Students looking to improve their academic performance, or parents looking for ways to help their kids become all-stars in the classroom, have another option other than tutors. It turns out yoga has been shown through studies and anecdotal evidence to improve students’ academic performance, alertness and concentration by relieving stress.
What is stress? Learning relaxation techniques to improve grades
Studies have shown that low or moderate levels of stress can interfere with academic performance, especially as it pertains to tests. Stress results in the inability to concentrate. Practicing yoga leads a person having control over favorable and unfavorable circumstances with moderate responses. Those who practice yoga achieve a serene mind, optimal physical health and spiritual uplift. After six months of practicing yoga, practitioners achieve a feeling of wellbeing, increased vital capacity, a reduction in body weight, and acceleration in endocrinal (hormonal) functions. Improvements with memory and with problems such as headaches, insomnia and nervousness have also been documented.
Children and the benefits of yoga or meditation techniques
Yoga has been shown to have a positive effect on adolescents and children as young as four years old. One study showed that a 4-week program of yoga and meditation lowered aggressive behavior in students, while another reported that meditation improved emotional and physical health and psychological wellbeing. Improvements were also shown in eye-hand coordination, attention, concentration and relaxation.
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Anecdotal evidence of yoga’s positive effect on children
An article in USA Today in 2009 featured the increasing interest in incorporating meditation in schools. One elementary school in California had seen a reduction in fighting and sharper focus from its students. Studies on Los Angeles preschoolers who were taught meditation showed that they exhibited improvements in their ability pay attention and focus. Improvements in early elementary school kids were only shown when they started with attention problems.
Weekly hour-long lessons at schools in England, which were funded with a government grant, helped raise academic performance among students. In 2009, an elementary school in South East London reported a 100 percent pass rate in standardized tests in English, math and science after students were taught breathing exercises before the exams.
How to use yoga to improve academic performance
When incorporating yoga into the curriculum, it’s best to start with breathing techniques. Move onto visualization techniques in which you tell the children to think about a time they were proud of themselves. Instruct them to hold onto that feeling of confidence and visualize themselves doing well on the test. Having students practice tree, seated twists and seated arm stretches will add physical activity to the meditation. Also try yoga breaks during tests.
The evidence of yoga’s benefit is conclusive to reduce levels of stress
Studies have shown that students who practiced yoga performed better in overall academics and in individual subjects than their fellow students who did not practice yoga. Yoga has been proven to change perception, attention, concentration and cognition for the better and to be helpful in managing anxiety. Yoga improves academic performance by controlling stress levels and it should become a fixture in schools.
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