To address mental health issues and the well-being of children in their early years, we have introduced yoga poses and mindfulness moments into our sessions. These are some of the benefits:
Enhances physical flexibility
Yoga promotes physical strength because children learn to use their muscles in new ways. Whether a pose is practiced standing, sitting, or lying down, each one can challenge a variety of muscle groups whilst helping children become more aware of their bodies.
Refines balance and co-ordination
Balance is a key element of yoga. The poses we practice help encourage effort to develop poise and mental clarity. For example, if a child has difficulty standing on one foot, learning to remain calm when falling over, helps develop perseverance and resilience. When successfully demonstrating a pose, children can experience a sense of accomplishment and pride. Co-ordination and balance complement each other to promote overall dexterity.
Develops focus and concentration
The art of practicing yoga in the early years, encourages children to clear their mind and focus on the effort and, as a result of this single focus to achieve a particular pose or stay balanced, it helps strengthen the focus and concentration needed as they journey onto school.
Boosts self-esteem and confidence
Yoga helps promote confidence and establishes building blocks for future learning. It helps develop a strong sense of self and understanding about where they belong in the world; it teaches perseverance, patience and motivation to work towards achieving goals.
Strengthens the mind-body connections
Physical and mental exercise can help reduce social withdrawal, hyperactivity and aggressive behaviour and studies have shown that children with autism or ADHD benefit from practicing yoga and mindfulness techniques.
Mindfulness can promote a sense of empowerment so that children feel able to try new things and take risks.
Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing, tensing and relaxing muscles, can help children overcome anxiety, especially when making mistakes.
By promoting self-love and self-compassion, mindfulness activities can help children overcome negative self-talk
Help children recognise and understand their feelings and emotions. What does happy, sad, excitement, anger look like … use a mirror so they can see their own facial expressions. Introduce the appropriate words/phrases to describe feelings and emotions.
Ask “how are you feeling” then “how is your body feeling”
Play sensory games. For example, put soft feathers, smooth pebbles, in a feely box or introduce different smells/tastes when blindfolded.
Suggest children close their eyes whilst listening to a story and when it is finished ask how they felt, what they imagined etc
Practice breathing … slow/quickly. Breathe out colour such as red if you are angry
Blow bubbles and watch as they float up high.
Listen to calming music with eyes closed.
Watch windmills as they turn in the breeze or blow the sails round smaller handheld ones.