Yoga for Happy and Healthy Kids

The yogis consider searching for happiness as everybody’s main goal. Most people, however, settle for a brief, watered-down version of temporary pleasures. When people become dissatisfied with brief, temporary pleasures and find out that relationships, money, or alcohol, for example, do not produce happiness or a sense of purpose, they start looking more deeply into their life either engaging in a therapy with a professional or through self-study. All of this could be avoided if Yoga practice would have become a way of life from early childhood.

The existing theory and research support the importance of implementing daily Yoga practice into pre-, elementary, and middle school children’s lives to onset their positive development. Establishing child’s realistic self-perception of abilities and competencies, inducing intrinsic interest and motivation, fostering self-knowledge and self-control through Yoga practice experience, better prepares them for the future of infinite possibilities.

Yoga can be safely introduced to children in a playful way so they can enjoy what they are doing and become motivated to continue with it. The basic nature of children is dynamic. Their minds are very alert but never steady. Their latent energy can be positively used in asanas (postures) that follow in quick succession with plenty of variety. As children grow, a gradual precision and perfection can be introduced. Through Yoga experience children develop the attributes of courage, concentration, and determination. The rigorous cardiovascular practice through supporting one’s own weight in a combination of postures, while holding these positions with dynamic breathing and flowing into new postures builds strength and focus, makes tight joints more flexible and releases tension. It is a high heat, high-energy workout that increases stamina, tones the body, and develops focus and concentration.

Yoga deals with integration of the body, mind and spirit, so it needs to be studied as such. One of the important by products of yoga is good health of the body and the mind.

Yoga philosophy is said to be best understood through personal experience. Personal, subjective experience is an ideal instrument toward fostering the fundamental components of positive children development. To fully benefit, daily practice needs to be established. The Yoga practice ensures a whole child development by applying the basic universal principles of the mind, body, and spirit unity.


(1) Generosity
- sharing material things one possesses without expecting anything in return. Makes children less selfish and more generous.
(2) Self-Discipline
- doing what has to be done with pleasure while keeping good thoughts and positive attitude. Fosters anger managing skills and one’s ability to communicate disagreements.
(3) Karma
- every action, positive or negative, has its effect. "What goes out comes back". If smile goes out, smile comes back. If fight goes out, fight comes back. “Do onto others as you want others do onto you.”
(4) Self-Study
- the awareness of the Self - of “Who I am” fosters the belief and trust in what one feels is real and right. Ability to stick by one’s beliefs and not to be swayed by peers and other adverse sources. Feeling confident in the knowledge that one's believes, values, and standards are as good and as valuable as others believes, values, and standards.
(5) Sharing
- sharing ideas, experiences, and goods with friends. Feeling each other energy through expressing and experiencing giving and receiving.


(1) Asanas (Postures)
- feeling good in mind and body. A variety of asanas with controlled breathing awakens the inner energy and vitalizes both the mind as well as the body. Intention, attention, focus, concentration, and awareness calm the mind and loosen the body making it supple and healthy.
(2) Pranayama (Breathing technique)
- unlocks energy and vitality and increases the physical and mental health. To breathe into the abdomen, gives 400 times more energy than thoracic breath. Equalizes the inhale and exhale to create a balanced feeling of activity and rest, receiving and offering, and promotes a sense of being even-minded and even-tempered.
(3) Proper Relaxation
- the release of tension through relaxation is vital to keep the body healthy. It allows the released energy to flow freely.
(4) Proper Diet
- eat simple and wholesome predominantly vegetarian, natural foods that are easily digested. It keeps the body vital and healthy, the mind calm and free from restless thoughts, and eliminates cravings that distract concentration.


