Why Yoga and Kids Go Together

http://www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness/sport-and-fitness/why-yoga-and-kids-go-together/

What Exactly is Yoga?

Yoga has been around for thousands of years. Yoga is a practice that started in India, and is now very popular in the United States and around the world. It has gained a lot of attention lately — maybe because it is a fun and easy way for both adults and kids to feel healthy and happy.

The word “yoga” means “union” in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. Quite simply, yoga is the “union” or coming together of mind (thoughts and feelings) and physical body. Many people feel an overall sense of well-being when they practice yoga.

There are many aspects to yoga. In short, yoga is a system of physical exercises or postures (called asanas). These asanas build strength, flexibility and confidence. Yoga is also about breathing (called pranayama), which helps calm and refresh the body and mind. We are going to focus on these basic two aspects of yoga, but there are many other parts to practicing yoga. For more information about yoga and young children, visit Next Generation Yoga.

Yoga for Kids

Yoga is about exploring and learning in a fun, safe and playful way. Yoga and kids are a perfect match. Here is what children (and adults!) can learn from yoga:

  • Yoga teaches us about our bodies.
    When we practice the physical postures or exercises (called asanas), we learn how to move more freely and with greater ease and awareness. These postures help our bodies become strong and flexible.
  • Yoga teaches us how to breathe better.
    When we breathe deeply and fully (called pranayama) and become more aware, we can bring peacefulness or energy to our bodies.
  • Yoga teaches us how to use our energy more effectively.
    When we practice yoga, we learn how to use the life force energy in our bodies (called prana) to feel more relaxed, focused, or motivated.
  • Yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind.
    When we practice yoga, we learn how to be still. This helps us to listen with attention and make good decisions.
  • Yoga teaches us about balance.
    When we practice yoga, we learn to be more aware about the need for balance in our lives. This could mean equal stretching on the left and right sides of our bodies or making sure we balance our very busy time with equal quiet time and relaxation.
  • Yoga teaches us to be the “boss” of our bodies.
    Yoga teaches us to listen to our bodies by modifying or changing poses that are too hard or cause pain. (We will talk about how to modify poses in a later section.)
  • Yoga teaches us about taking care of ourselves.
    Yoga is a great way to move our bodies and feel healthy. And teaching children how to take care of themselves is one way to show love. As with all forms of exercise, a good yoga practice can mean a good night’s sleep!

The beauty of yoga is that children can practice alone, with a friend or with a group. Many schools are now teaching yoga to young children, and there are many choices of after-school or weekend classes for kids and their families. Everyone can enjoy yoga – from tots to great-grandparents!

Professional organizations that focus on children also support the idea behind yoga. For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and The National Association of the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) recommend that children should participate in activities that support the development of the whole child. This is exactly what yoga is about!

http://www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness/sport-and-fitness/why-yoga-and-kids-go-together/

Kids With Anxiety Disorders ‘Significantly’ Benefit From Mindfulness Exercises By Changing Brain Activity

http://www.medicaldaily.com/anxiety-disorders-mindfulness-exercises-brain-activity-392658

Jul 24, 2016 06:27 PM By 

Anxiety disorders plague more than one in four adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18, and many of them are treated with antidepressants and other medications to try and help them live a relatively healthy childhood. But a team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati set out to explore other treatment options that focus more on the mind and less on pharmaceutical solutions.

Their study, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, recruited nine participants who were diagnosed with anxiety disorders between 9 and 16 years of age. These conditions included generalized, social, and separation anxiety disorder as well as having a parent with bipolar disorder. Over the course of 12 weeks, each participant underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans while they practiced mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a wide range of theraputic techiniques that include meditation, yoga, and learning how to pay nonjudgmental attention to one’s life.

“These integrative approaches expand traditional treatments and offer new strategies for coping with psychological distress,” said the study’s co-author Sian Cotton, director of the UC’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, in a statement. “Mindfulness-based therapeutic interventionspromote the use of meditative practices to increase present-moment awareness of conscious thoughts, feelings, and body sensations in an effort to manage negative experiences more effectively.”

Yoga Treatment

Mindfulness therapies may provide a treatment for childhood anxiety disorders.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay, public domain 

Children who are at a high risk for bipolar disorder or other anxiety disorders, such as the participants, often have poor coping skills when confronted by stress, and only a lucky few get help. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of children with a diagnosed anxiety disorder and 60 percent of those diagnosed with depression do not receive treatment. Some mental health professionals have suggested that mindfulness exercises can help bridge the treatment gap, and there is some encouraging, if early, evidence showing that these techniques can be used to prevent relapses of depression or anxiety.

Cotton noted the anxiety of their patients was significantly reduced following treatment, and the more mindfulness they practiced, the less anxious they felt. Both findings reaffirm the potential that mindfulness therapy could bring to the table. If nothing else, it might allow people who would be reluctant to take medication more treatments to choose from. “Increasingly, patients and families are asking for additional therapeutic options, in addition to traditional medication-based treatments, that have proven effectiveness for improved symptom reduction. Mindfulness-based therapies for mood disorders is one such example with promising evidence,” said Cotton, adding the university is both studying and implenting these therapies.

After the 12-week experiment, Cotton and his colleagues found mindfulness therapy increased neural activity in a part of the brain that plays in a role in processing cognitive and emotion information known as the cingulate. The therapy was also able to increase brain activity in the insula, a part of the brain that helps monitor how the body feels psychologically.

“This raises the possibility that treatment-related increases in brain activity during emotional processing may improve emotional processing in anxious youth who are at risk for developing bipolar disorder,” said fellow co-author Dr. Jeffrey Strawn, a professor in UC’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, as well as director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program, in a statement. “The path from understanding the effects of psychotherapy on brain activity to the identification of treatment response is a challenging one, and will require additional studies of emotional processing circuits.”

Source: Strawn JR, Cotton S, Luberto CM, et al. Neural Function Before and After Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in Anxious Adolescents at Risk for Developing Bipolar Disorder. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. 2016.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/anxiety-disorders-mindfulness-exercises-brain-activity-392658