Charlie and the Chakra Factory Meets the Wizard of Ohm: Yoga for All Ages
It used to be that yoga, as well as other mind-body practices, were believed to be esoteric "flower power" exercises practiced in relative obscurity by people on the fringe of society and American culture. Cut to the 21st century where hospitals, community centers and wellness facilities around the country are teaching both yoga and meditation. In fact, yoga studios and centers like ours now dot the landscape of most cities.
The evidence base for the ancient practice of yoga is growing, and recent studies have reported it to reduce stress, improve sleep and lower blood pressure. Additionally, yoga is known to improve physical health by increasing strength and flexibility and to increase balance and coordination, as well as cardiovascular functioning.
Not surprisingly, yoga is now being used with children of all ages to some startling positive effects. A recent CNN article reported that teachers and parents are finding that yoga can help kids relax, become less agitated, and more focused. While there is firm documentation regarding the numbers of schools where yoga is being taught, there are a growing number of school districts across the U.S. that are even integrating yoga into the classroom. Check out this video describing the impact of yoga in the Minneapolis school district where 400 educators are using a program called Yoga Calm.
At the Center for Spirituality & Healing (CSH) at the University of Minnesota, we are getting more and more requests to offer mind-body skill training for children and adolescents and are considering adapting our successful Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program for this purpose. We've met with representatives from the Goldie Hawn Foundation, who have been doing inspiring work with their MindUPTM program, a comprehensive mindfulness curriculum for children in grades K-7.
Do you envision a day where we will teach kids how to reduce stress just as we teach math and language skills? Share your opinion and tell us what you think.
For more information about yoga, visit the CSH's Yoga Online Learning Module. To open the module, click on the yoga link midway down the page.