Meditation and Yoga for Kids with Anxiety

How meditation and yoga for kids can help with increasing anxiety

For the last 15 years I have been teaching meditation and yoga for kids (specializing in Autism, ADHD and Anxiety), and have seen the positive effects it can have. Through working with children of 4-16 years old and their parents, using different yoga, breathing, meditation and mindfulness techniques, we have been able to reduce their medication, ease their anxiety, and increase their quality of life.  The increase in stimulation, technology, and social media, in modern life, play a big role in these issues.

Adults also struggle with modern pressures, however children don’t often have the cognitive development, life experience, or emotional resilience to handle it. I’ve seen children suffering with manifestations of anxiety such as panic attacks, insomnia, and obsessive compulsive disorder, just from exposure to the news and social media, on topics like tsunamis and war.  Other anxiety and depression manifestations such as self-harm and eating disorders, are often related to social media pressure or trends, or from feeling overwhelmed and a lack of control in their lives.

Anxiety is a prevalent mental health issues among children these days, affecting their overall well-being and daily functioning. Fortunately, complementary practices such as breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation, and yoga for kids have gained attention for their potential to alleviate anxiety symptoms in children.  I’ve taught in schools, given group kids classes to children from 3 years old and up, and worked one-on-one with children for many years.  Here I will share the benefits I’ve seen of these practices in easing anxiety in children, supported by relevant studies demonstrating their effectiveness.

Yoga for Kids as Anxiety Relief

Yoga combines physical postures (asanas) with breathing techniques (pranayama) and relaxation exercises, offering a holistic approach to reducing anxiety in children. Studies have shown that yoga interventions in schools and clinical settings can lead to significant reductions in anxiety symptoms among children (Butzer et al., 2015; Jensen et al., 2019). Yoga promotes relaxation, body awareness, and self-regulation, empowering children to manage stress and anxiety more effectively.  Being one of the few non-competitive activities kids have during the week, yoga blends structure and creativity, in a non-judgemental that promotes compassion and healthy development.

Breathing Exercises for Calming the Mind

Deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and box breathing, are simple yet powerful tools for calming the mind and reducing anxiety in children. Research has demonstrated that teaching children specific breathing techniques can improve their emotional regulation and reduce anxiety-related symptoms (Kenny & Williams, 2007; Melnyk et al., 2017). By practicing mindful breathing, children learn to activate the body’s parasympathetic relaxation response, leading to a sense of calmness and inner peace.  I have found, that more than any other yoga related technique, breathing exercises are the most efficient tool in lowering a child’s anxiety in the moment, and long-term.

Mindfulness for Emotional Resilience

Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment with openness and acceptance, without judgment. Mindfulness-based interventions have shown promise in reducing anxiety symptoms and enhancing emotional resilience in children (Semple et al., 2010; Zoogman et al., 2015). By cultivating mindfulness skills through practices like mindful breathing and body scans, children learn to navigate their thoughts and emotions more skillfully, leading to decreased anxiety and increased well-being.  I’ve used mindfulness exercises to help children connect with, and understand their thoughts, emotions, and sensations in the body, to give them a greater sense of autonomy.

Meditation for Stress Reduction

Meditation practices, such as mindfulness meditation and Metta (loving-kindness) meditation, offer children valuable tools for stress reduction and anxiety management. Research indicates that regular meditation practice can lead to improvements in attention, self-regulation, and emotional well-being among children (Black et al., 2013; Napoli et al., 2015). Meditation teaches children to observe their thoughts and emotions, without attachment and to cultivate a sense of inner peace and resilience in the face of anxiety-provoking situations, and adversity.  I have found that children take to meditation much easier than adults.  They feel the positive effects of it much quicker, and often start to initiate meditation time of their own free will.

Conclusion

Breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation, and yoga for kids offer effective techniques for reducing anxiety in children.  Learning these skills and practices, empowers children to develop self-awareness, emotional regulation skills, and resilience in the face of stress, social pressure, and anxiety.  They enhance a child’s connection and control over their body, thoughts, and actions, something that is being threatened in this age of technology.  Yoga classes for kids offer them a respite from the pressures of the exams, grades, tests, and goals, they are constantly working towards, in and outside of school.

