5 Benefits of Yoga for Kids with Chronic Health Conditions
Most adults have been introduced to the positive benefits of yoga practice, but did you know that kids can benefit from yoga too?! CoachArt provides high-quality arts and athletics lessons for kids impacted by chronic illnesses. We have found that yoga is one of the athletic skills that children want to learn the most…and for good reason! Physical activity is an important part of a child’s overall health, and yoga offers numerous benefits for physical, mental and emotional health. If you’re wondering if yoga might be right for your child, today we’re going to be looking at 5 top benefits of yoga for kids with chronic health conditions…
#1: Yoga Helps Kids Manage Stress and Anxiety
Stretching, poses, and learning to focus on the breath relieves muscle tension and promotes mindfulness in children. For kids with chronic conditions who may be experiencing higher levels of stress, the benefits of yoga for kids help them deal positively with stress and anxiety. Learn more about recognizing signs of stress in children and get practical tips for stress management here.
#2: Yoga Helps Promote a Healthy Body
Participating in a gentle yoga practice may lessen pain associated with chronic conditions, such as juvenile arthritis, and helps kids build their strength, flexibility, and coordination. Breathing exercises also strengthen the lungs, increase lung capacity and pulmonary efficiency which can be extremely beneficial for children with asthma.
According to The American Osteopathic Association, there are many physical health benefits of yoga. A few key benefits of yoga for kids include:
- increased flexibility
- increased muscle strength and tone
- improved respiration, energy and vitality
- maintaining a balanced metabolism
- weight reduction
- cardio and circulatory health
- improved athletic performance
- protection from injury
#3: Yoga Offers Positive Mental Health Benefits
In an article published by Front Psychiatry, researches reflect on the positive mental health potential of Yoga for children. Some mental health benefits of yoga for kids include:
- improved mood
- increased self-regulation
- mental clarity
- increased body awareness
#4: Yoga Improves Kid’s Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Practicing yoga releases endorphins that combat feelings of stress and depression that children may be experiencing. Endorphins lower stress hormones and can increase a child’s sense of wellbeing and promote self-esteem. While many children benefit from group athletics, there is no “competitive” component to yoga. Yoga focuses on self-awareness in a gentle way that can increase kids’ self-confidence and promote a positive self-image.
#5: Gentle Yoga is Inclusive of All Abilities
Gentle yoga allows children of all abilities to participate. Whether one-on-one or in a group setting, instructors can incorporate poses and movements that are appropriate for a child’s specific needs. Yoga allows kids to do poses in a way that feels right for their bodies while improving strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility.
Some general modifications may include:
- use of a sticky mat for children with balance issues or motor disabilities
- props like blocks or blankets
- sensory items
Tips FOR CHECKING IN WITH A CHILD
Before the Pose: Ask the student for their thoughts on how they would like to modify a pose if necessary.
During the Pose: Check in with the student during the pose if necessary, and revise or make additional accommodations as needed.
After the Session: Check in with the child after the session to see what went well and what they might like to try differently next time.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR INCLUSION TIPS:
CoachArt Special Needs Inclusion offers tips for communicating with special needs children and inclusion tips for kids who need different accommodations.
PBS Parents offers excellent general Tips for Doing Yoga with Children with Disabilities.
Mind, body and soul, the benefits of yoga for kids are numerous. Yoga helps kids of all abilities to manage stress and focus on breathing, awareness, concentration, balance, and self-confidence. Step-by-step instruction and doing the activity with a child can help the child feel more comfortable participating.
What are your favorite benefits of yoga for kids? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your experience with us in the comments.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR FAMILIES IMPACTED BY CHILDHOOD CHRONIC ILLNESS
Since 2001, CoachArt has matched volunteer coaches with students for one-on-one or group lessons in arts and athletics. Our vision is that one day every family impacted by chronic illness will be connected to a community of support and an opportunity to learn and grow together.
CoachArt offers free art and athletic lessons to chronically ill children and their siblings between the ages of 5-18 in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego. If your child has been diagnosed with a chronic condition, we invite you to fill out a get in touch to learn if CoachArt is right for your child.
Ways to Help
Do you have an artistic or athletic skill you would like to share with a child impacted by chronic illness? Become a CoachArt Volunteer.