Elementary teachers have advocated implementing programs into the curriculum that help children focus. That is why, despite some concerns about the connection of yoga to spiritual growth, yoga has become an accepted practice in physical education classrooms across the United States.
People practice yoga not just for its physical fitness value, but also because, simply put, it gives kids the time to enjoy being a child. Taking time to stretch, breathe deeply and focus not only gets the blood circulating, it also relaxes the body and stimulates the mind.
Yoga curriculum in children’s education is important for one primary reason. Many children around the world, particularly those affected by attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders, have trouble concentrating in class. And since yoga actively practices focus, studies like the one performed in 2003 by researchers at California State University, Los Angeles, indicate a positive correlation between grades, behavior and yoga practice. In other words, children who practice yoga are more likely to be better behaved and to earn higher grades than their peers who do not practice yoga.
Most schools that incorporate yoga into their curriculum do so after stripping it of any religious overtones; for example, meditation time in schools becomes imagination time. Since kids generally take yoga less seriously than adults do, it turns out children can still reap the benefits of focused relaxation from a session of stretches and poses that help train the mind to concentrate.
Another reason that children need yoga is that it is a physical activity where overt competition or athletic skills are not necessary. Even young kids who do not like gym or game time can appreciate an active yoga session they can excel in.
Another added benefit of incorporating yoga into the curriculum is that teachers can utilize the warm-up and stretching poses for story or learning time. For example, an elementary teacher could incorporate a history lesson by walking the kids through stretches while describing a day in the life of a Native American tribal chief or of a young girl in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. Combining physical activity with mental stimulation will keep kids engaged with the material even while they release energy and learn to slow down.
Clearly, adding yoga to children’s education can help them stay on task, score higher on tests, and remember information longer. And since children need to do well in these areas to be successful in school, incorporating yoga into the curriculum is a no-brainer!