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Helping Kids to Connect Body, Breath, and Mind

Peeking in on children’s yoga classes, I watch kids doing poses such as tree, snake, butterfly, or lion, while the instructor tells a story about the various ways these creatures behave in nature. As the children wiggle and twist their bodies, I hear roaring and hissing, usually followed by bouts of giggling. Sometimes the children demonstrate poses or lead their class through a favorite pose. The kids also play games. The favorite is when different sized marbles are poured on the floor, and they have to pick them up with their feet and hop back to their mats, where a paper cup is placed to receive the marbles.I watch these classes both as a mother and as a pediatrician, aware that about 4.5 million school-aged children are diagnosed with ADHD and 5.6 million children diagnosed with asthma (at an annual cost of about $52 million and $3.2 billion, respectively). The good news is that yoga — and in particular, yogic breathing, or pranayama — can reduce the number of asthma attacks and the need for medication in chronic asthmatics. Yogic breathing techniques also have been shown to decrease children’s hype …

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