SYK – Serve Your Komuniti
Joint Projects with Malaysian Yoga Society (MYS)
As the SYK’s Mission statement implies:
It takes a yogic community to raise a wholesome child.
SYK joined hands with the Malaysian Yoga Society (MYS) to actively run community teaching projects in various vicinities.
Certified yoga instructors were joyfully deployed into various neighbourhoods to interact and guide the school children.
The once a week classes were well greeted with students’ open arms and gleeful smiles.
In time, positive reviews flowed in from respective school teachers and principals.
If you’d like to bring some SYK joy to your community, send us an invitation!
How does Yoga work for Children?
To many parents and the layperson, yoga lessons for children seem unnecessary or may even be mistakenly compared on par to activities such as gymnastics or ballet or just for the kids to have fun while stretching. More often than not parents will place priority on an educational based tuition programme for their children focusing only on one aspect of learning (eg. math, science, language, art).
Perhaps this oversight is due to the general lack of understanding what yoga is in its completeness, further obscured by the way it has been delivered over the past decade with over emphasis on its physical appearance, which is only one narrow aspect of yoga.
Completing a Child’s Education with Yoga
When yoga is brought to children within an educational context the poses can act as “pathways” to enhance learning in the areas of math concepts, linguistics, ecology, science, nature, reading and more. Approach to teaching is playful and creative, not to criticize the child, but rather encourage a more team based group approach. For example, instead of getting it 100 percent correct, the process of following, assuming and maintaining a yoga pose is emphasised.
In a yoga class with active participation, improvements in body and spatial awareness takes place, and the children become more confident. They will then naturally be motivated to experiment and challenge themselves to go beyond their conditioned boundaries.
Another aspect of the benefits of yoga is sensory based. The poses, breathing exercises and mind training provide feedback to improving children’s integration of sensory input. The child can be encouraged to simply verbalise positive statements which can help the child feel powerful, confident and capable to deal with whatever challenges them. Imagine a six year old in a “Brave Warrior” pose stating, “I am strong, I can do my work.” or a group of children supporting each other in a balancing “Tree” pose stating “Together we focus and help each other be strong.”
Many of today’s children are overbooked with organised activities, experience high academic demands and other social / family anxiety issues. Yoga techniques incorporating relaxation, visualisation, stress relief and breathing give children a chance to let go of the stress they feel in their lives. The ability to calm one’s self is a skill that will benefit a person from childhood to old age.
Here are 5 examples from numerous research studies to prove that yoga does work for children in more ways than one…
- In a research in Bangalore a group of children demonstrated a 43% rate of improvement in the spatial memory suggesting that yoga practice (including physical postures, yoga breathing, meditation, and guided relaxation) improved the performance of children’s right-hemisphere brain activity. – Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2004
- Another study in Vivekenanda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore, showed a group of children from ages 9 to 13 who received yogic training (postures, breathing, maintenance of silence, visual focusing exercises, and games to improve attention span and memory) had a 17% increase in steadiness at the end of the period. It concludes that yogic instruction improves children’s ability to control their minds and bodies.
- Studies in the US have evaluated the programs whereby teachers incorporate yoga techniques in the classroom in schools and students demonstrated improved self-esteem and academic performance as well as the ability to relax.
- A yoga program was introduced yoga to boys with ADHD and was effective for stabilizing emotions and reducing children’s oppositional and disruptive behaviour. Most of the boys were under medication and research findings were that yoga was particularly beneficial when medications wore off. Parents also reported that children were able to hold their attention and were less restless after yoga. – Journal of Attention Disorders
- A study in Germany showed that students who received regular 60 minutes yoga instruction had an increased emotional balance in the long term and showed reductions in fear, feelings of helplessness, and aggression. This study also observed that students who received yoga instruction transferred what they had learned to situations outside of school to improve their well-being and to control negative feelings. – Early Child Development and Care, Vol. 175
Bringing Yoga to Schools in Malaysia
Since February 2011, weekly yoga lessons have been conducted at two schools in Kajang by karma yoga teachers of MYS. Despite the time spent traveling through the heavy morning traffic from K.L., the momentum of the classes has not waned. Perhaps this is also fuelled by the enthusiastic response of the 60 something students, who try their best not to miss their weekly sessions that seem to settle a mist of calm cheerfulness over them on Fridays. These children might consider it a TGIF of sorts.
Follow our progress in the following joint projects with MYS:
SRK (T) Saraswathy, Jalan Klang Lama