By Dr Himani Khanna

Yoga is an art and science of healthy living. The practice of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of civilisation. This spiritual discipline or practice is based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. Yoga has four broad classifications: karma yoga, where we utilise the body; bhakti yoga, where we utilise the emotions; gyana yoga, where we utilise the mind and intellect; and kriya yoga, where we utilise the energy.

Our children live in a very fast world of busy parents, school pressures, incessant lessons, video games, malls, and competitive sports. We usually don’t think of these influences as stressful for our kids, but often they are. This bustling pace of our child’s life can have a profound impact on their inner peace and joy. Yoga can help counter these pressures. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with physical activity and teaches techniques for relaxation which can help them navigate life’s challenges with more ease.

Physically, yoga exercises are known to enhance flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, it enhances concentration and a sense of calmness improves. Doing yoga, children exercise, play, connect more deeply with nature and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world surrounding them. Teaching Yoga to children can be fun as telling them the names of various animal poses while mimicking their sounds, asking them to imagine themselves as a tree in the “tree-pose” asana can make the teaching and practice fun for children while building stillness, balance, flexibility, focus, peace, grace, connection, health, and well-being.

Practicing yoga facilitates a greater release of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) from the thalamus; GABA acts as a sort of “grand inhibitor” of the brain, suppressing neural activity and helps the body and mind to relax. It can mimic the effects of anti-anxiety drugs. Yoga can actually work to help to “reset” your brain to a calmer, more collected state.

With schools being closed and many extracurricular activities having stopped for kids they are glued to the screen for longer hours leading to health problems like insomnia, disturbed sleep patterns and obesity. Hence, it is important to introduce children to a kind of physical activity which can regulate their biorhythms. Yoga is known to help beat the symptoms of insomnia and depression and boost your energy, happiness, and encourage a healthy weight. In addition, the rise of constant social media has made it even more difficult for children to simply sit quietly and think, or just exist quietly for a few moments. Children are also dealing with as much pressure as ever to succeed in school, and perhaps even more pressure from the added competition that our increasingly globalised world introduces to them.

Research shows that Yoga contributes to enhanced physical and mental well-being, and may improve resilience, mood, and self-regulation skills. Yoga can be introduced as a subject in educational institutes, as we need a herd of resilient adolescents and youth as future generations.

(The writer is Developmental Pediatrician & Co-Founder, Continua Kids.)



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