5 Yoga Poses to Calm Anxiety in Children
By Guest Blogger Anita Fernandes
Most of us associate childhood with feelings of carefree abandon. That’s what childhood should be like for every kid, but we don’t live in an ideal world. An increasing number of children are affected by stress and anxiety disorders, with an estimated 7.1% of children suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. As parents, it’s hard to watch our kids struggle with anxiety and stress, so it’s instinctive for us to try and shield them. Unfortunately, protecting your child from anxiety triggers and solving all of your child’s problems will only offer temporary relief. In the long run, these methods can actually exacerbate childhood anxiety.
To really deal with the problem, you need to empower your child with effective coping strategies. Yoga is perhaps the best of these as studies show that it can boost feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, improving confidence and reducing vulnerability to anxiety disorders.
5 Yoga Poses for Childhood Anxiety Relief
Child’s Pose: It's one of the simplest of all yoga poses, and it’s also extremely effective at promoting relaxation (both physically and mentally). Child’s Pose is commonly included in yoga sessions for anxiety management and also as a resting pose during routine yoga workouts. As a gentle forward bend and inversion, the pose helps ease tension that tends to build in the neck, shoulders, and back. The mild inversion causes some compression of the body, which triggers slow deep breathing that is proven to lower stress and anxiety levels. Child’s Pose is especially helpful if your child’s nervous energy manifests in restlessness and muscular tension.
Tree Pose: When you’re working with kids, it’s important to remember that they can lose interest quickly if you don’t liven things up. While resting poses like Child’s Pose and Corpse Pose are among the most effective ways to lower anxiety levels, you should include more fun poses like the Tree Pose. This pose is actually great at controlling anxiety, particularly when a child has trouble with focus. As a basic standing and balancing pose, it strengthens concentration and awareness of the moment. In doing so, it also shifts your focus away from thoughts that cause anxiety. To pique your child’s interest, ask her to imagine herself as a strong tree with roots that go deep into the ground. This can make the pose feel even more grounding, reducing any feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.
Cat - Cow Poses: Kids love imitating animals, whether roaring like a lion or howling like a wolf. This makes the cat and cow poses ideal for any kid’s yoga routine, as you can get them interested by encouraging them to imitate the animals as they strike each pose – meowing while arching the back and mooing when dropping it. The movement between the two poses is fluid and easy to sync with breathing, which makes it really effective at lowering anxiety levels rapidly. While slow and fluid movements are ideal, allow your child to practice poses in their own way -- so long as they do so safely.
Warrior Poses: These standing poses are great for anxiety relief in children, as they involve quick and fluid movements that provide an invigorating effect. The Warrior Poses emphasize balance and posture, improving core strength and coordination. Like other balancing poses that require concentration, this set of poses helps strengthen focus and shifts attention away from thoughts that trigger anxiety. The intrinsic strength of the postures also helps boost confidence and self-esteem in children.
Easy Pose: This pose is a great way to wind down any yoga session, and it’s also particularly beneficial to anyone with stress or anxiety disorders. Adults can struggle to maintain the cross leg posture comfortably, but most children can find it easily enough. The pose is effective at relieving anxiety because it forces you to slow down and focus on breathing. It's a meditative pose that offers similar benefits to meditation, which research shows is an effective strategy to manage anxiety disorders and depression.
In addition to adopting a yoga routine and other strategies to lower anxiety levels, balanced nutrition is vital for a child’s psychological well-being. Conditions like iron deficiency anemia have been linked to anxiety disorders, and can be easily prevented by encouraging your child to eat more iron rich foods. Aside from iron, deficiencies in nutrients like omega-3, vitamin D, and magnesium are also associated with a higher risk of anxiety disorders and depression.
Author’s Bio: Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, weight loss and holistic health and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome eating disorders and obesity. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.