Why Yoga Is So Great For 8 To 12 Year Olds!


Last week, we reported the results of a new study, released by Harvard Medical School, proving the mental and psychological effects of yoga for teens. Our own evaluation of our Impact & Change programme (covering children in Key Stage 1 and 2) showed very similar results with children at Key Stage 2 demonstrating a remarkable 38% improvement across the 9 areas we monitored – confidence, self-esteen, ability to listen to and follow instruction, co-ordination etc.In this article we look at why children from the ages of 8 to 12 years benefit so much from yoga.

During these years, children mature very rapidly, with their interests, general knowledge, powers of thinking and reasoning all developing considerably. They want to be interactive, to take responsibility, to have a say in how things are done, to debate, question and argue. They are expected to behave in a more mature way, although their bodies and minds are going through a turbulent time as they get ready for the onset of puberty.

A key consideration when working with this age group is how to present the concept of ‘yoga.’ For some children the terms connected to yoga may be strange and alienating, while others may think it’s airy fairy nonsense.Peer group pressure carries a big influence at this age, and it is easy for this age group to be put off yoga related activities because they’re not regarded as ‘cool.’ Thankfully there are an abundance of well-known and highly successful people who have an established yoga practice, from footballers like Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale, to actors like Jake Gyllenhall and Jennifer Aniston, through to singers like Madonna and Lady Gaga.

What yoga gives children at this age is a series of techniques and exercises that they can use to increase their control, over their bodies and minds, and ultimately their lives. For children interested in sport, yoga will improve their concentration, focus and mind-body co-ordination, so improving their overall performance. It will also provide the foundation for healthy habits that stengthen and protect the body.For academically minded children, yoga will improve their concentration and provide tools to help them manage anxiety around exams. Creative children will be interested in how yoga will enhance their fluency and flexibility of thought.

In practice, all children derive these benefits, with the additional advantage that through the practice of yoga, they develop their social skills. As they learn to relate better to others, so they gain more poise and self-confidence. This helps to provide the foundation for a happy and successful life.

We’ve designed our Yoga’d Up programme specifically to help children to navigate this period of their lives with more ease. Weaving a full range of yoga postures into games and partner activities, children get a great work out as well as learning practical techniques for calming and focusing. So if your school doesn’t have our Yoga’d Up programme, you can now tell them all about the benefits!

Izzy’s Story: The Difference Yoga’d Up Classes Made To A Girl With Down’s Syndrome

 This week is National Down’s Syndrome Week, and 21 March has been designated as “World Down Syndrome Day” by the United Nations. The aim of the week is to raise awareness and understanding of the condition which affects approximately 1 in 800 births worldwide. It is also about promoting the rights of those with Down’s Syndrome to enable them to enjoy a full and active life in their communities.

Yoga is a great form of exercise for children with Down’s Syndrome. Hypotonia (or low muscle tone) is characteristic in most children with Down’s Syndome. In addition to all the usual benefits of yoga, yoga poses help to strengthen the muscles, tighten the ligaments, and tone the overall body. Standing poses such as Mountain, Triangle and Warrior II are especially beneficial for unstable knee caps, weak ankles and flat feet.

In this post, we look at the difference weekly Yoga’d Up classes have made to Izzie, who is autistic and has Downs Syndrome. Her status within her class had always been low; causing her to suffer from low self-esteem. Her peers expected very little from her and sadly communicated with her only when absolutely necessary. This had caused Izzie to suffer from anxiety about school as a whole, and she had become very withdrawn and dependent on her support worker.

When the school introduced Yoga’d Up classes, Izzie was reluctant to join in at first and unfriendly to the teacher. This soon changed when she discovered, along with the rest of us, that she had a natural aptitude for yoga! Children with Downs Syndrome are often good at yoga, as they are naturally very flexible. Izzie is incredibly flexible and this has generated a very different response from her peers, exclamations of “Wow! Look at Izzie!”

Izzie has responded to this by enjoying her time in the limelight. She is now regarded with a great deal more respect by her peers, has gained in confidence and started to enjoy school more again.

(This story has been provided with permission from Izzy and her family).

