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Benefits of yoga for children

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14 April 2015
Benefits of Yoga for Children
INTRODUCTION
In today’s world everyone and everything seems so fast paced and stressed, even the kids are not untouched by the present situation. Stressed out, under nourished, and leading a sedentary life are among the various characteristics that describes a “typical child” 1. Hence, a method of medication that hits both the physical and the psychosocial sphere of children are required. According to the study of Parshad2, our mind and body are associated intimately. Relaxation of the mind can be felt in the muscles of the body, which would also appear relaxed. A state of physical and mental tension is produced by stress (Stueck and Gloeckner 377).
Developed thousands of years ago yoga is identified as a form of mind–body medication. Focusing on different features of body mechanics, fitness, and spirituality several forms of yoga exist. According to Parshad’s study, physical postures and breathing exercises of yoga leads to the improvement of muscle strength, flexibility, blood circulation and uptake of oxygen as well as functioning of hormone.
Yoga is seen as a promising method of physical and mental development among the children. A lot of pediatric healing settings are incorporating yoga for the well being and overall growth and development of a child, various schools, colleges and institution have already integrated it. However, a careful examination of the research is essential, studying the benefits and effects of yoga over children, irrespective of its popularity.

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OBJECTIVE
To conduct a systematic research on the benefits of yoga for children and the effect it produces on their quality of life. For this purpose several databases were examined, including randomized controlled trials that examined yoga as an exercise intervention for children.
METHODOLOGY
Neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary, and musculoskeletal are the heading under which the articles have been classified for the purpose of this research. It is considered that all three of these practice patterns are covered by the practice of yoga covers.
Different search terms associated with yoga and pediatrics (children, developmental disabilities), exercise, physical activity, and cardiorespiratory fitness were searched. As required for each database, modification was done in this search process. Suitable publications that were in non- English language were not found. Among the studies that were considered for research, four of them were published in the 1980s, 10 studies were from the 1990s, and 10 were published from 2000 till date. Only studies that were pilot in nature, cohort, case– control, or a randomized clinical trial (RCT) were considered for research.
NEUROMUSCULAR BENEFITS OF YOGA
During the yoga interventions a lot of variability was observed. Improvements of motor planning, performance, and mental and social perception have been observed in children who have been practicing yoga. A positive impact on motor performance in children has been noted due to yoga practice and most of these studies were conducted on developing children. The benefits of yoga on reaction time, planning, execution time, and motor speed in children have been studied by researching over four studies. For quantifying the level of motor function the reaction time has been used, which also reflects the functioning of the central nervous system in the kids. ‘Mukh bhastrika yoga’ (bellows type breathing) producing decreased visual reaction time and auditory reaction time among 22 healthy schoolboys was observed and stated by the pilot data by Bhavanani et al. Hence, potential improvement in the sensory-motor performance and enhanced processing ability of the central nervous system are the results of yoga practice in children. For assessing motor speed in children and adults against a control group of 38 adults, Dash et al studied the benefits of yoga practice on a task that required finger tapping. Findings included significant increases in tapping speed values after 10 days of yoga training in the children’s group and 30 days of yoga training in the adult group.
Some studies also states that working efficiency in children are increased due to yoga, and they are able to concentrate and focus better. In a very effective way yoga develops relaxation and breathing, that helps children to put their energy into goal-driven tasks. In case of learning and classroom behavior, these findings have implications.
Also yoga seems very promising in children suffering mental retardation. In comparison to a control group, important positive changes in the IQ level and social features were shown by the researchers among mentally retarded kids who had been practicing yoga for one year. More global impacts of behavioral and cognitive improvements are possible with changes at the neuromuscular level. Children with neurological impairments can be benefitted by yoga in a very significant manner; however for determining definitive benefits of yoga further RCT are required (Nayar et al. 112).
CARDIOPULMONARY BENEFITS OF YOGA
Several studies were conducted under these heading, and studies revealed that for improving cardiorespiratory parameters yoga can be used in both typical children, or physically and emotionally impaired children. It is very significant to observe that psychosocial factors often highly influence the physical impairments. Hence, yoga can be considered as an addition for cardiopulmonary treatment among children.
Controlled- breathing techniques are of primary importance in the yoga practice. This concept leads to studies on children suffering from cardiopulmonary impairments. The benefits of pranayama (voluntary regulation of breathing) on cardiac function in normal young children was studied by Udupa et al. Into two groups, .i.e. a pranayama group and a control group, twenty- four school children were divided. For 3 months and everyday for 20 minutes, breathing techniques were practiced by the pranayama group. On the other hand, normal breathing was maintained by a control group. It was found that by reducing the sympathetic output and hence increasing parasympathetic output the practice of pranayama modulated the performance of ventricles very effectively. The baseline proof about the yoga effectiveness on cardiorespiratory parameters in normal children was provided by this study, and also gave a way for further research into children or adults suffering from such problems.
MUSCULOSKELETAL BENEFITS OF YOGA
According to the studies conducted under these heading, for improving musculoskeletal parameters in children developing typically and kids who cannot meet national norms for fitness and body composition, yoga can be best applied.
Lack of strength and flexibility often causes orthopedic injuries in children. According to Mandanmohan et al study conducted on 20 school children aged 12 to15 years, significant development in strength of handgrip and endurance along with strength in inspiratory and expiratory muscle was produced by six months of yoga training.
Another growing problem among children is obesity, which might also be restricted by yoga practice. “Be a Fit Kid” which was a pilot study by Slawta et al, comprised of a 12-week program of yoga. This program was designed for improving physical fitness and nutritional habits among children. Also a physical activity element such as running, jumping, and strengthening along with a nutrition program were included in this program. Those who participated 75% of the time showed significant improvements in body composition and fitness in after the intervention (Parshad 194).
LIMITATIONS
Available proof associated with the benefits of yoga as an intervention for QOL and physical results in children have been summarized in this paper. The studies mentioned above lack sufficient data for examining the improvements in QOL over an important phase of childhood and adolescence.
All the studies included in this research had variable quality, and none can be regarded as high quality evidence. Thus, this fact tempers the conclusions.
To prevent further disability in these three practice patterns, this research lacks data support for the application of yoga.
CONCLUSION
Yoga can be appropriately termed as one mind–body therapy, which helps in the treatment and improvement of several medical conditions among children. There are various benefits of yoga practice for children; this paper shows evidences regarding the physiological and psychological benefits of yoga for the children. The children can be benefitted from yoga largely if it is integrated using the rehabilitation process, however for providing definitive evidences larger clinical trials along with particular measures for quality of life are essential.
Children suffering from mental challenges are highly benefited by practicing yoga. Their mental ability, and motor coordination as well as social skills are improved by it. After practicing yoga restoration of some extent of functional ability can also be experienced by children suffering from physical disabilities.

Work Cited
Stueck M, Gloeckner N. Yoga for children in the mirror of science: working spectrum and practice fields of the training of relaxation with elements of yoga for children. Early Child Dev Care. 2005. Print.
Parshad O. Role of yoga in stress management. West Indian Med J. 2004. Print.
Nayar U, Hagen I, Nayar P, Jacobsen DY. Mental health for the media generation: balancing coping and riskiness. In: Nayar U, editor. editor. Child and Adolescent Mental Health. New Delhi: Sage Publications. 2012. Print.

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