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Yoga and mindfulness… the benefits for mental health.

Yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children.

Mindfulness exercises involve focusing on the here and now, instead of challenging our energy and worrying about mistakes of the past or uncertainties of the future. By letting go of worries and concentrating on the here and now, we let go of anger, frustration, irritation annoyance and worries, and attempt to reach “‘equanimity’ — stillness and balance of mind,” There are many benefits of practicing mindfulness, a happier life, an improved sleep, more compassion and empathy for others, clearer thinking and an overall sense of well being.

This is why we have included it as one of our six main outcomes in our Action Research project. The children are receptive to both yoga and mindfulness and as the weeks go on the children’s strength, commitment and concentration to practicing these are growing.

Our Yoga is connected to outside and nature and the children have been practicing seven main poses. The seed, the flower, the tree, the frog, the lion, the bridge and the butterfly. With the weather being uncertain we have been doing in inside but we really will aim to take this outside to the yard or better still Junior Forest School. The children respond with enthusiasm and they can relate to the poses as they are familiar with nature, plants and animals so it becomes relevant to them. Yoga and mindfulness help build a stronger connection with nature, this is something we wish to achieve.

We have also discovered a couple of great CD’s to listen too, one on relaxation and self esteem and another called ‘A walking talking Miracle’ an inspirational CD for children. There is an expectation that all children participate, no matter what age. Country Kids is an inclusive environment and goals are the same for each group. Rather then saying ‘How can I, rather how will I’. Modification and flexibility are important when planning each experience, no child is the same and each have different abilities, needs and personalities.

The children start off on the mat lying down, a bit fidgety, sometimes giggling and trying to touch each others hands peeking out between half closed eyelids. Harry who is only one years of age sits listening and observing, other times he wonders in between the children bending to observe their quiet faces, but still he is present, this is important for everyone.

As the children listen to words spoken calmly on the CD and the music draws them in their bodies relax and they are mostly quite. Some children even go to sleep or are close too it. After we finish I talk to them about how they feel, happy, relaxed or energized ready to listen at mat time, work together as a team, sit well during mealtime or ready for their afternoon nap.

Teaching them skills they can use to calm themselves when they are angry and soothe themselves when they are distressed will serve them not only through their early childhood, but also for later life.

When the challenges occur throughout each day with peers, tiredness, frustration and more, the skills mindfulness and yoga offers will support them physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.

Yoga and mindfulness offer essential life skills that allow kids to remain true to themselves and their true nature. Yoga and mindfulness teaches kids to listen to their heart and know what makes them feel happy, truly happy.

‘Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think’ Buddha


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