Yoga has touched my life.

     We all know that Yoga is highly beneficial for the mind, body, and soul. It reduces stress, anxiety, illness,and injuries. Most of us treat ourselves with this wonderful Yogi Method but do we treat our children? Children are constantly going through changes through mind, body, and soul and sometimes it takes its toll. Growing pains set in, hormones change on a daily basis, and the stress the world puts on them in their daily lives can sometimes be too much.

     My name is Shani and I would like to share a story with you. It’s about my younger sister with ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism. First let me give you a little background about myself. I am a 23 year old woman balancing college, a job, and my own illnesses. I suffer from Scoliosis, Interstitial Cystitis, and daily amounts of stress while I juggle my life. I do yoga on a regular basis to aid in my back therapy, alignment, posture, muscle tenderness, and my sanity. My mother is a single mother taking care of our grandparents and a child with autism. Now I would like to tell you a little bit about my sister, Savannah.

     Savannah is 12 years old and has a hard time controlling her body, facial expressions, and emotions at times. She is highly intelligent and excels beyond her peers in some subjects while falling dangerously low in others. English is her strength but she struggles with handwriting. Math is her weakness. When it comes to sitting down and learning Math or doing homework it is usually approached in a negative way. Her eyebrows scrunch up, her eyes start darting at other things to do anything but look at the numbers on her page, and her attitude skyrockets into unstable premises; agitation, over sensitivity, and sometimes aggression. Once she begins her math it’s an ongoing roller coaster to get through five problems that would be simple for you or me. She copies her problem onto the paper, this takes time as her handwriting skills are weak due to her sensory issues. She begins adding her numbers and puts down the wrong answer. “Savannah,” I say, “You’re really close but about two numbers off. Let’s count 289 plus 30 again together and double check the answer.” Her eyes get wide, and her brow wrinkles more. The first sound out of her mouth is, “Whaaaat??? I did it?!” “I know but lets just check your answer to make sure there are no mistakes,”I reply. The pencil flies across the room and the papers fall to the floor. She is in full tears screaming and crying and frantically flailing around. “I hate this! I hate this! I don’t want to do this anymore!” She screams. The rest of the evening she is emotionally distraught and no homework is completed. She cries for three hours.

     It’s not always this bad but sometime during the assignment this response happens more often than not. This isn’t her fault. Her patience is hard for her to grasp and she honestly does not understand why she is being tormented like this. I decide to try something different. The next day, preparing for her assignment, I suggest we do something fun before we begin. She is fully aware of the assignment she has to do. “Want to try yoga, Savannah?” I ask. “um, ok.” She replies, unsure. She knows she would rather do another option than her homework at the time. So whatever prolonges it is ok with her. I walk her through 20 minutes of breathing exercises and light stretches. We practice inhaling deeply and exhaling completely, even controlled breaths. She gets the blood moving into her joints and relaxes her mind. After the 20 minute session I ask her if she is ready to begin her homework task. She replies in a calm voice, “Ok, I think I can try it.” And we begin her assignment. We are slow and careful with what we write and how we count. We count together and sometimes make mistakes and check our answer. Two times she comes inches away from another temper tantrum but I remind her of the breathing exercises we did previously and she pauses and practices them. WIthin 45 minutes we have completed her math homework and checked our answers to make sure they are correct. She flops onto her back with a big sigh and says, “YES! Thank goodness it’s over!” I tell her what a good job she did and we have a nice snack downstairs to make up for the brain work. Then she is free to play outside for an hour before dark.

     Even though Savannah has sensory issues, attention issues, and the seemingly inability to stay calm; she was still able to remember what we practiced in yoga and applied it to the homework situation. She calmed her nerves, mind, body, and spirit before tackling the task at hand and was fully aware that she was about to indulge in her least favorite topic. When we were completed with our warm up of the body and got the blood properly flowing and carrying oxygen to the proper places, the back aligned and joints lubricated; she was ready to face her challenge. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked and we made it a routine. Now she looks forward to our practices, getting a bit longer each day, and has the confidence and patience to get through her most challenging tasks. Yoga has helped her face her challenges head on.

