This month we have supported Children’s Mental Health Week. We have supported and donated to TeenYoga Foundation. We believe children’s health matters and would love to encourage parents to bring their teenagers to classes at Studio iO and see more spaces in Brighton offering children and teen yoga.

Yoga for children is becoming more and more popular. We would love it to become mainstream on schools’ curriculum, as well as a lunchtime or after school club. Louise Cunnane, qualified yoga teacher, with Children Do Yoga explains how yoga can improve a child’s self-esteem, confidence and ability to channel their negative emotions such as stress or anxiety. And the growing importance of yoga in schools.

Yoga in schools

I absolutely think yoga will be part of all schools’ curriculum. While yoga reduces stress and anxiety it also increases concentration, improves memory and expands the imagination. In a time where our children are under huge amounts of pressure to keep up with their friends, to look the part – yoga teaches them self-love and self-care.

The physical benefits of yoga are the same for children as they are for adults. Yoga improves flexibility, strength and coordination. It develops body awareness. It is a healthy, non-competitive form of exercise that increases confidence.

Mentally, yoga reduces stress and in a world where we are busier than ever this is essential. We are constantly in a rush, cramming in as much as we can. Our children spend their days in cars and trains, in classrooms and sports halls, with friends and with family. They are watching TV, playing games and checking their social media. There is such a need for down time.

Yoga gives children a chance to be calm, to focus, to improve that focus and use it in their day to day lives. This ability to focus can help with school, giving children a stepping stone to improve in their academic tasks. In the future, having learned this at an early age, it can benefit them in the workplace and in their own family life. Growing up can be such an emotional struggle. Yoga is the foundation on which children can build a happy and grounded future.

Mindfulness and meditation

I will be introducing mindfulness through games and breathing exercises. I hope to help the students connect with themselves and to explore how they are feeling in a safe and calm environment. I’ll end each class with a guided meditation. We’ll float through the sky in colourful bubbles, take trips down the river on lily pads all while laying comfortably with blankets, favourite toys, on their backs or bellies. 

With an adult it’s easier to all lay on our backs and switch off for a moment. We may find it difficult but we understand the benefits. With kids, we want them to have all the benefits but they need to play around with what feels right for them. Laying on their backs with their eyes closed may make them feel vulnerable while laying on their side under a blanket or resting their favourite toy on their stomach might encourage them to delve deeper into the idea of relaxation. Mindfulness is such a huge stress reliever. It also helps develop compassion and regulate emotion. What a positive experience for children!

Yoga combatting bullying

I haven’t looked into the effects yoga has on bullying but in my opinion, I do think yoga replacing detention is a huge step forward. If you have had a bad day or acted out and you are then sent to a room to sit and stew with that negativity it is creating a vicious circle. If you end that day stretching, breathing and reflecting the hope is that you will eventually have a better understanding of yourself and your actions and how those actions can impact others. It increases compassion.  Louise will be running weekend children’s classes, Little Warriors Yoga at Studio iO starting Saturday January 26th, for age groups 5-8 and 8-12 year olds.

Blog post by Louise Cunnane