Author: Marie_Sophie Ilse
The understanding of childhood as a happy careless time to roam around in nature and learn about life by playing the whole day long has already been abandoned for many years in most parts of the world. Even if children are born in a country where they don’t have to work physically to support their family, there is a lot of pressure on them becoming a productive member of society already at early age.
Nowadays not only in school children have to perform well, they are also expected to participate in out school activities like sports or learn how to play an instrument. Following these expectations kids from the age of six tend to have a day structured almost like a nine-to-five-job of an adult, leaving very little time for themselves to grow and explore their minds. This is where yoga can come in. Although it bears the risk to be another activity that children have to incorporate in their busy daily routine, compared to other physical or artistic activities yoga is not supposed to create a competition between them. The approaches in yoga for children are mainly done in a playful way and make them relate the different postures to stories or songs. In a case study from the US, where they interviewed a group of children which did a three weeks yoga course, 83% said they „felt more happy and had fun“ (1).
Growing up in a society that suffers from modern civilization diseases such an diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiac diseases, children can highly benefit from doing yoga. Obesity is becoming an increasing problem already in early childhood. According to official numbers ten to twenty percent of all children in Germany are overweight, in America it is even supposed to be thirty percent (2). Obese children have a much higher risk to develop somatic and psychological diseases as a grown up.
Another common problem nowadays are orthopedic diseases like back pain or even damage of the spine, caused by increased time spent in front of computers or television. Here the physical aspects of yoga help the children to stay fit and to develop different patterns of movement.
Besides physical diseases mental problems start to play an increasing role in childhood these days. Attention deficiency hyperactive disorder (ADHD) that is associated with a lacking ability to concentrate, is the most common psychological disease in children today. In a big study about the health of children in Germany in 2006 the prevalence of ADHD was around five percent (3).
Instead of giving mind altering drugs to them the practice of yoga can be an approach to learn self regulation, deal with impulsivity and hyperactivity and improve their concentration.
Following right away are psychosomatic disorders like chronic headache or stomach pain where no physical reason can be found. Practicing yoga and especially learning how to relax the body may help affected children to deal with these diseases. Moreover it can improve their self consciousness and by learning about the Yamas and Niyamas children can develop social skills that may contribute to their overall education.
So looking at all these different aspect yoga can definitely be recommended for children to support them in their physical and mental development as well to prevent or treat diseases.