By Kritika Dharia
“Leave your phone and go play with your friends”. “Finish your homework and then go down to play”. “In our times we used to play so much, you kids do not seem to get the time to play”. As parents, don’t we all keep saying these things to our children?
Now children not only have new resources in their lives, but are also expected to perform well. Different institutions in children and adolescents’ lives, such as family, school, and the media, constantly provide stimulation as well as expectations. This exposure to new expectations and demands has the potential to create stress in young people’s lives, especially related to evaluation of their performances. Mental health issues in teens have become a common ongoing phenomenon now. More and more children are falling prey to anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders and even suicide.
Globalisation has exposed children to a lot of stress and pressure. Physical activity has become scarce as children are simply glued to their gadgets and keeping up with school work. Thus it becomes extremely important for parents to guide their children to a healthier way of life. Yoga is an effective and powerful tool to shape a child’s wellbeing for the following reasons:
Improves attention and concentration
We live in a world of distractions. Kids seem to be unable to focus on activities for an appropriate amount of time. Yoga teaches kids to be in the present, and to concentrate on their breathing. The yoga asanas help improve determination and perseverance in children. Studies have shown that yoga benefits children as it helps reduce aggressive behavior, hyperactivity and inattention.
These days children have been exposed to competition from a very young age, their minds and bodies are always being compared to others. Children are always told that they need to be more engaged and more productive. Yoga teaches children how to relax, be still, and to focus on one’s own performance.
Through yoga, children learn more about their mind and body. When they are in touch with themselves, they learn to accept and love themselves for who they are. When the awareness of mind, body and spirit is aligned they will develop into more loving, patient and companionate beings that understand their surroundings better. Yoga can also be a calming activity that can help them cope and deal with stressful situations.
Helps with learning
Children will jump at the chance to play the role of animals, trees, flowers, warriors. Yoga can help with teaching concepts such as numbers, alphabets and sounds. For example, they can ‘bark’ in the dog pose, ‘hiss’ in the cobra pose, and ‘meow’ in the cat stretch. They can also recite the ABCs or 123s as they are holding poses.
(The writer is Psychologist & Outreach Associate, Mpower-The Centre, Mumbai.)