(1) Positive Thinking
- believing in the Self. One believes what one hears repeated. Especially what one repeats to oneself. Children learn to use positive connotation, specific, clear, and supportive affirmations. This way the brain not distinguishing the difference between fantasy and reality creates positive behaviors.
(2) Intrinsic Interest and Motivation
- young children are active learners. They have inherent tendency to question everything. They are eager to search for knowledge and understanding the world around them. It continually pushes them toward genetically determined talent and potential.
(3) Meditation
- meditation is a state of consciousness. It calms the mind and focuses the mental energy inward. It helps to relieve stress and replenishes energy. Daily practice enables children to think more clearly and positively, and be at peace with oneself.
(4) Focus & Concentration
- focusing on a certain spot in mediation, or in doing asanas that demand focus and concentration, as well as in drawing and coloring mandala - are some of the means to practice and enhance concentration.


Although preschool children are very flexible in their bodies, they lack staying power. The physical power that emanates from the exercise of yoga can also be extended on the mental and spiritual flexibility of the children. With regular daily yoga practice their staying power and mental control will improve greatly (Pantanjali Sutra (I:2); Satchidananda, 1999; Iyengar, 2000; Baptisete, 2002

Yoga asanas (postures) help to strengthen the body and physical coordination to become more physically fit. Focused mind in asana (posture) enhances concentration, self-control, self-power, and self-discipline. Pranayama (breathing techniques) help to calm the emotions and bring clarity and neutrality in reaction. The daily Yoga practice opens the realm of self-discovery, develops a true sense of the Self, helps to define one’s true interests, enhances intrinsic motivation, builds strong self-concept and self-esteem. Being able to find ones center, “ones azimuth,” one finds inner happiness and becomes at peace with oneself. Knowing “who one is; what one wants; and how to get it,” one can unconditionally spread happiness, love, light, and peace (Pantanjali Sutra (I: 2); Satchidananda, 1999; Iyengar, 2000; Baptiste, 2002).

Children as well as adults formulate attitudes and behaviors based on their view of the Self. A healthy self-concept provides a child with a motivation to grow, learn, and achieve self-confidence, self-trust, and self-understanding. Self-concept often provides the child with a healing power when under attack, to cope with a lack of success, and dealing with fears and phobias. Feeling confident about ones capabilities and worth is determining force in self-actualization of an effective person.

Engaging in a mindful, active “Yoga-play” develops creativity, increases self-awareness, self-confidence, and helps in the development of contentment and patience. With the full development of formal-operational reasoning, children will have a high propensity to reflect on the validity of knowledge, and examine various arguments for and against certain conclusions. This process is almost automatic, spontaneous mental process in the formal-operational mind.

In 1983, it was estimated that 1% to 2% of all American children were on Ritalin or some other amphetamine as treatment for hyperactivity during the school year (Safer & Krager, 1983). The use of Ritalin increased 390% between the years 1990-1995 (Wallis, 1995). There is evidence to suggest that the diagnosis of ADHD influences the practices of school psychologists and teachers in special education (McDermott, 1996). Perhaps the availability of a “quick and easy” drug therapy makes the diagnosis of ADHD desirable and therefore overused. Engaging children in Yoga practice experience instead of drugging them might not only stop this unhealthy trend but better yet to prevent it from happening.

There are three very essential prerequisites for vitality and rejuvenation: a healthy central nervous system, healthy glands, and healthy internal organs. Daily Yoga practice plays a multidimensional effect on children’s welfare and positive whole child development, e.g. emotional balance, healthy CNS (central nervous system), endocrine glands, internal organs, digestive system, joints, and healthy skin.

Yoga is an effective and playful min-body-spirit method that can easy join together with child’s daily schedule in school as well as at home to enhance the teaching and learning process beginning at preschool level.

As per Pantanjali, Yoga is not limited to any particular religion or philosophy, or in any other way. It is an universal approach that denies no one, converts no one, and yet recommends techniques of understanding that can expend anyone’s experience of ones philosophy, religion, and most importantly daily life and well-being.