     Not only has she benefited from yoga for school but she also practices the patience she learns with her peers outside. When she starts to lose control of her facial expressions, her hands, and the other kids start picking on her; she reminds herself to breathe and clear her mind to properly deal with her challenge. Yoga has touched her life and mine and I hope that it will touch yours, your children’s, and your student’s.

If you need some ideas or just to know how to get started. Try out the ABC Yoga cards for kids and the Instructional Workbook. Also try the Yoga for Small Spaces if you have a packed classroom of kids with little to no space. 

Yoga, meditation program helps city youths cope with stress

 

By Kelly Brewington, The Baltimore Sun

Once the domain of New Agers and suburban moms, yoga has become firmly planted in Baltimore’s inner city, and now researchers believe the ancient practice may help elementary school students cope with the stress of growing up in impoverished, violent neighborhoods.

Researchers and lay people alike think yoga may help adults reduce stress. The popularity of the practice has surged, and it’s used as therapy for cancer patients and battered women, and as a treatment for back pain and depression.

But even as schools get in on the trend, the effect of the practice on children has not been subject to rigorous study, say researchers at the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Even less understood is whether yoga can help youths struggling with the stress of urban life.

“Living in an inner-city environment with high crime and high violence, there are just so many kids here who have chronic stress,” said Tamar Mendelson, an assistant professor in the department of mental health at Bloomberg and the study’s lead researcher. “We wanted to really study this and see if this can be helpful for kids exposed to chronic stress and if we can give them some tools for coping.”

They found a 12-week yoga program targeting 97 fourth- and fifth-graders in two Baltimore elementary schools made a difference in students’ overall behavior and their ability to concentrate. They found students who did yoga were less likely to ruminate, the kind of brooding thoughts associated with depression and anxiety that can be a reaction to stress. The findings, which focused on a pilot program that took place in 2008, were published recently in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. One program is still active, and researchers are now applying for federal funding to expand the effort into schools across the city.

Researchers identified four schools, offered four 45-minute yoga classes each week to students at two of them, and used the other two schools as the control group. They gave students questionnaires before and after the study period and followed up with interviews with students and teachers. Schools included in the study were Westside, Samuel F.B. Morse, Alexander Hamilton and North Bend elementaries.

While the study was small and the findings self-reported, researchers believe the findings hold promise.

Click here to read the complete article from The Baltimore Sun.

For Kids, Self-Control Factors Into Future Success: NPR

 
 
 
Social scientists say three things matter for success in life: IQ, family’s socioeconomic status and one thing that’s easy to influence: self-control. A child’s self-control in preschool helps predict possible health, substance abuse and financial problems later in life, researchers found.  What plays into helping kids master self-control? 
 
by Nancy Shute

Self-control keeps us from eating a whole bag of chips or from running up the credit card. A new study says that self-control makes the difference between getting a good job or going to jail — and we learn it in preschool.

“Children who had the greatest self-control in primary school and preschool ages were most likely to have fewer health problems when they reached their 30s,” says Terrie Moffitt, a professor of psychology at Duke University and King’s College London.

Moffitt and a team of researchers studied a group of 1,000 people born in New Zealand in 1972 and 1973, tracking them from birth to age 32. The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the best evidence yet on the payoff for learning self-discipline early on.

The researchers define self-control as having skills like conscientiousness, self-discipline and perseverance, as well as being able to consider the consequences of actions in making decisions.

The children who struggled with self-control as preschoolers were three times as likely to have problems as young adults. They were more prone to have a criminal record; more likely to be poor or have financial problems; and they were more likely to be single parents.

This study doesn’t prove that the lack of self-control in childhood caused these problems, but the large size of the study, and the fact that it followed one group of people over many years, makes a good case for an effect.

Teaching Control

Economists and public health officials want to know whether teaching self-control could improve a population’s physical and financial health and reduce crime. Three factors appear to be key to a person’s success in life: intelligence, family’s socioeconomic status and self-control. Moffitt’s study found that self-control predicted adult success, even after accounting for the participants’ differences in social status and IQ.

IQ and social status are hard to change. But Moffitt says there is evidence that self-control can be learned.

“Identical twins are not identical on self-control,” she says. “That tells us that it is something they have learned, not something they have inherited.”

Click here for to continue reading the complete story from NPR.

Orignal Source: NPR