Children’s Yoga To Support Our Smallest Minds
Over the past year or so I have begun to notice a huge shift in awareness of our mental health.
There doesn’t seem to be the stigma attached to the subject as there used to be. Where social media once pointed us toward others’ wardrobes and beautiful homes, I now notice an ever-growing number of social media accounts promoting self care, kindness, body positivity and awareness of our own mental well-being. (Sadly I don’t notice such a shift in promotion of men’s mental health, but that’s a whole other blog!) This is of course all a wonderful thing, though I know we are only just at the start of a very long journey on using social media for positive purposes.
I have worked in schools and Nursery settings for the last ten years, and one thing I have noticed is the apparent increase in the prevalence of anxiety and mental health issues in our children and what’s worrying to me is that the issues surrounding anxiety seem to be affecting children of a younger age than ever before. Of course we are now more educated and aware of the signs than we ever have been before but, the statistics speak for themselves. Recent research suggests that as many as 1 in 6 young people will experience an anxiety condition at some point in their lives!
In November last year the government released a report on the mental health of young people in England which had truly shocking statements, too many to mention here, but most worrying to me is the finding that one in eighteen pre-school children were identified with at least one mental disorder and that among 2 to 4 year olds, boys were more likely than girls to have a disorder.
The NSPCC of course has spoken out regarding the findings and Alana Ryan, senior policy officer at the NSPCC, said:
“We are fundamentally failing our young people. Our own research shows even if children are referred for specialist mental health treatment there is a slim chance they will receive it, which is totally unacceptable.”
Our children nowadays have more pressure piled on them than ever before, when I think back to my childhood I cringe at the thought of adding social pressures, cyber bullying and even more exam stress (SATS cramming at 10?!) to the growing list of challenges young people today face.
As an educator it seems obvious to me that our children need to learn strategies to cope from those critical early years upwards, our EYFS Framework has ‘skills for life’ deeply ingrained and places much importance on ‘Personal Social and Emotional Development’, but none of those include managing children’s mental well-being specifically. I would suggest that in today’s world that should be top of the list!
In June 2016 I started doing some yoga with my own children, we began with the Cosmic Kids videos on YouTube and I quickly discovered how much they loved it. They’re 3.5 years apart in age yet each was able to join in and enjoy as much as the other. Gradually over time they began to use yoga before bed as a way of calming down & I was so inspired that I decided to ask my work place (an early years setting in a school) if I could undertake a qualification in children’s yoga, to which they agreed.
I have now been teaching children’s yoga in schools and in our community for 18 months and I have seen first-hand the benefits of empowering children with techniques on breathing, mindfulness confidence building and simply taking part in an fun & imaginative exercise activity which is inclusive. The feedback from parents is just overwhelming & I feel so passionately that this practice should be a regular part of all our children’s lives from pre-school and beyond. There are little or no non-competitive sports that all children can take part in without pressure and yoga provides the perfect balance for our children’s busy lives. It’s accessible, you don’t need equipment or a uniform like many activities and their are no expectations of achievement, only enjoyment.
I firmly believe that the children I’ve worked with have been.. and continue to …learn a skill and mindset that they will be able to take with them throughout their lives.
We all know how stretched our NHS is…
… wouldn’t it be incredible to be able to support our children before the need for intervention arose or at least support them during any waiting time.
If your school or pre-school doesn’t offer something for your child’s mind & body combined it might be time to suggest it! There’s an ever-growing army of us here ready armed with the skills and passion to empower and teach you and your children the real skills for life.
If you like you can even quote the EYFS back to them….
“Early PSED has a huge impact on later well-being, learning, achievement and economic circumstances. That is why the Childcare Act 2006 places a duty on local authorities (LAs), with their partners in settings ‘to improve the well-being of all young children in their area and to reduce the inequalities between them’.”
I could talk to you for hours about the reports from both NHS and the NSPCC, you can read the findings for yourself here.
If you’d like to follow our yoga adventures in Warwickshire for inspiration, please do see my page Mind Over Matter Yoga on Facebook or Instagram.
Nikki x 🧘🏽♀️