Quite often, youngsters in Australia encounter very high anxiety levels in school, which naturally has an adverse effect on their academic performance and mental health. So it is vital that schools equip students with the tools necessary to recognise and handle stress better. And yoga is undoubtedly the best way forward.
Especially when it comes to adolescent kids, mental health-related concerns that surface during their formative years often don’t go away soon but are transported right into adulthood.
Higher Anxiety Levels
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a vital component of Australia’s National Assessment Program (NAP). According to the PISA 2015 Results: Students’ Well-Being, almost 47% of Australian students suffer from high anxiety levels when they study as opposed to their counterparts from other countries around the world, whose worldwide average stands at 37%.
Furthermore, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), one of the world’s largest and most distinguished sources of statistical data, reported that an alarming 67% of Australian students say feeling tensed in spite of preparing well for exams. Again, this figure is considerably higher than the global average of 56%. Unfortunately, anxiety affects children of all age groups. An alarming 50% of kids in the age group 7 to 12 years report feeling moderately tense to very tense over exams.
However, student anxiety cannot just be relegated to exams alone because our kids are forced to conform to various socio-cultural norms that include factors like social media and peer pressure. Fortunately, there is a safe and proven method that helped hundreds of thousands of kids the world over cope in today’s rat race – yoga.
Greater Emphasis on Yoga in School Curriculum
An Australian non-profit organisation, Smiling Minds, is trying to push for the national education curriculum to include yoga mindfulness and meditation programs by the year 2020. Many teachers have joined the drive to stress the importance of yoga therapy, even for kids as young as four. By why is yoga becoming so increasingly popular and essential?
Yoga therapy teaches mindfulness – by using your breath to enhance your body awareness. Studies have found that mindfulness programs dramatically improve both physical and mental health because regular yoga practice:
- Reduce anxiety and stress – brings about a sense of calmness no matter how challenging the situation
- Increases concentration, focus, and memory through breathing exercises – yoga helps kid achieve better academic results
- Improves the ability to manage emotions – because kids become more emotionally resilient through self-regulation
- Increases self-confidence – yoga teaches children how to exercise control in tight situations regardless of how difficult the going may seem
- Improves self-discipline and self-awareness – by boosting the willingness to be productive because yoga therapy fosters a desire for learning
- Enhances interpersonal relationships – social development and interaction
- Brings about a healthy balance between body and mind that can be sustained
- Teaches respect and inclusivity – paying attention to our inner emotions and listening to others
- Enhances postures – specific exercises increases flexibility, strength, endurance, aerobic capacity, and balance
- Enhances the quality of sleep – leading to better retentive powers and classroom conduct
- Improves the symptoms of ADHD – by decreasing hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsive behavior thereby improving performance in school
In 2014, nearly 38,000 kids, 19 years of age, dropped out of school early due to anxiety, which cost the Australian government AUD 315 million per year. But more important than this is the negative ripple effect, it has on these kids and their families including unemployment, poverty, substance abuse, an inability to contribute to society, and several mental health issues.
Yoga is so much more than just a physical workout. It helps one harmonise their body and mind, and has an array of physical can mental health benefits. According to an article published in Harvard Health, Harvard Medical School, parents and schools alike are increasingly taking into cognizance the plethora of benefits that yoga provides kids, which is why a growing number of educational institutions the world over are integrating yoga and mindfulness programs into their curriculum.
It’s time Australian schools follow suit!