According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, anxiety is the leading health issue among children, even elementary school children. Sara Dimerman, a Toronto-based psychologist, told the CBC that school environment, peer pressure, and parental decisions may be at the root of increasing childhood anxiety.
What can parents do to support their child and reduce their anxiety? One study suggests that yoga may help.
Studying Yoga in Children with Anxiety
The study compared two groups of anxious third-grade children. One group received normal care for their anxiety, which included counseling from a social worker and other activities.
The second group of children received mindfulness instruction and participated in ten sessions of yoga for forty minutes before the start of school, over the course of either the fall or spring.
Results indicated that yoga had a positive effect on the children. Those third graders who participated in yoga and mindfulness had, on average, higher emotional quality of life and scored better on a psychosocial questionnaire than their peers who did not participate in yoga.
Researchers also engaged with teachers to discuss the benefits of yoga. Teachers found yoga to be a useful tool in the classroom. According to the study’s authors, teachers “reported using yoga more often each week, and throughout each day in class, following the professional development component of intervention.”
Other research has found that children receive similar benefits from yoga and mindfulness practices. Children with ADD or ADHD, Asperger’s, and depression may all see symptom improvement after yoga. Research also indicates that the emotional benefits of yoga and mindfulness may last for the long-term.
Yoga for Your Child
In the study, researchers designed a yoga program which included, “breathing exercises, guided relaxation, and several Vinyasa and Ashtanga poses appropriate for third graders.”
Our Hatha and Restorative yoga classes fit the bill, with gentle and calming movements that are meant to reduce anxiety and stress. Our yoga instructors can adjust these programs to be achievable for young children. You may also maximize the benefits of yoga by having your child attend classes at an especially stressful or challenging times in their life.
Generally, children tend feel more anxiety at the start of the school year, as well as when they transition into key school years such as grade three, six, and nine. The study’s authors chose grade three students precisely because this year is a challenging transition.
“Our initial work found that many kids expressed anxious feelings in third grade as the classroom work becomes more developmentally complex,” Bazzano said. “Even younger children are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, especially around test time.”
If your child is struggling with anxiety, or facing a challenge or transition, signing them up for a yoga class may help them self-regulate their mood and flourish. Contact us today for more information on our yoga programs for children.