It is observed that a major segment of our society today is unhappy, miserable, worried and full of stress and anxiety. This happens despite all comforts available and a peak in civilization with the most refined technologies. But sadly, these comforts have inturn become the cause for many psychosomatic diseases. Modernization / urbanization take us away from nature and due to this people from all walks of life suffer from different diseases.
With the constant bombardment of media and other distractions and the increase in the amount of sugar intake by most children, getting them to focus on anything is truly challenging. The urgent requirement for children today is their need to learn how to concentrate – be it in studies, sports or any other extracurricular activities so that they grow into healthy, balanced adults. Most children today are diagnosed with various diseases and are prescribed drugs which allow them to be attentive and to concentrate. What many parents don’t realize is that this method of administering drugs to make them attentive is not healthy amd may lead to severe side effects that can cause physiological imbalances. A better way to tackle this issue is by putting them through a healthy diet and lifestyle pattern by encouraging them to take part in sports, martial arts, dance forms or yoga.
According to medical scientists, yoga is a successful method in creating psychological balance in children as it balances the nervous and endocrine systems, which directly influence all the other systems and organs of the body. Yoga is very beneficial since it is both a curative as well as preventive therapy. It is not just a mere exercise, but also brings about relaxation and rejuvenation. It reduces stress and fatigue, releases tension, increases the range of motion and helps us to adjust our bodies to environmental changes leading to improved immunity. Since yoga teaches us to live a healthy & happy life it is necessary that it should be imbibed by all.
Our brain is also a muscle and needs exercise for better functioning. Yoga is the best form of exercise for the brain. Stress and anxiety can cause malfunctioning of the brain and yoga helps to reverse this effect. Yoga regulates and deals with the body’s mood and stress levels. It differs from other brain improving exercises in its ability to facilitate proper breathing patterns that help a great deal in calming the body and invigorating the mind.
Yoga & Concentration
Yoga and meditation teach us to be in the present moment. It trains us to observe ourselves and our environment in a non-reactionary manner. Over time, it allows us to engage and interact with the present moment without being caught in the past and future; and allows us to accept life as it comes. A consistent yoga practice improves cognitive function, creativity and memory. It clears the mental clutter thus enabling clarity of mind and the ability to respond thoughtfully rather than emotionally. Children’s minds are more malleable than adults’ and they respond to new behaviours and experiences more readily. This means that they are more sensitive to overwhelming visual and auditory stimulation like video games and cell phone screens. At the same time they can easily adopt to new habits. Hence, a regular practice of yoga is sure to increase their ability to concentrate by balancing the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Children who regularly practice yoga breathe more deeply and are less likely to produce stress hormones that damage the nervous systems and interfere with their learning ability. Yoga creates a balance in the endocrine system which regulates the creation and release of hormones. Hormones are part of what creates mood, and mood is what determines children’s ability to receive and retain information confined to a particular subject/object/person(s)/relation(s). Over time a regular practice of yoga can help them relax more easily and develop an increase in will power and self-control thus teaching them to quiet and calm their mind. This eventually leads to greater concentration and focus in children. In a way, yoga helps children learn more, retain and recall information and focus better in all aspects of life.
Top 10 Yoga Asanas for Kids
- Dhanurasana(Bow pose) – This is good for developing confidence and focus in children. It strengthens the back and abdominal muscles. It opens up the chest, neck and shoulders. It tones the leg and arm muscles and adds greater flexibility to the back.
- Parvatasana (Mountain pose)– This helps stretch the entire body and is good for expanding energy level. It is good for developing a firm body posture. Parvatasana strengthens the muscles of the arms and legs. It tones the spinal nerves and improves the flow of blood to the spinal region.
- Vrikshasana (Tree pose)– This posture helps children build balance and alertness. It brings balance and equilibrium to their mind. It helps improve concentration and makes the legs strong, improves the balance of the body and opens the hips.
- Tadasana(Mountain / Palm Tree pose) – This yoga asana helps children improve their balance and height gradually. It invigorates the entire body. It stretches the lower abdomen and stimulates digestive function. Walking on the toes improves foot stability and balance.
- Sukhasana(Easy pose)– Through this asana children learn to sit straight as it gives them the feeling of meditation. It calms the brain and strengthens the back. It helps in stretching the knees and ankles.
- Sethubandhasana(Bridge pose) – Children who practise this asana are able to connect with their inner self and remain calm. It strengthens the back muscles by relieving the tired back instantaneously. It gives a good stretch to the chest and spine. It opens up the lungs and reduces thyroid problems and improves digestion.
- Savasana (Corpse pose)– It helps in feeling relaxed and enables to handle stress and strain of life efficiently. This posture brings a deep, meditative state of rest, which may help in the repair of tissues and cells. It also rejuvenates both the body and mind. It is the perfect way to end a yoga session.
- Bhujangasana(Cobra pose)– This yoga asana allows children to stretch their back and helps in proper digestion and in overall health. It stretches the muscles in the shoulders, chest and abdomen. It decreases stiffness of the lower back, strengthens the arms, shoulders and the spine.
- Ardhasarwangasana(Half shoulder stand pose) – This Yoga posture helps children to improve the flexibility in their body by allowing them to perform various activities easily. This yoga works from head to toe and benefits the entire body. It energizes, stretches the ligaments, muscles in the cervical region, stimulates circulation, rejuvenates the back, stimulates the abdominal organs, relieves constipation and refreshes the mind.
- Virbhadrasana (Warrior pose) – This helps build a confident, calm and balance in children. It strengthens and tones the arms, legs and lower back. It improves balance in the body and helps increase stamina.
P R Krishnakumar
# Certified Personal Trainer from American College of Sports Medicine
# Registered Yoga Teacher : Yoga Alliance International Certification