When seven-year-old Theertha from Bengaluru complained of headaches, her parents considered giving yoga a shot.
“We were sceptical about whether she could take yoga seriously, but to our surprise, she practised diligently, and it helped in reducing her headaches. It took around four to five months to sees the benefits,” says Aishwariya L, Theertha’s mother.
Avyukth Nair, a class V student, has been practising yoga for many years. “We began with the sole intention of getting him physically active, but over time, we noticed improvements in his flexibility and stamina, as well as his becoming more mindful. He is now calmer and less impulsive,” says Divya Nair, Avyukth’s mother.
Benefits of yoga for students
As per a survey by the Manodarpan Cell of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT),yoga and meditation help students shift the way they think and adopt strategies to cope with stress. The survey was conducted to understand the perception of school students on aspects related to their mental health.
According to Dr Molishri Soni, an ex-yoga instructor at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Bengaluru, there are many benefits of yoga and meditation for school-going children. Yoga helps one become mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually stable and stronger. She says the following benefits can be expected for students:
- Helps in increasing height and maintaining the ideal body weight
- Helps in promoting good health
- Helps in the cure and prevention of diseases
- Increases mental and physical flexibility
- Helps in the detoxification of the body
- Helps in increasing focus, memory, and concentration
“Children are exposed to the screen in school and at home. It causes emotional instability in them. That is one area where children get immense help through practising yoga regularly,” says Madhuri Vasisht, who has been teaching yoga to children for the last three years at her yoga centre called Madhuri Yoga in Bengaluru.
According to her, the pandemic has left school-going children with low immunity. When they go to school, they can catch an infection from the other students. However, the continuous practise of pranayama, asanas, and yoga, can build their immune system and help them stay healthy and fit for a long time.
Symptoms of mental stress
Dr Molishri Soni suggests the following ways to figure out if a child needs special help and attention.
- Not able to concentrate in class
- Wandering attention, looking here and there and out of the window
- When asked, not able to answer properly even if they know what the question is
- Weak in both writing and reading
- Good at reading, but not able to comprehend or explain the meaning of what they have read
- Too hyperactive or very silent in class
- Not interactive with the other students and with the teachers
- Fear of going to the school assembly or conducting the assembly programme
- Fearful of participating in sports activities or other cultural activities
- Performing poorly at tests
Apart from this, any child who finds it difficult to address daily activities efficiently should pursue yoga as a daily activity.
Asanas for students
Vasisht suggests some asanas that could help children in different ways:
Back bending asanas help in building confidence. The Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) and Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) assist them in gaining confidence. Balancing asanas, Warrior Pose (Veerabhadra asana), pranayama (deep breathing asana) help in anxiety.
Balancing asanas are all about focus. Once focus improves, they will be able to perform well in school.
There are many balancing postures like the Tree Pose (Vrikshasana), Palm Tree Pose (Talasana), Eagle Pose (Garudasana), Lord of the Dance Pose (Nataraja asana), Yoga Seal Pose (Mudrasana), Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana), which help in focus. Children can improve their focus and concentration by practising various types of pranayama, particularly Bhramari pranayama, Om chanting, and Anulom Vilom.
When children go to high school, they deal with a great deal of study pressure. Yoga can provide a mechanism to deal with emotions, during this time. “I have personally experienced that when children are able to do a difficult asana, they automatically become confident in other spheres of life as well. Yoga helps in improving confidence, says Vasisht.
The involvement of yoga, asanas, and pranayama appears effective in helping children overcome stress and anxiety. Consistent practise of yoga, helps children gain a healthy physical, mental, and emotional life.