Our children face a world full of screens, information overload and choice choice choice. We have, in reaction, seen a huge uptake in yoga for children and families. Yoga now almost mainstream being practised by everyone from Jennifer Aniston to the winners on the Apprentice! Long gone is the image of the WI offering a space in the village hall. With bespoke studios sprouting up all over the country, hot on the heels of America, yoga, as Bikram Choudry once said: “is big business..”
Enter the child.
Now my children have always been around yoga. “Are they nice and calm and chilled out?” people ask. “I imagine they are, aren’t they?”
Well no, they are not. In fact you couldn’t have met madder children! Anyhow, the thing that yoga does and why it is so popular and successful and was originally only adopted by the older and wiser generation was that it makes you happy.
Yoga is the key to happiness. Accepting that life is a journey, that nothing is forever, not holding onto possessions with a vice-like grip or holding onto anger, arguments or differences is yoga. Being in the moment. That is yoga.
And all those children around us who are popping into school to be ‘educated’ by us, are in the moment. Society is attempting to push them right the way out of it.
Rebecca, a 13 year old school-girl who regularly attends our classes along with her mum, is facing the pressures of every modern-day teenager, she enjoys the non-competitive spirit of a yoga class.
“It lets you focus on your own practice and your mind goes into a sort of bubble for the lesson.”
Her mum reports it makes them both feel calm and safe and Rebecca has “just stopped having those anxiety attacks at school”. She has moved on to a new chapter in her life. She is more confident and less anxious at school and she has fallen in love with her mat.
Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa—an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital—has been studying the effects of yoga on health. A life-long practitioner of Kundalini and the author of Your Brain On Yoga, Khalsa believes—and has proven repeatedly—that focusing on the mind/body connection can have measurably positive results on insomnia, chronic stress, PTSD, and anxiety disorders.
As he explains, “We are facing an epidemic of non-communicable lifestyle diseases—obesity, cancer, depression, type II diabetes—modern humans just cannot currently function. It stems from an inability to deal with stress, and an inability to be aware of our minds and bodies.”
While Khalsa believes that yoga is an effective treatment, he believes its true power is in the preventative, and so most of his research in recent years has been on the effect of yoga and meditation on school kids—after all, according to Khalsa, studies indicate that 80% of kids will have some sort of mental health issue. He’s run a series of studies on students where half of the kids do traditional P.E., while the other half do yoga—the children track and report on their mood and other key factors throughout. The results have been pretty staggeringly pro-yoga: Almost all kids reported feeling increasingly resilient, focused, and better able to emotionally handle and deal with stress—a toolset that might have a profound affect on their ability to handle the complexities of life in an ongoing way.
But see for yourselves, just by simply getting your kids to sit still for a second and take in a lovely deep breath, you have such an amazing response!
Our breath is all we have, our bodies are an expression of how we live….. we are beyond our bodies if we could only see that!
I cannot wait for the day my children share an adult yoga class with me but for now I will share family yoga and keep living with them in the moment!