Breaking News
More () »

How yoga can help kids with behavioral problems

Studies have proven that practicing yoga at a young age can help kids with concentration, mindfulness and patience.

DENVER — The answer to treating behavioral problems in children may not always be the medication so many parents and doctors are used to reaching for.

For some, practicing yoga can be life-changing for kids and babies.

“The way that they learn is by emulating the environment around them,” said 9NEWS health expert Dr. Payal Kohli. “The earlier you can teach them these behaviors, and these are behaviors as simple as things like belly breathing and as simple as being present in the moment, the more likely they are to adopt them and the more likely they are to continue them into adulthood.”

Parents are putting their kids in yoga classes as young as 6 months old. Although babies may not be moving into the traditional yoga poses, Kohli said just being around the practice can help form good habits.

“It may not seem like they’re quite understanding the benefits of mindfulness, but if you get them started early, it’s really going to become a routine part of their life," Kohli said.

RELATED: Trauma program grows after receiving $250,000 grant

It's a concept that Casey Feicht — chief play officer for Kids Yoga Guide — has been practicing for the past decade. 

“We do a lot of songs, we move around a lot, it’s very play-based, so it’s actually great for kids with ADHD, for kids who have a lot of energy,” she said.

Feicht began teaching kids yoga after she saw the benefits of practicing with her child. Now, she watches her students grow.

“I have moms who brought their babies to my classes, and now they’re 10 years old and coming to the teen/tween classes,” Feicht said. “The kids are just growing up very conscientious, very aware of themselves and other people, very mindful, kind and considerate.”

Studies have backed this up, including one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that focused on middle school students who just started practicing yoga.

“There was less activation of the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain,” Kohli said. “They were less likely to have stress, more likely to have better self-confidence, more self-esteem, lots and lots of benefits.”

“These types of interventions are actually more sustainable over time, so they work better than medications in some ways because they last longer and the effects of these interventions last sometimes even when you stop doing the interventions.”

RELATED: Workout Wednesday: Balance training can help prevent injuries

If you’d like to try a yoga class with your child, bring yoga to your school or train to become a kids' yoga teacher, you can find more information here.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS | Feature stories

Before You Leave, Check This Out