As adults, the benefits of yoga and mindfulness are not lost on us. It's the reason why we make time for practice, or even stick to a consistent one, in our busy schedules. In the peaceful space of a yoga studio, we learn to let go of the clutter in our mind, to breathe, to slow down.
It's not any different for the little ones. Children, too, benefit immensely from yoga and mindfulness.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment - be it noticing what you see, how you feel, or perhaps even what your mind is doing - without having to judge or contemplate if is good or bad. This creates a space between the emotions we experience and, in turn, how we react. It allows us to develop a stronger sense of self-awareness as we acknowledge what's going on, both internally and externally.
With self-awareness leads to self-regulation. Early exposure and guidance to mindfulness helps children to understand and benefit from this, as opposed to stumbling upon it themselves. As children learn to be more aware of how they think and feel in the present moment, they are in more control of how they behave.
Research has also shown that children who are exposed to mindfulness activities are more likely to be found with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They tend to have more empathy, are more resilient and happier in general. Children who practice yoga and mindfulness build better relationships with friends and family as they are more respectful of themselves, and others.
In addition, growing evidence shows that mindfulness is making a notable difference in helping children with their focus and concentration. Consistent practice helps in memory capacity, while reducing mind wandering. Neuroimaging studies go further to reflect that there is indeed an increase in brain matter density in regions linked to learning and memory.
Just like how many of us look to the mat for calmness and clarity, let's not forget to extend an invitation to the little ones, too.