Our children live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school and peer pressures, video games and TV shows. We usually don’t think of these influences as stressful for our kids, but often they are. Add to that parental money pressures and stress, it seems that these problems don’t just affect the adults in the household. Stress trickles down and can have serious effects on children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PDF), “intensive and prolonged stress…can disrupt early brain development…and can lead to health problems later in life including alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.”
One non profit is working hard to combat these effects by using yoga. YoKid is an Alexandria, VA based organization dedicated to making the tools of yoga and mindfulness available to all children and teens in the Greater DC area.
About YoKid — Yoga for ALL Kids & Teens
Founded by one of our yoga teachers at Radiance Michelle Kelsey Mitchell and her business partner Ellie Burke, YoKid is a non-profit that provides instruction in yoga for kids & teens. While youth in today’s complex urban environments face ever-increasing challenges, there are greater levels of stress and obesity among kids & teens living in poverty. YoKid was created to help kids & teens confront these challenges by increasing their self-awareness, concentration levels and physical activity through yoga.
A recent study of the YoKid yoga program revealed improvements in students’ mood and physical fitness levels based on participation in a YoKid yoga class. Students who participated in the YoKid program were less angry, more relaxed, more flexible (physically), and showed improved concentration after completing at least 3 weeks of a YoKid class.
YoKid’s goal is that, by providing children, particularly those living in poverty, with the benefits of practicing yoga from a young age, we will equip them with techniques that can help them better cope with stress, decrease their likelihood of obesity, and improve their general understanding of how to care for themselves both mentally and physically throughout childhood and into adulthood.
YoKid provides on-site affordable classes for any interested school or organization. Class fees are based on a sliding scale, to ensure that ALL kids & teens can participate in the YoKid yoga program.
- Kids yoga improves self-esteem and self-awareness
- People with high self-esteem are more likely to create healthy, secure and honest relationships, and are less likely to develop eating disorders, depression or other mental health conditions
- The average kid watches five hours and three minutes of television daily
- Nationally, DC has the 9th highest amount of overweight kids at 35.4%, Maryland at 28.8%, and Virginia with 31.0%
- Yoga has been proven to reduce stress, improve concentration & relaxation, and promote healthy lifestyles
- Youth development programs, such as YoKid, offer kids the opportunity to experience fun, challenge, and enjoyment, while increasing their self-esteem and decreasing their stress
- Kids involved in regular physical activity are less likely to smoke than those who are not
- The increasing competitiveness in youth sports settings has linked sports to numerous negative social outco
mes including acts of violence and aggression. Yoga, on the other hand, is a noncompetitive activity.
- Yoga improves skill development, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility
Another Benefit of Kids Yoga – Stay In School!
Forbes recently published an article “How Yoga Could Help Keep Kids in School“. Author Alice G. Walton posits that yoga and mindfulness training could save the United States trillions of dollars and countless lives. How? Well, in our experience and according to the article, “scientific evidence is mounting daily for what many have long sensed: that practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help us address certain intractable individual and societal problems.” Mindfulness practices, like yoga and meditation help us real with the stress in our lives and “help us self-regulate.” Kids who practice yoga in schools are better able to cope with the world around them in positive ways.
In terms of economic cost alone, Cecelia Rouse at Princeton estimates that one high school dropout “costs” about $260,000 in lost earnings over his or her lifetime. Given the fact that at least a million kids drop out of school every year, the annual cost of school failure alone is estimated at $260 billion. As Bose points out, “Over ten years, the cost is upwards of 3 trillion dollars. And this is just for dropping out alone.”
Mindfulness practices teach coping mechanisms that can help sustain students and minimize their stress. Like Rob Schware, PhD, says, “The math is pretty simple and clear. We’re going to get our money back many, many times over. There’s a huge potential retun on investments, if we’re going to implement these things systematically.” YoKid’s mission is to bring yoga to all kids, but specifically at-risk populations and we see that yoga helps kids to cope with the stress in their lives.
Erin, one of the elementary students who took a yoga class with YoKid said:
“It helps the stress go away and I felt very relaxed when I am finished with yoga.”
To find out more about YoKid or to make a donation to this fantastic program visit their website www.yokid.org