Last year, Petsworth Elementary School launched a morning yoga class for students and parents. Susie Dunaway, special education paraprofessional and Certified Yoga Teacher, taught the class every Monday morning. Both she and teachers who attended saw the positive impacts the activity had on the students who participated. Here are five benefits of yoga for kids.
Petsworth gym teacher Margaret Watkins noticed that students in her groups were more attentive after yoga.
“The practice helps with focus,” she said. “It gave students strategies to use on their own during the day or on tests.”
Other teachers noted students consciously closing their eyes and controlling their breath during testing.
“It was a real eye-opener,” said one educator. “What a difference!”
The non-competitive nature of yoga gives students a chance to move at their own pace. Dunaway and her students celebrated each time a kid mastered a new pose or skill.
“It’s such a sense of accomplishment to learn something new,” she said.
Watkins added, “Yoga lets students move a little at the time to reach their own goals. It can be a gradual process where each child moves at his or her own pace.”
Dunaway noticed that several shy students in her class opened up more. They found it easier to share thoughts with the group as the weeks progressed.
Improved Speech Skills
Speech teacher, Erica Price, found that her students who participated improved their receptive language skills as well. She took part in the class to be an additional presence to support Dunaway as more students joined.
“They had an easier time listening and following directions,” she said.
Price also noted that the breathwork helped her students who stuttered. She quickly saw that the benefits of yoga for kids was well worth her time.
Additional Opportunities for Wellness
Watkins is always delighted to see her students try other activities.
“The yoga classes exposed kids to another form of fitness to help vary the way they learn to exercise and care for themselves,” she said.
Teachers saw how students incorporated yoga into their own movement throughout the day. Some students pursued more yoga-type exercises throughout the week. Others would demonstrate their new skills to their friends on the playground.
Parents reported that students who took the class used the breathing and centering strategies shared each session to control their emotions. Other students were able to tame their shyness and be more open with peers.
“So many kids carry tension in their shoulders,” Dunaway said. “You can visibly see them relax during class.”
Several teachers at the school immediately noticed the benefits of yoga for kids in their classes. Price even noted that she learned some lessons from taking the classes herself.
“On a personal level, I started the day with a boost of energy, and I didn’t get sick as much this winter,” she said. “After seeing the effects yoga had on the children, I’m way more empathetic to kids who are wired a little differently.”