Yoga for Mental Health: The Mental Health Crisis in Schools
By Tvisha Patel, Pretzel Kids Contributing Writer
The past few years have been filled with uncertainty and stressful times. Recently, schools and educators are looking at the effect the pandemic has had on kids, including social isolation.
Many children are now suffering from anxiety and emotional changes regardless of whether they are going to school in person or homeschooling.
Although stressful times are inevitable, the way we help youth respond to challenging times is imperative. That’s because we’re often living in fight or flight, which exacerbates anxiety. So, it’s important to find resources and methods to help kids deal with anxiety.
To help kids combat mental health issues, we recommend incorporating yoga and mindfulness into a daily or weekly routine. And luckily, many schools have already implemented after-school yoga programs which can greatly benefit students. Read on to learn about how yoga for mental health can help children and the overall mental health crisis kids are facing today!
The Impact of Covid-19 on Kids’ Mental Health
There is no denying that kids are facing a mental health crisis today. This is due to the uncertainty and anxiety of the pandemic, social isolation, loss of routine, emotional challenges, and other uncertainties over the past few years.
Going to school used to be a daily routine. Kids would wake up, go to after-school enrichment activities, and hang out with friends. Yet, during the pandemic, many children shifted to online learning and sat in front of a laptop to attend classes.
The drastic changes certainly had an impact on children. In a recent poll conducted by UNICEF, 27% of adolescents felt anxious and 46% reported having a lack of motivation to do their normal activities.
Social Emotional Learning and Yoga in School and at Home Can Help Kids Destress
While yoga is certainly not the only answer, yoga, breathing exercises, social emotional learning skills (SEL), and mindfulness techniques implemented in schools and at home are great tools to help children destress and improve their quality of life.
How Schools Can Incorporate Yoga Programs
A great way to incorporate yoga is to add after-school enrichment programs in schools! After a long day of school and sitting at desks, a yoga program is exactly what kids need to get physically active and stress less!
Furthermore, after-school yoga classes allow students to engage in mindful activities rather than binging on social media, which can further increase anxiety. A yoga routine, in turn, can help give children a sense of accomplishment, create healthy lifestyle changes, and contribute to a positive attitude.
Bring Kids Yoga into Your School or Organization
Want to bring yoga into your school or organization? That’s great! You can start clicking here to start offering after school classes or bring a teacher into your school! You’ll quickly see the benefits yoga offers to kids of all ages!
How Yoga for Mental Health Can Benefit Kids
Imagine this: After a long day of school, kids can stretch, relieve tension from their bodies, practice breathing exercises, do specific yoga poses to alleviate anxiety and much more!
Among other benefits, yoga has the ability to help you stay grounded and slow down racing minds. Each Pretzel Kids class, for example, offers up a different theme which includes grounding practices, meditation, mindfulness, different poses and much more!
By incorporating mindfulness, Pretzel Kids classes help students manage difficult emotions. Mindfulness activities can range from walks in nature, learning breath work with a buddy, imagining positive scenarios that can help ground you, and more. Mindfulness is beneficial as it can also help kids think positively, which is greatly needed in stressful situations.
In addition, yoga can help kids become more compassionate with others and themselves. When learning how to do poses, children often realize how far they’ve come, which can lead to feelings of accomplishment.
Do Yoga with Kids at Home, too!
Finally, you can also do yoga with kids at home. Setting aside time to do yoga with your family is a great way to bond. To start, you can do breath work, followed by poses like downward dog, cobra, tree pose, and other fun asanas for the whole family!
Why Practice Mindfulness With Kids
Mindfulness can help support a healthy lifestyle and a mind. This can greatly improve your mood and aid with anxiety. Mindfulness also involves meditation and the benefits are endless! A calm mind, positive attitude and improved energy are just some of the positive impacts of mindfulness.
What are the Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness?
Meditation and mindfulness can help kids respond to stress in a more healthy way. Breathing exercises – for one thing – help them feel in sync with their mind and body, resulting in reduced tension and stress.
Mindfulness can also help reduce fear and anxiety. And, setting time aside to practice mindfulness gives them a routine that they can count on!
How to Help Children Stay Present
There’s no one right way to start practicing mindfulness and yoga. But, you can begin by incorporating mindfulness activities that are fun for children. For some mindfulness suggestions for kids, check out this guide!
Along with breathwork and stretches, some other great ideas are to ask kids to talk about things they feel grateful for and things they are looking forward to. Such conversations help them feel heard!
Lastly, mindfulness can also be incorporated by implementing a daily gratitude practice.
Are You Ready to Help Kids Overcome Pandemic Anxiety?
It has been a rough few years for kids and their mental health. So make sure you talk to your kids and let them discuss their feelings. From there, use the tips in this guide – including yoga, breathing practices, and mindfulness techniques – to help you and the children you love develop positive coping mechanisms for stress.
You’ve got 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!