Jyoti Jo has taught children for 15+ years, she explains how yoga and mindfulness are key for children these days.
“I truly believe that all children are special and that all children deserve to experience inner peace, joy, comfort and fulfilment of their potential and purpose.” Jyoti Jo Manuel
Yoga gives children and young people experiences that are fundamental to their development as healthy whole human beings. It gives us the opportunity to cultivate what is desperately missing in the world today – unconditional love. Primarily and initially of self and then of others.
Yoga is a way of “being” rather than necessarily something that we ‘do’. The practices that we do are designed to take us into that state of ‘being’.
We have an epidemic of mental health problems in children today including obesity, eating disorders, self harming, suicide, alcohol and drug misuse, depression and severe anxiety. There are also more and more children now being diagnosed and medicated for ADHD and autism.
The need for holistic practices like yoga have never been more important.
To create the best possible foundation for children to reach their fullest potential and become self sufficient, resilient individuals with high self esteem they need a holistic and well rounded practice of yoga.
Yoga has the ability to bring us into homeostasis. we function at optimum when we are calm, organised and we feel safe and comfortable within ourselves.
This is the state where the potential for not only learning is at optimum, but gives us that state of ‘being’.
Children today are suffering from a lack of connection to themselves. Yoga facilitates connection, the connection of mind body and spirit.
Yoga and mindfulness helps children unlock their inner powers. They help them to explore their bodies, put them in touch with their minds, emotions and hearts. This introduces them to the idea of an inner self.
Teaching children how to use the gift of their own breath to self regulate and reduce emotional reactivity will help provide an emotionally healthier child.
The physical practice of yoga provides exercise, body awareness and relaxation. Stretching muscles receptors releases serotonin (a ‘coping’ chemical) in the brain providing, not only a sense of well-being, but to help anchor information in memory. This then enhances learning and therefore confidence.
The attitudes of the Yamas and Niyamas provide a structural framework for behaviour and way of being. Perhaps the most important single cause of a persons success or failure educationally has to do with the question about what he believes about himself.
What the practices of the heart are telling us today is that our hearts are the most important place to inhabit. Science is now finding that the energetic quality of our heart is vastly more powerful than that of our brain.
Taking children back to the essence of who they are, where they can (re-)learn how to trust themselves and believe in themselves empowers them to be the best that they can be.
For children with special and additional needs, yoga is so beneficial.
Having offered yoga therapeutically to children with special and additional needs globally for 15+ years, I have witnessed first hand the amazing benefits that yoga brings.
We have seen children who are so uncomfortable in their physical and emotional bodies become peaceful. We have seen children who had the potential to walk, walking, speaking and often displaying potential that no-one believed was possible.
Yoga supports and enhances all creeds, cultures and abilities thus representing a unifying foundation and providing a common structural framework of ideas and behaviours which work for everyone.
Everyone can practice regardless of academic ability, body shape, weight, culture or special needs.
All participate on an equal footing helping the children to experience a sense of freedom and connection. Yoga works for all children because they enjoy it. It brings them back to the essence of who they really are.
I truly believe that all children are special and that all children deserve to experience inner peace, joy, comfort and fulfilment of their potential and purpose.
Jyoti Jo founded The Special Yoga Centre in 2004 to give a nurturing, inclusive and welcoming home for the work with the special children and to make yoga and mindfulness accessible to all.