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Yoga and mindfulness could hold the key to calm...

Initial studies of the effects of teaching Yoga and Meditation in children, point to a range
of benefits, including improvement in sleeping and concentration. “Yoga and
mindfulness could hold the key to calm”, say some early learning experts. Meditation is
great for young minds.

The following article published on the 5th August 2017 by Amanda Phelan in the Sydney Morning Herald explains this in a little more detail. Have a read below!

"The reported intervention effects include decreases in stress, anxiety, and depression and increases in empathy, meta-cognition and behavioural regulation in school-aged children and adolescents," says Dr Yoon-Suk Hwang, a research fellow at Australian Catholic University's Learning Sciences Institute Australia (LSIA).

"There is a strong potential for mindfulness programs in schools to develop the self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and social-management, personal and social capability elements documented in the Australian curriculum."

Training more early childhood and school teachers would be required, or it could create an "extra burden for teachers", Dr Hwang says.

There is a push to get mindfulness meditation on the school curriculum across Australia by 2020, says Dr Addie Wootten, a clinical psychologist and chief executive of the non-profit meditation program, Smiling Mind.

“Our mental health is as important as our physical health," Dr Wootten says. "With three-quarters of all mental health disorders emerging by the time a young person reaches 24, it's clear that prevention and early intervention is important.

"Just as we teach kids to eat well and stay fit to keep their bodies healthy, teaching children how to proactively care for their mind is equally important.

"We're developing a new program for early learning centres across Australia to bring mindfulness to children aged three to six years. This is an exciting project in partnership with Murdoch Children's Research Institute and Early Childhood Australia and funded by the Ian Potter Foundation."

Radha Babicci, the director of a long day-care centre in Sydney's inner west, hosts meditation and mindfulness sessions with her charges.

"Teachers, parents, all of us often expect children to just know how to focus but they may actually need some help with learning how," says Babicci, who won an Australian Scholarship Group (ASG) National Excellence in Teaching Award for leadership.

"Yoga and mindfulness are special in that they do just that. Many of the poses in yoga require children to balance and really focus on how to hold and place their body and limbs correctly.

"We do belly breathing or sometimes we call it balloon breathing, which is basically a way to get the children to focus on their breath."

The techniques improve self-esteem, she says.

"Some children start out very shy, not wanting to answer questions or participate in group games but after a few classes they are almost a different child, calling out ideas and eager to get involved with all the games and poses.

"This is because yoga is a fun and non-competitive way for children to not only exercise but connect to themselves."

Babicci has adapted mindfulness techniques into short sessions for children and says practising them can see a serene quiet emerge in a class of under-fives. Children then bring their new-found skills home.

What is mindfulness?

  • Smiling Mind describes it as a basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.
  • Mindfulness programs can improve mental health, sleep quality, concentration, wellbeing, the ability to manage and describe emotions, and reduces tension.

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