While further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying the benefits of these practices in children, existing studies, observation, and experience, provide compelling evidence of their effectiveness in promoting mental health and well-being. By integrating breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation, and yoga for kids in their daily routines, we can nurture their holistic development and support their journey towards emotional balance and inner peace.

For the last 15 years I have worked with children of all ages and seen this for myself.  In fact some of those children have now finished university, and have contacted me (usually via Instagram;-) to let me know how they are still benefiting from some of the skills and tools I taught them in class.  However the most beneficial, with long-term effects, is when the whole family get involved, and start implementing the breathing, mindfulness and meditation techniques together.  There’s nothing better than seeing a family enjoying a peaceful moment together, connecting with themselves, and each other!

If you’re a yoga teacher or in a child related job, and would like to learn how to use the different techniques of breathing, meditation, mindfulness and yoga to benefit children, you might be interested in learning about my one week Yoga Alliance 95 hrs Kids Yoga Teacher Training Course. I truly believe that children need these life-long tools even more than adults do, and the Yoga Alliance RCYT course is the most comprehensive, beneficial and informative course of all the courses on offer.

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Meditation and Yoga for Kids with Anxiety

For the last 15 years I have been teaching meditation and yoga for kids (specializing in Autism, ADHD and Anxiety), and have seen the positive effects it can have. Through working with children of 4-16 years old and their parents, using different yoga, breathing, meditation and mindfulness techniques, we have been able to reduce their medication, ease their anxiety, and increase their quality of life.  The increase in stimulation, technology, and social media, in modern life, play a big role in these issues. 

Read More »
Picture of Charlie Stewart-Brown

Charlie Stewart-Brown

Charlie began practicing yoga over 27 years ago as a recommendation for her severe anxiety, and has been teaching for over 15 years to people of all ages and abilities. With over 1300 hrs of training and 22,500 hrs of teaching, she is also the lead trainer on the Indiv Yoga 200 hrs YTT & RCYT Kids Yoga Teacher Training Courses, having certified over 400 students worldwide.  She is the voice of the ‘Yoga and Mindfulness Program’ on British Airways long-haul flights, has spoken at many seminars and corporate workshops, and runs exclusive yoga and meditation retreats during the year.

Originally from London and having worked in New York and Lisbon after her Psychology degree, she has since settled  in Switzerland with her husband, and dedicated her life to expanding her knowledge of the science of yoga, mindful meditation and better physical and mental health.

Over the years Charlie has trained with some of the most renowned yoga teachers around the world (David Swenson, Shiva Rea, Anne-Marie Newland, Leslie Kaminoff, Sadie Nardini, Sonia Sumar etc) certifying in Hatha, Sivanada, Ashtanga, Childrens and Family Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child, & Inner Engineering with Sadhguru. She has become highly respected for her successful work in yoga therapy, especially for Autism, ADHD and other behavioural and developmental syndromes. She has also talked at some of the biggest corporations in Switzerland and the annual SGIS (Swiss Group of International Schools) Conference on implementing Mindfulness in the work place and the education system.

Charlie holds the highest yoga qualifications as an ERYT500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), RCYT (Registered Children´s Yoga Teacher), RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) and YCEP (Yoga Continued Education Provider) with the Yoga Alliance, and has developed Indiv Yoga™ to bring a more physiological, therapeutic and individual approach to yoga. Indiv Yoga™ Switzerland is a RYS (registered yoga school) and RCYS (registered children’s yoga school) providing Yoga Alliance teacher training certifications of the highest professional standards.

The focus of Indiv Yoga™ is to provide the benefits of yoga to every type of individual, using its teachings to achieve physical and mental balance, and diminish the anxieties of modern life for adults and children.

Read her online testimonials and qualifications for a feel of her knowledgeable and friendly professionalism.

charlie meditating by lake

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