The ancient practice of Yoga has become more and more popular over the years. It’s safe to say that most people understand the many benefits it brings.
People of all ages can benefit from the balance that Yoga brings to their mind, body and spirit. But have we embraced Yoga as a path of wellbeing for children?
Luckily, there are a growing number of teachers and care givers that understand the benefits of mindfulness and gentle Yoga practices for children.
One of those wonderful people is Hannah Brandys. I can’t help but feel inspired by Hannah’s determination and her wish to introduce mindfulness and Yoga to mainstream education.
Hannah has extensive experience in teaching Yoga to children and you can find out more about her on her Yoga website.
I wanted to find out more about Yoga in general, but Hannah’s story struck a chord with me. It seems that these days a lot of children suffer from stress and mental health related disorders.
Could Yoga help in making children stronger physically and mentally? I asked Hannah a few questions and she was kind enough to give me a really good insight into her work.
Would you mind telling me a bit about how you started yoga? What age were you and what got you interested?
“Yoga found me. I think I was about 23 years old when I joined my local authority gym.
I do not like the gym at all but decided that the Pilates class was on at a good time for me to attend weekly. I got into a good routine with it but one day the instructor left and they replaced the slot with yoga. I reluctantly gave it a go as otherwise my membership would go to waste.
I really had very low expectations and didn’t think I would like it at all. I thought it would be far too spiritual, slow and not good for fitness. I was completely wrong! I was very lucky to have had such an amazing instructor to introduce me to Yoga.
I became so interested in it because I loved the way I felt after a class. I was so relaxed, yet felt like I had a really good work out. I am so grateful to that instructor and everyone that I have worked with since.”
What age groups do you teach?
“I have decided to focus on teaching Yoga to Primary school children. I am a qualified teacher, specialising in Early Years Education so it feels only natural to me to continue to work with children.
Also, I found as an ordinary school teacher I did not feel like I was making a huge impact on children’s wider experiences and wellbeing. Their ability to cope with the world is the foundation for their future.
I wish I knew the coping strategies I know now when I was a child. So I aim to pass on my knowledge to as many young people as possible.”
If you could just name one benefit of yoga, what would your answer be?
“Acceptance. Yoga allows you to accept your challenges whether they are physical or mental.
Yoga is not a competition with others or yourself. You do what you can do on that particular day. You enjoy your time in your class to yourself. You always feel content after a yoga class.”
Would you say that yoga has helped you personally and in what way?
“Yes, yes, yes! Yoga has helped me both physically and mentally. The postures (or Asanas) and very strengthening and keep my body toned and I am much more flexible now.
I never thought in a millions years I would ever do a head stand. However, the most difference yoga has made to me is to my wellbeing and belief in myself.
Life has its ups and downs, everyone has their own worries or challenges, maybe not everyday but everyone will face a difficult time in their lives, so if you feel like you need some support I recommend going to a local yoga or meditation class.”
If you had to describe what yoga is, what would you say?
“Yoga is restorative. Like most things until you have experienced it you wouldn’t understand.
Yoga unites your body and mind and balances them. Yoga has restored balance to my life and I feel my mind is a more clear and calm place because of my practice.”
What are you plans for the future?
“I am always learning and currently undertaking further training courses so that in the future I can help even more people; starting with teens, then pregnant women, babies as well as Hot Yoga.
In September I hope to run a class with teachers after school to support them at the end of each week.”
Who should practice yoga?
“Everyone. It does not matter what level you are, how your body looks, how your body moves, everyone will benefit from yoga whether you attend multiple classes a week or just one every now and again.
It’s your practice, it is your time, enjoy.”
Hannah has also designed her own range of Yoga inspired t-shirts. She uses the same manufacturer that we use for our t-shirts at Sweet Life and Lemons. In fact, it was through Hannah that I found out about their organic and sustainable manufacturing progress. You can find Hannah’s amazing designs on her Yeaps clothing site.
'Yoga is not a competition with others or yourself. You do what you can do on that particular day. You enjoy your time in your class to yourself. You always feel content after a yoga class.' ~~ Hannah BrandysClick To Tweet
The many benefits of Yoga for children
Yoga is a very helpful tool that can have a positive impact on children. A national survey in the USA found that 3% of U.S. children (1.7 million) did yoga as of 2012 — that’s 400,000 more children than in 2007.
I couldn’t find any studies for the UK, but an article I found in the Telegraph, suggests that Yoga and mindfulness “are becoming increasingly common in the run of the school day as more schools introduce yoga and mindfulness classes either as part of the PE curriculum or as an optional lunchtime or afterschool club, positioning them as a nurturing and fun way for children to develop body awareness and learn tools to keep them calm, present and happy.”
A University of Massachusetts study published in 2014 showed overall improvements in primary school aged children’s social interactions with classmates, attention span, academic performance, ability to deal with stress and anxiety as well as boosting their confidence, self-esteem and overall mood, after doing 10 weeks of classroom yoga.
Recent research studies also suggest that yoga can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by improving the core symptoms of ADHD, such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It can also boost school performance in children with ADHD.
The many benefits of yoga for children make the case for incorporating yoga and mindfulness in mainstream schooling stronger than ever.
Yoga can help your child to:
- manage stress through breathing exercises
- develop and build better concentration
- increase their confidence and body awareness
- be more health-conscious
- increase their self-esteem
- find relaxation and coping strategies
- improve core symptoms of ADHD
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