Yoga works toward self-awareness of the body, mind and spirit both separately and in their unity with the ultimate object of finding peace and serenity within regardless of the outside circumstance. Daily Yoga practice assists parents and educators to instill healthy habits in young children as a strong foundation for a positive children’s development. Asanas (poses) take very little time to do. Most postures take only a minute or less. The series of flowing movements “vinyasa” generate heat allowing the body to stretch deeply to increase flexibility. The “prana,” or “life force” breathing throughout the workout focuses the mind, increases awareness, and reduces stress. The result is a vigorous, cardiovascular fitness experience that simultaneously strengthens the body, mind, and spirit. The relaxing and meditative practice allows for calm and focused mind.

The combination of yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation/relaxation technique is an excellent method to help children to relax and to enable them to find their quiet place within. A medley of exercises when integrated with storytelling, games, music, and creative arts awakens children’s multiple intelligences. This system engages the whole child in learning and the development of skills enhances alertness, focus and concentration, self-esteem and confidence, imagination and creative expression, and coordination, physical and spiritual health. Yoga approach thus provides young children with a full mind-body workout to foster and balance the components of positive development.

With daily practice, children develop strength, flexibility, focus and concentration in harmony with their own natural physique and set a life-long foundation for their well-being. Anybody, at any level, can practice and benefit. Several levels of each exercise challenge every stage of physical development and prepare the body for the next. Concentration and focus develop along with physical and mental strength, flexibility and balance.

Overall beneficial properties from Yoga practice suggest the importance of making Yoga a way of ones life. It is thus beneficial for children having the same guidance and support in parents as well as in their teachers. Parents and teachers working together in making Yoga practice child’s daily routine will strengthen child’s Yoga experience and its full benefits.

Children are the future of our community, nation, and the whole world. Setting a healthy life style will prevent the rapidly spreading epidemic in obesity, Type II diabetes, the variety of behavior problems, and resist to negative peer pressure, school crime, and violence. The next generation will be the result of our influence and work. Lets STOP, and most importantly, lets prevent the unhealthy children’s behavior and life style by implementing an easy to do Yoga practice in their daily life. It is in our hands to help children to become the fine human beings of tomorrow which they are so capable of.

For more information about programs for children, teachers, educators, parents please visit: or connect via Skype: docrenk; or call Dr. Irena Vagner at 310 963 8994.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Irena Vagner is a founder of of the "Developmental Enhancement Center - Yoga for Happy Kids" in Los Angeles, CA (1995) and an educational programs director.

Through her research and work at the Developmental Enhancement Center in California, Dr. Irena developed a vehicle for her educational programs focusing on defining a purpose in life. Dr. Irena's teaching approach fuses the integration of what's known to date in philosophy, psychology, and mind-body-spirit unity to experience "Flow" in life. She devoted her teachings to instilling healthy habits using various techniques including guided meditation and Yoga practice paradigm as a vehicle toward meaningful, self-reliant, and happy life.

Clients from all walks of life with a variety of life challenges, including life transition, family relations, self-esteem issues, addiction, abuse, career, creativity blocks, health, stress reduction, to name a few, found her approach soothing and very effective. She encourages and supports the open-mindedness needed for personal growth, and brings skills, compassion, faith and humor to the counseling relationship. She creates a space for developing the individual's greatest potential.

Her Lectures, seminars, programs, and private sessions use the most comfortable way to define the true Self with all the talents,interests, energies, boundless capabilities, and infinite possibilities. Dr. Irena's approach motivates individuals to define what they are here for. She helps to identify one's dream, vision, and mission in life and through well defined self-knowledge, talents, and skills to act upon it.

Her teachings link the knowing with the actually doing. The aim is to cultivate self-respect, inner security, and to develop a commitment to one's own talents. Her teaching philosophy lies in being happy with oneself and with doing work one loves to experience joyful and fulfilling life alas "Flow" in life. Being a wholesome person, happy with the way one's life unfolds, then one is really ready to reach out, to share, and to love.