As a co-founder and Executive Director of YoKid, adult yoga teacher, and kids yoga teacher I am consistently asked to answer the question,”Why yoga?” and more specifically, “Why do kids and teens need to do yoga?”
More and more, I have had the delight to interact with people who do seem to get it. But honestly, the vast majority of people simply don’t get it. Why is this ancient practice REALLY needed? What exactly is yoga? And, most importantly, why should I donate, volunteer, or support it so that under-served populations, minorities, economically disadvantaged, and at-risk youth get the chance to learn yoga?
If you want to understand why yoga for kids and teens matters here ya go:
Last week was unusual and I was personally reminded why this work is so important when I stepped away from the office and taught six yoga classes for kids and teens. These were first time classes for 95% of the participants. At the end of every single class, the kids and teens alike said “When are you coming back?” and “Can we please do it again?”
It was amazing. It was the heart of yoga, the reason why we founded YoKid as a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization seven years ago. In 45 minutes, those kids experienced love, laughter, power, community, and most importantly stress relief. They did it with their own bodies, their own minds, and of their own accord. All they needed was a little guidance. With a few more sessions, they will get the hang of how to replicate their experiences, these emotions, and this practice outside of class.
1. Stress Relief. In every single yoga class, no matter how young you are we RELAX. A 2011 study by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality concluded that low-income children are at greater risk for experiencing “chronic toxic stress,” which is linked to deficits in academic achievement and to occupational attainment later in life. (Evans, G. W., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Kato Klebanov, P. (2011). Stressing Out the Poor: Chronic Physiological Stress and the Income-Achievement Gap. Pathways , 16-21.)
2. Power. Kids who participate in the YoKid program learn to believe in themselves. They are constantly reminded by our teachers that they can and should trust themselves, that they are powerful, capable, beings.
3. Community. Something happens in a yoga class for kids and teens. In this time they realize how they interact with each other on a very basic level. Friendships begin to form and a community of support for your neighbor starts to take shape.
4. Love. We encourage our students to LOVE. Loving themselves as they are and for who they are AND loving the world around them. Love quite simply is caring. Did you know? Kids and teens who participate in yoga have been shown to have lower levels of anger. They are more relaxed and emotionally balanced.
5. Laughter. When was the last time you laughed? I mean really laughed? In our yoga classes for kids and teens we laugh and smile and enjoy this life. This beautiful gift of life where being a kid means you get to try something new, laugh, fall over, stand up, try again ALL while everyone around you is doing the same thing. Laughing, smiling giggling, trying their hardest through yoga.
Help us go back many times over to the same kids, introduce yoga to new kids, AND keep this great energy flowing. GIVE the gift of yoga to a kid or teen this holiday season. Your gift of just $15 – one yoga class for a kid or teen makes a huge difference in the life of a child. Click here to DONATE now.
*Thank you to Kristin Adair Photography for the Photos of YoKid in Action*