You are here

Photo Essay

Yoga mats roll out around the world

Studies show that children who practice yoga can better manage their moods
  • Students from Southern Pines Elementary School in North Carolina participated in Kids’ Yoga Day in April. (Photo: Sara Beavers)
  • A yoga teacher shares calming yoga techniques to students at Litchfield Elementary School in Arizona on Kids’ Yoga Day. (Photo: Sabine Hopper)
  • Students from Southern Pines Elementary School tried different breathing techniques and yoga positions to relieve stress. (Photo: Sara Beavers)
  • Yoga instructor Teresa Ann Powers encourages schools to train teachers so they can lead yoga sessions every day.

Children across the nation learned downward dog, the tree and the frog, among many other yoga positions and movements this past spring.

The first Kids’ Yoga Day rolled out at 11 a.m., on April 8 with more than 25,000 children in 46 states and 21 countries.

Teresa Ann Powers, a yoga instructor and author of ABC Yoga for Kids, spearheaded the program, wanting to expose students to the benefits of her craft. Her mission was simple: to inspire teachers, administrators, parents, yoga teachers and others to volunteer to teach kids at least five minutes of yoga.

Students need just five minutes of bending and breathing to shed stress and re-focus on classroom instruction, she says. She spread the word on social media, and adult volunteers responded with requests to bring Kids’ Yoga Day to their local communities.

In North Carolina, for example, Southern Pines Elementary in Moore County Schools led seven sessions of yoga on April 8. Teacher Kelly Fagan had already been practicing yoga with her third- through fifth-grade special ed students for up to 20 minutes daily. She also uses breathing techniques throughout the day.

“I have noticed a positive change in their ability to calm down, handle change and transitions, and follow directions,” Fagan says.

About 1.9 million children practiced yoga or the similar disciplines of tai chi and qi gong in 2012, according to a National Health Interview Survey data.

Studies have shown that children who practice yoga can increase mind-body awareness and better manage their moods. Students who utilized yoga were also able to reduce their stress, which then enabled them to perform better academically, according to a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Yoga.

Powers encourages schools to train teachers so they can lead yoga sessions every day. “Many times kids can’t afford to go to a yoga class or don’t have the time after school,” she says. “Students need mindfulness as part of the curriculum.” —Ariana Fine