New project reveals yoga in schools has 'profound impact' on behaviour
More and more of us are taking up yoga to help combat the stress of our increasingly hectic lives.
And there is no denying it does work – not to mention how yoga is also the perfect antidote to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, encouraging movement and stretching muscles and ligaments you had almost forgotten you had.
But while many of us adults are discovering just how wonderful yoga can be, did you know it is also actually all kinds of beneficial for kids?
In the UK, the Reedham Primary in Norfolk recently started a project taking yoga classes into the classrooms, and head teacher Chris Edwards explained to the BBC: "We have seen how the practice of yoga has a profound impact on certain children."
The pilot project, which was part-funded by the NHS, was inititated as a response to concerns among GPs about “over diagnosis of attention problems” and rising exclusion rates.
The classes at Reedham Primary in Norfolk have been aimed at children with a range of special needs, including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The yoga teachers concentrated on techniques that promote a sense of calm and the trial has said to have given the children the ability to manage behaviour and respond to stress, anxiety and depression.
Jyoti Jo Manuel, founder of Special Yoga, the company brought in to teach yoga to the children of Reedham Primary, claims yoga teaches children with autism, challenging behaviour and mental health issues “to cope and respond to stress, tension, worry, anxiety and depression”.
“Teaching children specific breathing strategies and yoga poses to support them in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, relaxation and digestion and helps to reduce anxiety, release difficult emotions and tension in the body.
“With this project children are learning coping strategies that can be used at home and within the school day, so they may live calmer, happier, more peaceful and healthier lives.”
Pupils at the schools were offered group yoga sessions over a 12-week period, while their parents and teachers got additional training on how to use the exercise.
The result? Yoga helped children with social and emotional challenges, and Head Teacher Edwards explained: "They appear to be calmer and more at peace with themselves and their surroundings."