Roots and Wings
While often thought of for adults, yoga can be very beneficial for children. According to Bersma & Visscher (2003), “Children need a protective loving and secure environment to grow into healthy adulthood. Only when they have put down roots and become grounded in the earth can they develop wings that will carry them freely through life.” The authors of Yoga Games for Children describe yoga as a means to helping children feel grounded.
Furthermore, yoga has proven to be a useful self-regulation tool. Self-regulation is often the primary goal when one is working with children to improve behaviors and/or attention. However, for many children, self-regulation is not easily accomplished. Often times, trauma or other developmental issues have a tremendous impact on the brain and can contribute to abnormal activity in the cerebellar vermis. The function of this area of the brain is for production and release of neurotransmitters. Impairment of this area thus contributes to problems regulating physical activity, attention, and emotions.
Yoga can provide the right balance for this area of the brain and achieve the goal of self-regulation. For instance, physical activity can utilize too many large muscle groups and contribute to difficulty in managing and regulating behaviors. Other strategies may appropriately accomplish the task of activating the cerebellum but may not be ‘active’ enough for the individual to become calmer. For these individuals, the essential components of self-regulation include structured, rhythmic, and contained movement.
Yoga is also acclaimed for fostering emotional growth. This is accomplished through the mind-body connection and addressing the child as a whole. When children are able to relax their minds, they can also begin to balance emotion and vice versa; children may also begin to strengthen their concentration and become flexible.
For adults, yoga is often utilized for its physical fitness benefits. Children can experience the same benefit as well as stumble on ways to improve motor skills. Children’s flexibility, strength, balance, and posture can all benefit through yoga. The emphasis on breathing during yoga can expand the child’s lung capacity, thus increasing his/her endurance. Energy levels can also become more balanced with the body being more relaxed and the brain being in better focus.
The benefits of yoga seem endless. In Bersma & Visscher’s book, a variety of easy-to-use poses, activities, and games can be found to teach and use with children of all ages. Many of their approaches are also indicated to aid in development and awareness of senses, building social skills, and fostering creativity. No matter the objective, yoga can be a fun and useful tool for children. Once children learn ways to ground themselves and practice this to develop their ‘roots’, they will soon be prepared to spread their wings and take flight.
Bersma, D. & Visscher, M. (2003). Yoga Games For Children: Fun and Fitness with Postures, Movements and Breath. Almeda: Hunter HouseTags: grounding children so they can fly, yoga and grounding children
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Jody Johnson, LICSW, LIMHP, began working at Wholeness Healing Center as a therapist in 2007. Jody graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with her Masters in Social Work. She received her bachelor degree in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
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