Yoga For Kids - Yoga Can Help

Author // Marsha Therese Danzig

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Yoga Can Help

Here are some of the additional challenges American kids are facing, and how yoga can help.

  • Competition. When children are taught that their value is measured by external rewards, they can lose motivation to achieve unless they believe they will get something out of it. Yoga teaches them to appreciate the moment, finding intrinsic reward and self-determination.

  • Trauma. When children are traumatized, whether by a mishap on the playground or physical or emotional abuse at home, their young nervous systems get locked. This can result in isolation, aggression, violence, stomachaches, headaches and more serious illnesses. Yoga soothes and nurtures them. It calms the nervous system, boosts immunity, harmonizes the self, and helps children rebalance as they navigate through difficult emotions. Yoga turns on the parasympathetic system, which reduces ADD and fosters cooperative environments.

  • Anxiety. Anxiety can be caused by stress, competition, trauma, lack of sleep, overscheduling, too much homework, relationship issues at school, tests and family problems. Yoga, especially through the practices of creative visualization, meditation, slow breathing and deep forward bends, can help reduce anxiety and recondition the nervous system, allowing children to form their own inner connections and self-empowerment.

  • ADD/ADHD. Children with ADD or ADHD have an inability to stay focused, be comfortable in their surroundings, have ease in social situations, and follow through. Yoga, because of its slow progressive methods to engage the entire being, teaches children how to regulate themselves. It builds an internal sense of rhythm and allows children to express their energy creatively.

  • Violence and Aggression. There are many causes of the negative emotions that trigger violence and aggression in children. Yoga can provide a safe place for the child to find his inner language and experience healing, on his own terms. The practice of “loving compassion” is the foundation of any good yoga program. Children’s social-emotional development depends on a balanced, harmonious learning environment, which yoga creates. Teaching loving compassion has tremendous health and societal benefits. For example, levels of the “anti-aging hormone,” DHEA, are raised astronomically in people who live by loving compassion. These people also have lower cortisol production, thus allowing them to live more fully in the parasympathetic nervous system.

  • Inability to Express Emotions. When a child does not experience the necessary steps of social-emotional development, mental illness can develop and aggressive behavior can surface. Frozen feelings keep children uninspired, bored, restless and experiencing poor health in bones, joints and organs. Yoga engages all the senses. It creates a loving learning environment so children can relax, be more receptive, and develop confidence, curiosity and comfort in relating to others. A relaxed, receptive body produces a relaxed, receptive brain, willing and able to learn.

  • Childhood Obesity. Children who suffer from obesity develop health issues traditionally belonging to adults. Among other problems, they can lose their innate ability to make creative choices. They can develop language-skill issues and lose their vitality. Yoga for children, which involves creative play, gets kids off their seats and onto the yoga mat. Their brains develop more rapidly. Learning coordination in movement increases brain power, according to a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Movement and creative play stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates healthy bone growth.

Universal Yoga

Yoga is a simple, cost-effective tool that any child can practice. It needs to be available to all children everywhere, not just the children whose parents can afford it. Would it not ultimately cost a lot less for society to offer children yoga than to constantly drag them to doctors, psychiatrists, case workers and diet camps? Would it not be more beneficial to teach a child to breathe her way through life, rather than condition her with medication that she might not actually need (and never mind the side effects)? Would it not make more sense to teach parents and caregivers to slow down, do less and enjoy play with their children, rather than running around every day from one activity to another? What about teaching our children to live in nature, rather than live through virtual experiences, such as video games and television? Children need connection. They need family time.

Imagine teaching and modeling empathy, loving compassion, self-acceptance and kindness for the Earth and its inhabitants. If we practice our yoga through the motions of our daily lives, it would be the greatest gift we could give our children.

Marsha DanzigAbout the Author:

Marsha Therese Danzig is the founder of Color Me Yoga for Children, an international 200-hour yoga school and children’s yoga program committed to bringing the gift of yoga to all children everywhere. You can read more about Color Me Yoga at

Pathways Issue 28 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #28.

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