What Childhood Stress Does to the Heart and How Yoga Can Help

Whether it be pressure from teachers, trouble focusing, or a particularly challenging classroom environment, children in school today are experiencing high levels of stress. Some of this stress is constructive, and pushes them to learn, but other types of stress can have debilitating effects on the well-being of students. In a new study by JAMA Pediatrics, it’s suggested that childhood stress may even be linked to heart problems later in life.

The twenty-year study looked at psychosocial stressors such as social, emotional, or financial difficulties, and found that children living with less of those factors were 15% less likely to have calcium deposits clogging their arteries as adults.

The downside of this, as any parent knows, is that it’s not always possible to decrease the stress factors in your child’s life! The upside: techniques like yoga and meditation can equip children with tools to help mitigate the effects of the stressors they face.

Research indicates that yoga can decrease markers of stress in the body and increase resilience. Additionally, yoga has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, which boosts overall well-being, and lowers chances of developing cholesterol-clogged arteries which set the stage for many diseases, including heart disease.  

As JAMA’s study is observational, it doesn’t prove that childhood stress causes clogged arteries or heart attacks, but it certainly highlights the relationship between the two. According to Dr. Stephen Daniels, a researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital Colorado who reviewed the study, “the take-home message for parents is to understand that stress in childhood may have many adverse effects and that they should help their children avoid stress.” Giving kids access to yoga is a win-win because it both reduces stress and adds an element of independence by enabling them to manage their own stress.

Yoga programs for children are increasingly prevalent, and boast such results as the increased ability to focus, higher self-esteem, and a stronger grasp on the mind body connection. It is innate for children to move and play, and yoga teaches them how to do this in a way that’s not only fun, but also uniquely beneficial for their health and well-being. For parents or children seeking a way to learn kid-specific yoga at home, there are numerous resources online.

One such option comes from children’s yoga expert and Global Family Yoga founder Mira Binzen. Mira’s course “Yoga for Calm and Stable Kids” emphasizes building a strong foundation for both the mind and body so that kids can meet difficult situations from a more stable, grounded foundation. When they don’t have this stable foundation, kids can feel anxious, have difficulty focusing, or exhibit disruptive behavior such as acting out in their classroom, or at home. Mira teaches specific techniques to help children feel grounded, safe, and stable, so that they can actively participate in the experience of their well-being.

In short, giving kids access to yoga equips them with tools to manage their own stress, so that they might focus better, learn better, and fortify their health in the long run.

Interested in learning about unique yoga-for-kids tools? Check out Mira Binzen’s course on Yoga for Stable and Calm Kids.

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