Before COVID-19, mental health among children and teens were already on the rise. A 2018 study conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and Melbourne University shows that the mental health and well-being of Australian students has declined significantly since 2003. Nearly half of the students surveyed reported feeling “very stressed” (up from 28% in 2003). The number of students who reported feeling confident while doing difficult schoolwork has fallen from 76% to 59%. The findings also show an increasing lack of resilience among a growing number of young people.
COVID-19 has resulted in further deterioration of mental health in children and teens. The constant disruption in education settings, social isolation, watching parents deal with job losses, financial or health issues as well as seeing news and social media coverage of COVID-19 can be unsettling, and at times, distressing for children and adolescents. This can have a significant impact on their mental health, more so if they are already at high risk.
Secondary School students face far more complex issues in comparison to Primary school children. They are going through a lot of changes – their bodies are changing and they are going through a roller coaster of emotions brought upon by puberty. Add to this the pressure of performing well academically on tests and VCE exams, as well as making choices about their future as they enter adulthood.
Stress can impede the ability to focus, concentrate and self-regulate emotions. These factors can lead to poor academic performance, early dropouts and participation in risky behaviour.
Australian children spend 13 years in school. Schools therefore have the power to equip children with tools and techniques that help them take personal responsibility for managing their physical and mental health and wellbeing from an early age.
Namaste Yogis can help support the students in the school community through our dedicated Secondary School children and teen’s yoga program. Yoga is a modality that has been proven to be effective in helping children manage their mental health and wellbeing. Yoga can help adolescents focus, self-regulate their emotions, instil a sense of calmness as well as grounding to help children build resilience, optimism and self-confidence. This helps children deal with change, while also improving their physical strength and flexibility.
Research conducted in the US has shown that introducing yoga in schools can have positive effects on student concentration, self-regulation, attention, anxiety, stress, mood and resilience.
Our Primary School yoga program use specific children’s yoga therapy poses (based on the Zenergy framework), using meridian line therapy techniques as well as traditional yoga poses. These helps address issues specific to children in Primary School, such as stress & anxiety, depression, diabetes, digestion, focus and concentration, weight management, whilst also building strong backs and healthy lungs.
Yoga classes are developed with the child in mind, making sure the classes are age appropriate and engaging. Classes includes breathing exercises, storytelling (younger primary school age children only), individual, partner & group yoga poses, mindfulness and reflection, yoga games, relaxation and meditation. Each class is tailored to the children’s energy and the group dynamics on the day.
Children are given the opportunity to co-create the class within the boundaries of the theme. This encourages working together, self-expression and creativity, helping to develop social skills whilst giving children the tools to manage their mental health and wellbeing.
Our classes start with a warm up and breathing exercise to help centre and educate the children on the importance of the breath. This is followed by a suite of yoga poses, mindfulness, relaxation and meditation.
The duration for yoga classes depends on the age:
Prep / Foundation: 30 minutes
Grades 1 to 4 / Juniors & Middles: 45 minutes
Grades 5 to 6 / Seniors: 45 – 60 minutes
Our Secondary School yoga program use specific children’s yoga therapy poses (based on the Zenergy framework), using meridian line therapy techniques as well as traditional yoga poses. These helps address issues specific to adolescents, such as stress & anxiety, depression, focus & concentration, diabetes, menstruation, weight management, improving self-confidence and building strong backs.
Yoga classes for teens start with a warmup (which becomes even more important as the child gets older and less physically active), breathing exercises, yoga poses (individual, partner and group poses), mindfulness, reflection, yoga games, relaxation and meditation. For teenagers, the amount of time spent on relaxation increases in duration. Relaxation can be as long as 15 to 20 minutes. Our experience has shown teenagers easily reaching a deep state of relaxation in our yoga classes. They leave the yoga class calm, centred and at peace with themselves.
A 60 minutes yoga class is highly recommended for secondary students, especially for VCE students.