Challenges Faced by Today’s Children – Can Yoga Help?

It is not easy growing up in today’s society. Childhood obesity, ADD/ADHD, trauma, stress, lack of physical activity—these are issues that most adults in today’s society did not have to contend with when growing up.

A recent article in Newsweek found that American children are in a creativity crisis. What does that mean? Children that are given less opportunity or support to role play, express emotions through play, problem solve, create imaginary worlds , make up play friends, and think outside the box are losing vital opportunities to build their intelligence and their motivation.

At Color Me Yoga®, we believe that Yoga for Children offers a simple, cost effective tool to help with many of the issues faced by today’s children. Yoga, the ancient practice of uniting Sun and Moon, Fire and Air, Earth and Water, Masculine and Feminine, Mind and Body, Spirit and Heart, has at its root, the concept of loving compassion and right relationship. Nurturing children’s body-soul wisdom through all aspects of Yoga, including asana, pranayama, meditation, mudra, philosophy, and so on, establishes the foundation for healthy, compassionate, confident, peaceful and self-aware adults.

Here are some of the additional challenges American kids are facing and how yoga can help.

  • Competition – When children are taught that their value is based on external rewards, they can lose willingness to be curious unless they get something out of it. Yoga teaches them to discover the moment, and then find innovation and self determination.

  • Trauma – When children are traumatized, which can be as simple as getting hurt on the playground or as horrible as physical and emotional abuse, their little nervous systems, when already stressed, get locked into the body/mind, causing isolation, aggression, violence, frozenness, stomachaches, headaches and other more serious illnesses. Yoga is so soothing. Itcalms the nervous system, boosts immunity, harmonizes the self, helps children embody then move through difficult feelings, turns on the parasympathetic system, reduces ADD, and fosters cooperative environments.

  • Anxiety – Anxiety can be caused by stress, competition, trauma, lack of sleep, over scheduling, too much homework, relationship issues at school, tests, and family problems. There is an endless list. Yoga, especially the practices of creative visualization, meditation, slow breathing, and deep forward bends, can really help reduce anxiety and recondition the nervous system, allow children to form their own inner connections and self empowerment.

  • ADD/ADHD is the inability of children to stay focused, be comfortable in their surroundings, have ease in social situations, and have follow through. Yoga, because of its slow progressive methods to engage the entire being, teaches children how to regulate themselves, build an internal sense of rhythm and express their energy creatively.

  • Violence and Aggression – There are many roots that trigger violence and aggression. Yoga class may provide the one safe place for a child to find their inner language and experience healing. The practice of Loving Compassion is the foundation of any good children’s yoga program. Children’s social-emotional development depends on a balanced and loving harmonious learning environment, which yoga creates. Teaching Loving Compassion has tremendous health and societal benefits, DHEA (what keeps us young!) is raised astronomically in people who live by loving compassion. These people also have lower cortisol production thus allowing them to live more fully in the parasympathetic nervous system, our “here I am and  it’s all okay!” nervous response.

  • Inability to express emotions – When a child does not experience the necessary steps of social-emotional development, mental illness can develop, violence and aggression can increase, and frozen feelings keep children uninspired, bored, restless and experiencing poor health in bones, joints and organs. Yoga engages all the senses, creates a loving learning environment so children can relax, be more receptive, allow confidence, curiosity and comfort in relating to others. A relaxed receptive body produces a relaxed receptive brain, willing and most importantly, able to learn.

  • Childhood Obesity – Children who suffer from obesity have more adult health issues as children. They can lose their innate ability to make creative choices. They can develop language skill issues, lose their energy, hence their vitality. Yoga for children, which involves creative play, gets kids off their seats and on the yoga mat. Their brain develops more rapidly. Learning coordination in movement increases brain power, according to a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Movement and creative play stimulates brain derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates healthy bone growth.

Would it not ultimately cost a lot less for society to offer a child yoga, than to constantly drag them to doctors, psychiatrists, case workers, diet camps?

Would it not be more beneficial to teach a child to breathe life, rather than condition them with more medications than they may actually need?*

Would it not make more sense to teach parents and caregivers to slow down, do less, enjoy play with their children, rather than running around every day, from activity to activity, when in reality there is no connection or family time?

Would it not be beneficial to a child to enjoy nature, to practice their tree pose next to a mother tree, rather than keep tapping a virtual tree with their overused saddle joint (thumb)?

Would it not be wonderful to teach and model empathy, loving compassion, self love and love for the earth as a way of life? Would it not be a gift to our children if we lived our Yoga?

Sat Nam.

Marsha Therese Danzig is the founder of Color Me Yoga for Children, an International 200 Hour Yoga School and Children’s Yoga Program committed to bringing the gift of yoga to all children everywhere. You can read more about her and Color Me Yoga at

* The author is not advocating discontinuing medications or denying medications to those children who really need them.

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