Why Mindfulness + Yoga For Children and Teens

Mindfulness + Yoga offer essential life skills that allow kids to access inner resources like their breath, body and mindset in times of stress. When kids can activate their inner resources, they can meet challenges with a sense of personal power, and thrive in a wide variety of circumstances.

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Understanding the Need

The Challenges Children and
Teens are Facing Today

We live in a changing and challenging world, filled with an increasing amount of input and a decreasing amount of personal and community connection. Children and teens, just like adults, are impacted in physical, emotional and social ways by the challenges of modern life. A wide variety of outcomes, ranging from behavior challenges to learning difficulties and more, predictably follow. Within the larger social dynamic children are also grappling with pervasive levels of trauma, and rising adult stress and anxiety. Their mental and physical health often suffer as a result, and interventions that address this complex meeting of the inner and outer worlds of our kids are essential.

Anxiety in Children The lifetime prevalence of adolescents 13-18 having an anxiety disorder is 31.9%

Suicide Risk 16% of HS students considered suicide, and 8% attempted to take their own life.

ADHD 6.1 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Childhood Trauma

Effects 2 out of 3 children in the United States


1 in 5 are bullied at school

Trauma is a risk factor for nearly all behavioral health and substance use disorders.

School Related Stress

3 in 10 teens feel overwhelmed by stress on a daily basis


Depression

An estimated 3.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode.

how yoga + mindfulness can help

Our Mission

Our mission is to help kids thrive in the world regardless of circumstances, and navigate the many challenges they face with a sense of personal power and self awareness.

How do Yoga and Mindfulness Work Together?

“Mindfulness is paying attention to your life here and now, with kindness and curiosity.”

AMY SALTZMAN


Kids need to move, and connecting with sensation in the body is a particularly effective way to explore mindfulness. When yoga + mindfulness are taught together, both become more powerful. Yoga offers a pathway to mindfulness, grounded in practice and accessible to all. It cultivates inner resources that maximize resilience and support healthy navigation of challenges. When kids connect with their inner resources, when they identify their own capacity for agency and embrace their personal power, they can thrive regardless of their circumstances, and during their greatest challenges.

Our Methodology

Five Elements of
Our Integrated Approach

Our step-by-step process involves five elements which together offer participants a comprehensive and well-rounded experience. We meet physical, social and emotional needs in an integrated way, while focusing on immediately useful life skills.

 

01

Connect

Cultivate connection to, and awareness of, yourself, others and the world around you.

02

Breathe

Harness the power of your breath to manage your energy and soothe your nervous system.

03

Move

Build a sense of personal power, learn to read the messages of your body, and activate your brain for learning.

04

Focus

Learn to notice when you’re distracted, bring your attention back, and minimize rumination and intrusive thoughts.

05

Relax

Restore alertness, manage over stimulation and improve sleep quality.

Building Essential Skills

How Does Mindfulness Support Social Emotional Learning

At LFY we teach embodied mindfulness practices with the express goal of building social and emotional competencies. By orienting our students, with kindness and curiosity, towards their own inner experience and the experiences of others we lay the foundation for healthy and respectful relationships both internally and externally.

As our curriculum builds, we explore navigating challenges and making decisions in ways that meet our own needs while also considering and caring for the needs of others. Students have the opportunity to both give and receive support, learn how to reflect on their actions and impact, and find intrinsic motivation for good decision making.

 

What we want to Achieve

Building Resilience and Personal Power

Resilience is the process of, the capacity for, or outcome of successful adaptation despite challenging or threatening circumstances. Our kids will come up against many challenges in their lives, and when they do, we want them to be prepared to meet them with a strong sense of their own competence, and a deep well of personal power.

What Does Resilience Look Like?

Early Childhood

  • Developing sense of autonomy
  • Frustration tolerance and ability to begin managing emotions
  • Ability to seek and elicit support

Middle Childhood

  • Self perceived sense of efficacy and competence
  • Belief in ones capacity to influence the world
  • Positive social relationships and access to humor

Adolescence

  • Sense of personal responsibility
  • Internalized set of values
  • Socially perceptive and mature

Great training! I love that the process and the use of yoga as a tool to connect to ourselves and our world and community was the focus of how to teach yoga to children. Definitely a great experience for myself to heighten my awareness and for gaining tools for the children with I work. Can't wait to put it all to use!

Alyssa Simmonds

What We Want to Achieve

How Mindfulness & Yoga are Being Used By LFY Graduates in Education

Our graduates, which include teachers, counselors, school safety officers, administrators and more, work with children and teens of all ages. Some integrate practices directly into the classroom, others have created specialized in-school or after school classes, or programs for teachers, parents and families.

Preschool

Renee Metty
Founder of Cove Preschool

Elementary School

Kelly Love
Yoga + Mindfulness Teacher

High School

Argos Gonzalez,
School Yoga Project Teacher

Research Based Info

Research on Yoga and Mindfulness for Youth

Interest in yoga and mindfulness for children and adolescents has grown rapidly over the past 10 years. Researchers around the world have been busy studying the effects of these practices on youth of all ages, and so far the results are promising. There’s still a lot more research that needs to be done, but here is a sample of what the science is showing us so far:

Mental Health

Yoga and mindfulness may have beneficial effects on outcomes related to children’s psychological well-being, such as reducing anxiety and depression, alleviating stress, and improving mental health.

Physical Health

Studies have found that mindfulness reduces blood pressure and enhances sleep quality in high school students. Research also suggests that yoga enhances physical well-being, physical fitness, and balance, strength and flexibility in youth.

Social-Emotional Skills

Yoga and mindfulness may have beneficial effects on a variety of social-emotional outcomes such as improved self-regulation, reduced hostility, and fewer problem behaviors.

Academic Performance

Yoga and mindfulness may have beneficial effects on academic performance, such as improvements in quarterly grades and high-stakes test scores, and preventing declines in Grade Point Average and high-stakes test (GPA).

More Research to Read

If you’re interested in reading more research on yoga and mindfulness for youth, check out these systematic review papers and meta-analyses:

Research on Little Flower Yoga

We’re excited to share the research we’ve started directly on the Little Flower Yoga + Mindfulness program in schools. While we’ve collected data for many years, we recently worked with researcher Bethany Butzer to redesign our pre- and post- program surveys for both teachers and students, and improve our data collection methods.

We ran our first pilot study using the new designs with 20 students from a New York City high school during the 2017-2018 school year. The students completed a 12-session Little Flower Yoga program by participating in approximately 40-45 minutes of yoga and mindfulness per week over a 3-month period.

Our sample size was small, which means that the results below need to be interpreted with caution, but we’re optimistic that we will continue to see positive effects in future studies, and look forward to sharing more information after this school year. Here is a summary of our results:

 

Students reported statistically significant improvements in their academic skills.

Students reported statistically significant improvements in their emotional awareness.

Students used yoga and mindfulness in other areas of their lives.

Students reported statistically significant improvements in their coping skills.

Students were highly satisfied with the Little Flower Yoga program.

Implementing mindfulness in a closed and structured setting was beneficial to our students. It gave them an opportunity to get closer to one another and their instructor. Students reported utilizing the techniques used such as tapping to wake themselves up while in class, positive affirmations when you say statements such as "I can do this" while in stressful situations (driving test for license, taking the regents, fight with sister), mindful stretching, and silent meditation at home. Students have learned to take better inventory of what they are feeling by implementing breathing techniques they learned. This program has given them the opportunity to put more focus on themselves, to observe their thoughts and feelings, and most importantly learn how to be kind and nonjudgemental to themselves.

School Social Worker at Research Site

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