Updated: October 7, 2022
By Tvisha Patel, Pretzel Kids Contributing Writer
Do your kids go to to an after-school program?
Does the after-school enrichment program near you offer yoga classes? If not, guess what? It should!
After-school yoga programs can not only help reduce stress, but they can help kids get fit and improve self-esteem – all of which help schools meet social emotional learning (SEL) standards.
Benefits of Adding Yoga for Afterschool Programs
Have your kids ever complained about being stressed from homework? Have you seen them worried about academics or friendships?
Guess what? Yoga can help kids switch their attention from the negative to the positive. And, imagine if you had a way to stop kids from constantly being on their phone afterschool! After-school yoga to the rescue!
When kids are exhausted from school all day, they can be frustrated and tired. It’s hard for them to find peace on these days. You have probably experienced this, right?
While yoga in school can certainly enhance a child’s well-being and mood, imagine if they could take similar classes immediately after the school day is over. That’s where an after-school yoga program steps in and makes a difference in your child’s life!
Physical Benefits of Yoga for Kids
Let’s back up a bit and discuss the benefits of yoga for kids. Yoga is not just about a few slow stretches – there is a lot more to it. It’s a mix of poses that be both relaxing and energizing. Each asana uses different muscle groups, helping kids stretch and strengthen their whole body. Let’s look at a few poses and their benefits.
Downward Dog Pose
This pose helps kids stretch out their upper body, arms, and shoulders – alongside their abdomen and core. This is very helpful after a long day of classes. Plus, downward dog also helps increase blood circulation.
Low Lunge Pose
A low lunge pose can help kids relieve tight muscles in their hips and legs. This is a great pose, especially if students are sitting in class all day. This posture also stretches the front of the legs and intercostal muscles, as well the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, shoulders and arms. Over a period of time, kids can develop better balance and strength.
The cobra pose helps strengthen the spine, and stretch the chest, shoulders and abdomen. It’s a popular asana that can help relieve stress and fatigue from the body. This pose also engages other muscles such as the hamstrings and triceps. Did you know cobra pose can also help improve posture even for toddlers?
Yoga Increases Mindfulness
Mindfulness for kids improves attention span, regulates emotions, and helps children become more calm when they’re stressed out. Imagine how effective this is in an after-school yoga program for students?
Kids are constantly exposed to social media, electronics, and stressful situations at school. It would be extremely efficient and beneficial if they could attend yoga sessions after school. In after-school yoga programs, mindfulness can be implemented in several ways.
The most common but effective way is when instructors help kids pay attention to their breathing. For starters, the teacher can put on some relaxing music, create a calm environment and ask the kids to place their hands over their belly to focus on deep breathing.
Mindfulness can also help students navigate difficult times.
Not sure where to turn to find an after-school program or get one started in your school?
How After-School Yoga Can Benefit Learning
Kids often struggle at school with the amount of schoolwork they get. When you add in the pressure of taking tests, fitting in with their peers, and other stressors, well, it’s a lot!
It’s important for children of all ages to have methods to help them realign their focus on their learning and hobbies. How can we help them focus on such things and avoid extra stress? The answer: After-school yoga!
With each pose and meditation, kids will learn how to focus. This skill can be applied throughout their lives. Furthermore, yoga helps kids lead a healthy lifestyle, which is conducive to a positive learning environment.
After-school yoga programs can even help kids become more determined and enhance their self-esteem. Plus, it’s a fun activity to do with other children, especially if they can go right after school with their friends. While learning yoga with peers, children are inspired to participate.
Yoga for After-School Programs Gives Kids a Sense of Accomplishment
Have you ever seen how happy kids feel when they feel accomplished? Yoga is non-competitive – meaning all kids can excel! This feeling of accomplishment boosts the mood and helps children feel good in their own bodies.
Can Enrichment Yoga Classes Ease Stress for Kids?
Kids often have a lot on their mind. They’re thinking about the next test, homework, hanging out with friends, making time for activities and a lot more. During yoga, the instructor helps them focus on the present moment instead, with different breathing exercises and class activities. This helps children and teens divert their mind from any stressful thoughts.
We already mentioned that yoga helps boost self-esteem. Along with this, children often feel more confident when they practice yoga as it helps them challenge their bodies and work towards goals. These characteristics are important for daily life and go a long way towards helping students become more patient and calm when faced with difficult situations.
Lastly, yoga can help create healthy lifestyle changes. An after-school program, in turn, can help them build a routine. For example, yoga helps improve sleep. If kids get into the habit of doing yoga during their enrichment classes, they may be less tired and irritable during the school day.
Are You Ready to Offer After-School Yoga at Your School?
Social emotional learning (SEL) is so important to a child’s overall development. Why not enroll your child in a yoga class after school or start a program at your school? Let’s do this!
Tvisha Patel is a blog writer at Pretzel Kids. She loves doing yoga in her downtime and is currently a business student at Schulich School of Business – York University, in Ontario, Canada. Tvisha also enjoys exploring nature, music and photography!