There are many things you can do to manage stress and cope with change but there is one particular practice that helps many: yoga. Yoga has been practiced for at least five thousand years and it can help you manage a sea of troubles both emotional and physical.
In our 24/7 fast-paced world, taking time to just slow down and breathe while slowly stretching changes both your response to stress as well as heightens your awareness of the inner you. Better breathing alone can reduce stress and increase mindfulness. Might sound a little “woo woo” but having worked with managers in high-demand positions, I have personally noticed their eagerness to begin a practice of mindfulness and slow postures. Decisions and actions become more deliberate and thoughtful versus knee-jerked.
The benefits of children learning yoga are much the same as with adults. Yoga improves flexibility, reduces stress, provides a sense of inner peace, increases concentration and muscle strength, improves balance and quality of sleep.
Miami University published in its Partners in Learning report that incorporating awakening and stimulating poses into yoga practice at the beginning of the day can cause students to become alert and focused for the day ahead. Now imagine what might happen if you did this in a work setting!
USC Dornsife’s Joint Educational Project (JEP) has a program for inner city children called Little Yoginis.In Los Angeles elementary school students already experience stress at home and at school.JEP steps in and teaches these children the practice of yoga in hopes that it will positively affect their school performance.Alumna Teresa Updegraff Power has made a donation to JEP that will held them expand Little Yoginis program by training USC students to become yoga instructors — “USC Yogis” — who will teach the Little Yoginis curriculum at USC Readers Plus Partner schools.
There is an excellent blog post titled “Scientific Evidence for Yoga and Mindfulness in Schools: How and Why Does It Work?” on the Yoga 4 Classrooms Blog that has some fascinating data on the benefits of yoga for school children. You can read it here.
So now, stop reading this blog post. Push away from the screen. Inhale deeply. Stand. And begin your quest for what a small yoga and mindfulness practice might look like in your life.
For me, I have added 20 minutes of yoga to my vigorous exercise regime. The juxtaposition between hard core exercise and yoga –of me—is a perfect blend.Please let me know what you discover.