The Benefits of Yoga and Mindfulness for Children
Yoga and mindfulness seem to be the buzzwords of the moment, with more and more emphasis on the engagement of children.
Here at Rainbow Gum we're happy to see the growth of the concept, as we feel so strongly about its importance to the happy, healthy future of our children. Here are some of the physical and psychological benefits yoga and mindfulness provide to children.
Physical strength, flexibility and mobility
Yoga encourages kids to use all of their muscles in new ways, developing muscle tone and core strength for better posture. Some poses in particular work on strengthening muscles that helps to support joint movement, and encourages the retention of calcium for strong bones.
Coordination, balance and body awareness
Developing balance and coordination through yoga can help children with motor coordination and physical stability and control of our bodies. Yoga and mindfulness increases our awareness of what is happening in our body and our minds, improving our body image and allowing us to better understand what we need to look after ourselves. They create a foundation for a resilient mind, body, and spirit.
Immune, digestive, respiratory systems
Certain yoga poses stimulate the lymph system for the transfer of white blood cells, to increase immunity to fight viruses and infections. Improving body posture and learning diaphramic breathing techniques can also be beneficial to children with asthma to help alleviate or manage symptoms. These calming techniques can also alleviate stress that can disrupt gut function, as well as using dynamic poses that stimulate metabolism and the activity of digestive organs.
Concentration, focus, learning ability
Practicing a pose clears our mind and elicits focus on what we are doing, exercising listening skills, memory and increasing attention span. Learning breathing techniques and increasing physical fitness improves the circulation of oxygen around the body, including the brain - especially important as our brains use 3 times more oxygen than the muscles in our body. Fitter children have been shown to perform better at school. 
Non-competitive and all-inclusive
Not every child loves sports or competitive activities; some can find it quite intimidating. Yoga is suitable for all ages, shapes and sizes, so it is a good form of physical activity for everyone and anyone. There is no competing against others - just seeing greater and greater improvement within yourself.
Self-esteem and confidence
Trying new things helps build a child's self-esteem and sense of capability. Regularly practicing something combined with seeing evidence of their improvement builds confidence in themselves. Yoga provides the building blocks for a stronger sense of self and self-efficacy for the future.
Calm and self-regulation
Stress levels in children are often higher than we think they are. Learning how to relax and calm everyday stress and anxiety promotes a better mood and outlook on life, leading to happier and healthier kids. Both yoga and mindfulness grow children's self-awareness, and with the right tools, allowing them to effectively manage their thoughts, feelings and actions.
Sleep and behavioural interventions
Most children aren't getting the amount of sleep they need, which can lead to trouble managing their emotions and behaviour. Recent research suggests yoga can help children address the core symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as heightened anxiety, poor motor coordination, and hyperactivity. Learning how to calm the nervous system balances energy levels and contributes to better sleep habits and less disruption in the day ahead.
Relationships and social awareness
Practicing mindfulness activates emotional intelligence, empathy and communication skills. This can be through decreased anxiety, greater self-compassion and better emotional regulation.
Looking for a way to get started? Read our article on how to get your kids into yoga.