Kids Yoga for Regulation

According to Katherine Lewis, author of the new book The Good News About Bad Behavior, we are in a crisis of self-regulation among kids today. This, she explains, is the reason why nearly half (50%) of today's children will develop a mood disorder, behavioral disorder or substance abuse problem by age 18.

“The rise of social media and web culture, which has us "always looking outside ourselves," along with the decline of community and unstructured play time. Today's children tend to roam the world as independent contractors, and are taught to focus more on individual achievement rather than their contributions to family, neighborhoods and friends.”  

We believe Yoga can bridge that gap. With the trend of individual achievement, kids can learn how to contribute their gifts to their local communities and in turn, create positive global impact.

Anxiety is the most common mental-health disorder in the United States, affecting nearly one-third of both adolescents and adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Growing up is stressful.  How do we help kids manage the demands of our time?  Yoga teaches these three practices:

  1. Move Your Body: Awareness 
  • What’s going on inside of me
  • What’s going out around me

Movement releases tension in the body. Meditation and mindfulness bring awareness and allows kids to reflect and manage their changing bodies and brains. Ultimately, these habits  of body and mind as well as those for healthier habits at home can inform their choices in life helping them to act with kindness – the ultimate social capital. 

  1. Reset Your Mindset: Attitude & Approach
  • Reframing stress to tension
  • Negative to positive

Research in brain and behavior science instead reveals that it is the compounding impact of our habits and self-narratives that really matter. But how do we set the foundation for those habits and stories? Where do they begin? What is it that sets our course and fuels us forward?

  1. Balancing Effort and Ease: Action
  • Finding flow for kids
  • Exploring purpose


Developmental psychologist and Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence Dr. William Damon addresses this need to cultivate motivation and aim in his book, The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life. Dr. Damon believes that a clear sense of purpose inspires young people and gives them direction. He makes the case that high standards alone are not enough to support success. In his words:   


“Purpose is a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond self. Purpose endows a person with joy in good times and resilience in hard times, and this holds true all throughout life.”


True purpose, he says, has to be of consequence beyond the individual. 


Yoga for Dancers and Performing Arts

More and more performers (Dancers, Actors, Singers, and Musicians, etc) are looking to Yoga to help them balance the demands on their bodies and minds, and to improve their performance in the arts.  

  1. Body. Problems include:
  • Dancers: Excessive external rotation can cause long term damage
  • Actors/Singers: limited projection and or endurance
  • Musicians: Sitting and chronic static positions create imbalance

Yoga can balance the body to allow for full expression in the arts. Internal rotation, breath work to maximize oxygen intake and distribution, and oppositional movement can free the body from the constraints of various art forms.

  1. Mind. Often dance, especially ballet, and music is about perfection. This goal, which is not truly achievable, can damage self-esteem and too often can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like eating disorders and substance abuse. (stat)

Shifting the mindset toward excellence is far healthier than the in-achievable and constant disappointment of failing to reach perfection. Yoga builds self-care into the system so young minds can manage the demands of the art form and maintain a growth mindset.

  1. Heart. So much of performing successfully is being fully connected to the feeling of expression. It’s what creates flow, and flow builds confidence. That balance of effort and ease that creates so much joy as a performer and equally for spectators.

Yoga helps tap into that goodness so it can translate into everything a young performer does. It helps them overcome anxiety so they shine through and through.

Yoga for Bullies - Be an Upstander

Yoga teaches kids who are not targets of bullying to help victims by being confident bystanders. See Can Yoga Prevent Bullying?  Part 1. Here are three things by-standers can do to become up-standers and help a victim: 

  1. Move your body toward the victim – just that physical presence sends a message the victim is not alone. 
  2. Say something to change the subject, like “Wow, I have so much homework in <class>, how about you?” or “Have you played <game> lately?” 
  3. Stand up to the bully saying, “Hey, that’s not okay. Let’s go.” and walk away with the victim.

We wonder if all kids did yoga, perhaps one day there would be no bullies?!  No one would have a reason to bully. 

Kids would feel empowered in their own lives.

Imagine that.

We explored how Yoga can help prevent victims from bullying in from Can Yoga Prevent Bullying?  Part 1 and Part 2. Now, can yoga help the bully too?    

Compassion. Bullies bully because it’s a learned behavior. They may feel powerless often because another is overpowering them, so they use others to feel powerful.  Kids with this awareness can empathize with a bully to divert them to another way of dealing with their pain.  Holding your body and having an attitude of confidence can protect you from being a target; the next step is to actually empathize with the bully if you still become a target.  

Yoga teaches kids to be comfortable with who they are; it’s a powerful mindset. When you feel good about you, you can help others.  Exercise boundaries with useful phrases to say in the moment, like:

  • “Ouch, you must be really hurting to say or do <that> to me.  
  • “I get that you are in pain, but hurting me is not going to help you feel better. What can I do to help you?” 
  • “Listen. I’m sorry for whatever is making you want to say or do <this>, but you picked the wrong person. It’s not too late for you to change your mind.”

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Learn all sorts of useful tips about Yoga for Kids!