Unbound’s Creative Spin On Yoga Helps Kids Handle Stress

Mar 5, 2015 | Yoga | 0 comments

We believe in transparency, so we want to let you know up front that we may have affiliate links in this post. Affiliate links allow us to support the site and create great content at no cost to you.

3 min read

Cute kids in Savasana at a yoga class in Kansas

Kids growing up in the urban core and marginalized parts of the world face daunting challenges that go beyond education or getting enough to eat. Many of the families in Unbound’s program also experience daily fear and anxiety with the same challenges.

Unbound, an international humanitarian organization headquartered in Kansas City, Kan. works in 21 countries around the world. Unbound serves more than 300,000 children, youth, elders and their families as they fight to break free from poverty.

Mothers groups in Bogota, Colombia occasionally use relaxation techniques during their monthly group meetings to reduce stress in their everyday lives.

“Doing breathing exercises before the start of a mothers group meeting is a way for the moms to become calm,” said Judith Bautista, project coordinator in Bogota. “This activity brings a sense of calmness and harmony to the group.”

Though it’s difficult for Unbound staff in Kansas to use these calming techniques in the field themselves, Ellen Edgar, project specialist at Unbound and a yoga instructor, uses a unique type of yoga to help reduce stress in a class of 4 and 5 year olds at Operation Breakthrough, a local Kansas City organization.

“There are so many benefits for kids who practice any physical activities regularly such as coordination, strength, physical fitness, concentration, increased self-esteem,” said Edgar. “In my opinion, yoga stands out because it focuses specifically on the mind-body connection. It helps to give kids tools for when they feel worried or anxious. Yoga teaches that our breath and mind and body are all linked, so you can use your breathing and your body to calm your mind.”

Several Unbound employees exercise with yoga and even hold weekly classes after work. They decided to bring it to the Operation Breakthrough as a way to help the children manage their bodies and emotions.

According to Brijin Gardner, director of clinical and social services at Operation Breakthrough, many of the kids at Operation Breakthrough are dysregulated and are seen in a state of hyper arousal. They struggle with managing their bodies and emotions.

“We use Namaste as a mantra,” said Gardner. “When they hear that word, students raise their hands, close their eyes, and calmly say ‘Namaste, SHHHHH, calm body.’ We are training the brain to calm the body down.”

Operation Breakthrough uses several calming techniques, including yoga, but Edgar added a few new touches.

Edgar had a bag of animal beanie babies and the children would take turns choosing one. Then the whole class did the yoga pose associated with the animal chosen, which included a flamingo, penguin, snake, horse, monkey and many more.

“This kind of yoga is non-competitive and teaches acceptance of your body, so it’s a great way for kids to be active who might not always get picked first for sports or be as competitive,” said Edgar. “For kids who love competition, yoga can be a nice balancing activity – encouraging them to collaborate with others and work together.”

The last activity of the class was for the kids to lie down on their mats with their beanie baby on their tummy. According to Edgar, this encourages deep breathing, which can alleviate stress and anxiety. The animal gives them something to focus on and helps them to feel more grounded.

“Yoga, guided imagery, music and other breathing techniques are teaching students how to manage their bodies,” said Gardner. “Research is demonstrating that learning these types of skills can buffer effects of stress on the brain and encourage life skills for children and adults.”

Unbound is the largest nonprofit in Kansas with more than $120 million in annual revenue. Unbound works side by side with people of diverse faith traditions in 21 countries, bringing people together to challenge poverty in new and innovative ways.

Yoga Poses for a Bulging Disc

Yoga Poses for a Bulging Disc

Photo by Chermiti Mohamed on Unsplash. Many people suffer from bulging discs, but aren’t quite sure how to deal with them. While they often cause irritation, sometimes it’s not enough to need surgery or medications. One of the best ways to help deal with and even fix...

5 Healthy Benefits of Green Tea That You Probably Didn’t Know

5 Healthy Benefits of Green Tea That You Probably Didn’t Know

Originally published 19 May 2017 A lot can be said for Chinese medicine and their use of natural remedies to maintain health and wellness. What is just now being discovered is that there are some other, but just as important, benefits of green tea that can be key to living a long and healthy life. […]

8 Awesome Benefits of Yoga

8 Awesome Benefits of Yoga

Yoga can be beneficial for men, women and children of all ages. Although it’s been practiced since the sixth century B.C., yoga has recently been gaining an increasing amount of attention across all lifestyles due to its many health benefits. Although some practice yoga for spiritual purposes, many modern participants are most interested in the […]

Yoga Mats: What are they, and do you need one?

Yoga Mats: What are they, and do you need one?

There are literally thousands of yoga mats on the market, and all of these choices can be difficult for a beginner yogi to wrap their head around. You may see all these dozens of yoga mats and feel paralysed by all the choices, and then you find yourself wondering,...


Get 3 Months on Kindle for just $1



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


↞ Get On Your Mat