alternative, the majority of students are bound to choose the activity, as oppose to sitting in detention for hours doing nothing. This way, rather than making yoga mandatory, students are given a choice and participate more freely.
Yoga for Kids May Support Physical Health
Alarmingly, 1 in 3 American children are considered overweight, or even obese, by U.S. classification standards. This creates a whole host of medical issues and potential health threats in kids that have never been prevalent in past generations. Such health issues include type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Childhood obesity isn’t the sole cause of all these historically adult conditions, but it certainly increases the risk.
Beneath the surface, there are less visible problems that can be just as damaging, if not more so in some kids and teens. Negative body image, low self-esteem, high anxiety and chronic depression can be debilitating at any stage of life, the developmental years are no different. The season of adolescence can be quite brutal and we all know, kids can be vicious.
Yoga in schools is a way to introduce exercise moves that students of all shapes and sizes can perform. By holding poses, kids use their own body weight to build strength and increase bone density. This is particularly important for obese children who may have remained sedentary otherwise. Yoga helps prevent future musculoskeletal issues. Plus, yoga is low impact and gentle on the body. It helps introduce inactive children to exercise and provides a good foundation for a lifetime of making healthy choices.
The more kids practice yoga, the better they will get at it, the more in-tune they will become with their thoughts and their bodies, and this boost in awareness may reinforce positive behavior. Practicing healthy habits makes it easier to make healthier behavior choices.
Yoga For Kids May Support Mental Health
When teens feel down, overly anxious or worthless, they tend to neglect proper self-care. Their dark feelings are reflected by how they interact with the world.
Yoga is scientifically proven to reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, and to help manage symptoms of depression. Therefore, yoga may allow students an opportunity to take charge of their own health. By supplying a place of calm, kids are given the chance to address their inner workings and deal with negative feelings as they arise. Yoga teaches young people how to regulate their actions through deep breathing and inner awareness.
Daily mindful yoga practices encourage the importance of relaxation, and the value of having a peaceful refuge away from the unavoidable stressors. If this takes place school-wide, it can help foster a whole new culture of increased compassion for self and empathy for fellow students, and community, and hopefully, reduce incidents of bullying.
Ultimately, the new approach implemented in Colorado concerning detention may be one that gains traction as parents, schools, and students realize its benefits. And better yet, it may be a new and better alternative to traditional detention, which offers no rehabilitative qualities for students who need the care, attention, and support.