September is back to school and also Yoga Awareness month. You may have experienced the amazing benefits of practicing yoga or perhaps you have read how scientists now conclude that yoga improves overall mental and physical health. This includes “for all ages” with research involving kids and teens showing great benefits. Here are a few examples to consider: researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a 12-week program studying 97 fourth and fifth graders, half of which took yoga classes while the other half did not. The results revealed that the children who practiced yoga showed an overall improvement in behavior and in their ability to concentrate. The yoga students were better able to handle stress, anxiety and control negative thoughts associated with depression. The findings published in 2008 in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology has prompted similar programs to be created in schools and inner city youth groups across the country.

According to Jessica Noggle, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, “Yoga may serve a preventive role in adolescent mental health.”  Dr, Noogle led a study comparing the benefits of yoga versus PE following fifty-one 11th and 12th grade students from a Massachusetts high school over the course of 10 weeks. When they compared teens who practiced yoga with those who took PE classes, 2-3 times per week, the yoga students had better scores on several psychological tests and showed more improvement in mood, anxiety and depression than those just taking the PE classes. This study was published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and described how over the course of the 10-weeks the teenage yoga students were taught physical postures, breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation.

It was also noted in both studies that the kids and teenagers demonstrated an improvement in self-esteem, self-confidence and body image. They found yoga class to be a fun but challenging way to move, stretch and strengthen their bodies; to focus and calm their minds and at the end of class to rest with a quiet meditation. For September StillPoint Yoga Studio has partnered with the Yoga Health Foundation to encourage everyone new to yoga to try a ONE WEEK FREE pass. At StillPoint we support the positive physical and mental growth of children, teens and adults with weekly yoga classes. To quote one 10 year old StillPoint yoga student after a recent class, “I feel so relaxed and happy.” And that is yoga.