Yoga is defined as the union of mind and body, yoga includes everything from simple deep breaths to mellow seated stretches to complex strength-building poses.
Physical benefits of yoga include improved flexibility, balance, strength and cardiovascular health. Study also shows mental and emotional benefits to youth from ages 5 to 18, including decreased anxiety, boosted concentration and memory, improved confidence and self-esteem, and better academic performance.
The goal of yoga is to generate self-awareness, which teaches kids to recognize their emotions. While it doesn’t erase feelings, yoga can give them a way to process frustration, anger or sorrow in a healthy way. This in turn helps kids learn to act thoughtfully rather than react impulsively.
Kids who practice yoga can learn to tune into their body’s sensations — like butterflies in the stomach, clenched fists or sweaty palms — and then use breath and movement to address uncomfortable feelings before they get out of control.
In a study on the effects of a five-week mindfulness program (comprising breathing exercises), sixth-graders reported feeling less stress and fewer negative emotions after the program. Brain scans revealed reduced activation of their amygdala, the region in the brain that processes fear.