Olympic Torch Carrier Nominee, Fenella Lindsell, On Why PE Doesn’t Need To Be Competitive

In this week’s Scrubbing Up, BBC’s Sports and exercise medicine expert, Dr Andrew Franklyn-Miller asks whether the opportunity to encourage children to be more active is being missed in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics. He warns that the physical competence of future generations is being put at risk because of a failure to give PE the same priority as other subjects in the school curriculum. Contrasting the support available for children who struggle in maths or English with the approach taken to physical development, cardiovascular fitness and co-ordination, Dr Franklyn-Miller argues that there should be compulsory tests for key physical skills at each of the key stages as children progress through school.

With one in three 10 and 11-year-olds in England overweight or obese, childhood obesity is a serious problem. However the problem goes far beyond childhood obesity and the associated poor health outcomes. Recently Sally Goddard Blythe, Director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, concluded that up to half of children were not ready for school at the age of five because of their “sedentary lifestyles”. This was because pre-school children found it difficult to grip pencils properly, sit still, stand up straight and even catch a ball after failing to develop key physical and communication skills at a young age.

We’ve written previously about the critical links between the development of motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination and the development of literacy and numeracy skills. The development of fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination is similarly essential to sporting success. To reach age appropriate targets in the development of left and right brain activity, children need to practice mid-line activities such as crawling, marching and balancing. For some children, developing these skills is particularly challenging so making this fun is key.

That’s why YogaBugs developed its 10 week Impact & Change course for primary schools. This course has been devised to improve children’s physical, emotional and social development whilst giving schools real results. At the beginning and end of the programme, we evaluate the children on skills such as flexibility, balance, co-ordination and concentration. At the end of the course, the results are sent to the school with a full report showing their improvement. The course combines story-telling and magical adventures with yoga inspired moves so that children are encouraged to develop essential developmental motor skills.

We’re concerned about the physical competence and health outcomes of this and future generations and that’s why we’re absolutely committed and passionate about changing children’s lives. Our number one priority is nurturing a love and appreciation for physical exercise and healthy living in our young children. Competition can come later!

YogaBugs Mission Control Launches New Classes, Website and Blog!

We’ve had so many requests for children’s yoga classes that we’ve put together a new programme of classes to make yoga accessible to children of walking age through to 12 years of age. To help to launch this programme, we’ve designed a brand new website to include a class booking system as well as this blog.

Using dynamic storytelling, acted out through safe yoga postures, YogaBugs takes children on imaginary adventures such as safari expeditions to the African jungle, intergalactic space missions and undersea adventures. Classes are a complete form of physical exercise in a safe and non-competitive environment, taking place in private venues as well as schools, nurseries and children’s centres.  Because of this, they can be ideal for children with special educational needs or a physical disability.

As more and more people asked us how younger children can get the yoga bug, we decided to re-design our classes to meet the different learning needs of pre-school children. These three new programmes – MiniBugs, MightyBugs and MegaBugs – are especially designed meet the concentration levels and social needs of children from walking age to 7 years. Meanwhile our Yoga’d classes are structured to be physically challenging, mentally stimulating and entertaining. Yoga’d up classes offer a variety of postures, partner poses as well as fun games. As with our YogaBugs classes, children end the class with relaxation and visualisation techniques. The combination of all these ingredients help and support them through a time of pre-teen change and beyond to adolescence.

To complement this new programme of classes, we’ve launched a new website, which is underpinned by an electronic class booking system – http://www.yogabugs.com. This is to make it easy for you to find out about and sign up to classes. If there aren’t already classes in your area, please do request one via the website and we’ll let you know as soon as they’re in your area. You can also download YogaBugs activities, stories featuring favourite YogaBugs adventures as well as colouring-in sheets. You’ll find these in the “Fun Zone” at http://www.yogabugs.com/funzone.php?page_details=funzone&page_name=funzone. Keeping checking back as we’re continually updating them.

This new blog includes all the latest news as well as useful tips for parents, nurseries, schools and children’s centres, nurseries, schools and children’s centres to use with their children. The aim of the blog is to promote children’s yoga to millions of people via the web as well as to act as a gateway to a range of educational resources and inspiring ideas.

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