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8 Ways to Get Schools to Add a Kids Yoga Class

There was a time when recess time during a school day was thought of as a way for kids to run around and burn off extra energy so they could get back to sitting still for book learning. Now days, thanks to scientific research, we know exercise is good not only for the body but also the brain. Physical activity improves memory in the elderly and encourages neuronal growth in the young.

Some schools and daycares are very enthusiastic about kids yoga. Others might be interested but need convincing. As kids yoga teachers it would be great to have a few scientifically supported reasons we could present to schools to convince them to add a yoga class for kids. What if we gathered a group of scientific researchers investigating the effects of exercise on kids’ brains and asked them to form a consensus on the benefits of exercise, what would they tell us?

Earlier this year at the aptly named Copenhagen Consensus Conference, researchers from eight different countries came together to issue a joint statement on the effect of exercise on kids’ health.

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Taking exercise breaks, like running games in the gym, are good for kids academically.

They agreed on the easily guessable, common sense, stuff such as that exercise improves kids’ bones, muscles and hearts. They also agreed that the fitness levels of these in kids is a good predictor of whether or not the they will go on to develop heart disease, diabetes or other chronic diseases later in life.

But the Copenhagen group didn’t stop at talking only about the physical effects of exercise; they also discussed the mental and emotional effects of exercise.  They agreed that:

  1. Physical activity improves brain structure, brain function and cognition.
  2. Physical activity before, during and after school improves performance in other school work.
  3. Learning to master physical movements improves performance in school work
  4. Regular physical activity can improve kids’ self-esteem and relationships with peers and adults
  5. Focused physical activity creates a good motivational environment for kids
  6. Exercise programs promote life skills and core values in kids

Two additional points that the Copenhagen Consensus group agreed on are worth highlighting. First, they agreed that a single session of physical activity helps kid’s brains. That means a single game of soccer, a single recess of tag, a single yoga class can result in measurable benefits to kids mental activity.

The second important point the group agreed on was that spending time being physically active doesn’t sacrifice performance in school work. On the contrary, spending time on physical activity helps overall school performance. In other words, schools (and parents) have absolutely no good reason to declare they don’t have time to put kids in exercise programs because they want kids to focus on school work. Exercise increased performance in school work.

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Even an exercise break in the classroom is good for kids brains.

As yoga teachers we can stress the importance of exercise by asking: do you want kids to study for the sake of studying, or do you want kids to improve their scholastic performance? Because if the aim is to create better students, then kids should spend some time with a ball instead of a pen and some time doing downward dog instead of sitting behind a desk.

You can read the full statement by The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016 here.

For ideas to bring kids yoga into schools, check out these two resources:

 

1 Comment
  1. Love this article. We need this in our schools. I would love to see Hypnotists on staff at every school addressing in a dynamic natural way : obesity, bullying, anxiety, confidence, test performance, addiction etc.

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