Yoga for Babies and Children: Introduction, Definition and Importance of Yoga, Benefits of Yoga, Yoga in Education

Yoga for Babies and Children: Introduction, Definition and Importance of Yoga, Benefits of Yoga, Yoga in Education

Besime Bilmez (Genc Vocational School Child Care and Youth Services, University of Bingöl, Turkey) and Neriman Aral (Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Child Development, Ankara University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2952-2.ch021
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This chapter describes how yoga is a means to relax the body, slowing breathing, and mentally calming down. Yoga in general includes physical postures / poses, breathing practices and movement meditation to improve self-regulation skills within the body and mind. An examination is made in this chapter of how yoga can be taught to babies and young children.
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Yoga; is based on the combination of techniques that have an influence on the individual after affecting the body, mind and emotions. Yoga is generally practiced as a mental and physical exercise system in the West and causes relaxation. Yoga can be practiced by everyone without any difference in belief (Höbek Akarsu, 2016) and can be widely used to support the development of children.

Yoga provides children with fun, non-competitive and social experience in the educational environment, physical and motor development, social and emotional development, cognitive development, creativity and discovery (Young et al., 2017). Yoga, in its traditional form, is a holistic practice system that includes multiple techniques including physical postures / exercises, breathing exercises, deep relaxation techniques and meditation / awareness practices. Biomedical and psychosocial research on the clinical effectiveness of yoga for both adults and children has been increasing rapidly in recent years, especially in the last five years (Jeter et al., 2015), and systematic research reviews emphasize that yoga is particularly effective in reducing stress and improving mood (Pascoe and Bauer, 2015; Sharma, 2014).

Therapeutic applications of yoga have been shown to be valid in improving both physical and mental health when applied to children and adolescents (Ganpat and Nagendra, 2011; Birdee et al., 2009). Telles (2012), one of the world's leading Yoga researchers, concluded that yoga improves the physical and mental health of children in his study named as Effects of Yoga on Children's Mental Health. Three special skills or features developed by yoga include; self-regulation and physical fitness, along with improvements in mind-body awareness, mental state, health, behavior and performance. Through the practice of meditation and awareness, mental body awareness is increased; this contributes to positive behaviors and outcomes as a result of increased awareness of positive feelings associated with healthy behaviors (Butzer et al., 2016). Khalsa et al. (2012) state that Yoga in schools helps children develop their flexibility, mood and self-regulation skills related to emotion and stress. Yoga is therefore an important life skill tool for children and young people to cope with life-long stress and self-regulation. It is claimed that yoga is effective for maintaining emotional balance and training the mind and body. In the studies, it was found that Yoga is a good tool for listening to the heart (Langøien, 2013) and Yoga practices significantly increase the emotion regulation skills of adolescents (Daly et al., 2015).

In Yoga; integrity of mind, body and soul; harmonious operation of all systems in the body and the elimination of contrasts that disturb feelings and thoughts at the mental level can be achieved. Other studies have shown that physical and cognitive therapy, consciousness awareness and mind-body movements such as Yoga are effective in reducing cortisol secretion and thus improve mood and increase happiness (Sharma, 2014; Chong et al., 2011). It can lead the individual to connect with the universal spirit, thus reaching all parts of the self and improving it (Özdemir, 2018). Considering that the benefits of yoga will also contribute to the development of the child, awareness studies should be carried out. In this section, the definition, importance and benefits of yoga, the use of yoga in education, and yoga in infants and children are discussed.

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