Mindfulness is often described as an individual’s awareness of their present state. Meditation and yoga aim to support health and wellbeing and are successful strategies to engage kids and young adults in mindful practices. While still preliminary in a growing field, the following mindfulness benefits are observed in younger populations.
The Academic Benefits
- Meditation can help improve academic performance, attention and behavioral problems in children with learning differences.
- Children’s social skills can be improved through mindfulness practice.
The Physical Benefits
- For adolescents with high blood pressure or those at risk for hypertension, meditation may improve their cardiovascular functioning.
- Yoga may improve respiratory functioning with regular practice, particularly in children with asthma.
- Practicing yoga may reduce self-reported and physiological indicators of anxiety, including resting heart rate.
- Children’s motor function and, specifically their muscle strength, may be improved by yoga.
The Psychological Benefits
- Yoga may reduce attention difficulties and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
- For adolescents with eating disorders, practicing yoga may reduce their symptoms.
While the scientific evidence around the health and wellness benefits of these practices are still being investigated, many children and adolescents will likely find mindfulness strategies to be enjoyable experiences. Wellness aside, when practiced together as a family, meditation and yoga may be fun, recreational activities that strengthen parent-child bonds and nurture whole family development.
About the Author
Dr. James Morgante is a developmental psychologist with expertise in infancy and early childhood development. He studies the applications of developmental science research to social issues and, specifically, informal supports to strengthen developmental outcomes for children and families. He specializes in perceptual-motor development, play, program evaluation, and social support.
James has published seven peer-reviewed research studies in developmental, health, and learning science journals, delivered over 20 presentations at regional, national, and international conferences, and secured nearly $600,000 in research funding. He holds a Doctorate and Master’s in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, Master’s in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and Bachelor’s in Special Education from Vanderbilt University. James completed his postdoctoral training in Psychology at the University of California – Los Angeles.