We all know the story by now. The wild, ADD child running around in a fit of confusion. The exasperated parents resorting to pharmaceuticals to help the child focus. With all the electronic and sugary stimuli that surround kids these days, its no wonder that many have trouble concentrating. But there are many ways to help children develop concentration. One that has proven the most effective and affordable for me is Yoga.
Yoga Calms the Mind
One of the many benefits I have experienced from practicing Yoga is more mental focus. Yoga and meditation teach us to observe without reacting, to be fully engaged in the present moment without being distracted by thoughts of the past or future.
Regular Yoga practice improves our memory and cognitive functioning, and makes room for more mental clarity and responsiveness. This has been proven in adults for ages, and some studies are starting to show that it has the same benefits for children.
Children are more malleable than adults. And while this means they are more sensitive to overwhelming visual and auditory stimulation, it also means they can more easily learn new techniques and behaviors.
Raising my two daughters would have been a lot more challenging if I had not had Yoga to help them be more focused, present, and attentive.
Practicing Yoga requires that a child focus all her attention on her breath and the movements of her body. She needs to be fully focused on the present moment to follow the directions, which inspires more presence. With consistent practice, this presence in Yoga translates to more presence in all aspects of life, especially learning and development.
Yoga practice increases childrens ability to concentrate because it affects the nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems. Children who practice Yoga breathe more deeply, and produce fewer of the stress hormones that damage young nervous systems and interrupt the ability to learn.
Yoga helps to balance the endocrine system, which regulates the release of hormones. Hormones are part of what creates mood, which determines childrens receptiveness and ability to receive and retain information.
Getting Started with Childrens Yoga
Many Yoga studios and community centers offer affordable Yoga classes for children. Learning in a group environment is helpful for children, as they can mimic the other kids and enjoy the group energy. It can feel more like a social activity than something they have to do.
If classes are inaccessible for you, there are a variety of DVDs, online videos, and books about childrens Yoga that you can share with your child. Even just a few minutes each day of breathing deeply and exploring a few simple Yoga poses together with your child can have tremendous benefits.
I loved the Yoga moments I got to share with my girls when they were growing up. Those times became a special part of their childhood that brought us closer together as a family while helping them excel in school and life. Bedtimes were especially memorable where I could take them through a guided relaxation and actually watch them fall asleep. There were also times when they wanted to give the relaxation and I fell asleep.
My advice would be to keep it simple at first, so she does not get overwhelmed. Frame Yoga as something fun for your child to explore with you, not a forced thing or punishment. Find a practice that includes balance poses, which have the most direct effect on improving concentration. And encourage your child to focus her gaze on something while she is practicing, like a poster on the wall or a plant, to help develop her concentration even more.
Practicing Yoga can help improve your childrens concentration because it teaches us to quiet and focus the mind. It also balances the nervous and endocrine systems, making learning easier. Over time, Yoga can help your children learn more, retain and recall information, and be able to focus better in all aspects of life.