With the recent spate of mass shootings, people have begun to ask what it will take to reduce violence, especially among kids or in places where they spend time. We know that violence does not just occur in random places sparked by uncertain things. It also takes place daily in schools or on street corners. So while the answers to the question of how we can reduce violence are likely to be complicated, finding ways to reduce stress and encourage mindfulness in youth can help. After all, violence seems to be more of a symptom than the actual problem itself, occurring most often when overwhelming emotions or problems spiral out of a child or adult’s control.
Can Yogic Practices Help?
Violence is a result of many things, including mental illness and feelings of loss, anger, loneliness, and powerlessness. Fortunately, these feelings are something that a yoga practice can address, especially when meditation is guided by someone who intentionally wants to empower and encourage students who are dealing with these types of emotions. In addressing these negative feelings, yoga gives its practitioners, especially young people, an internal locus of control. This essentially equips practitioners with the ability to manage those emotions that seem so strong and overwhelming, so that rather than giving in to the anger or powerlessness, practitioners can gain control over those feelings and return to a place of calm.
The Benefits of Yogic Methodology
Those who are unfamiliar with yogic methods might wonder how we can make such claims. The truth is that studies have demonstrated yoga’s ability to impart a more relaxed, tranquil emotional landscape to its practitioners.
First, the physical activity involved in a yoga training session releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones, and strengthens and tones the body. This results in a physically healthier practitioner to begin with. Restless kids benefit from a yoga session that allows them to channel energy or aggression into challenging activities rather than teachers or peers. Essentially, this is the same argument that sports participation makes for its advantages to youth, but yoga can offer even more than athletics can by addressing emotional and mental needs as well.
A regular practice involves postures, breathing meditation, and employs other relaxation techniques. Different poses and various deep breathing patterns turn a person’s focus inward to attempt to reach a quiet, relaxed place in their minds and bodies. Kids who practice yoga can be guided through imaginative journeys that help reduce negative emotions and encourage self-control. For example, after a fun session of yoga poses, the teacher might end with a five minute period of deep breathing and relaxation, where children are encouraged to imagine a trip into the forest where they find their own special place that they can put each problem or bad feeling they are experiencing. Young people who practice yoga in this way are more focused and engaged in school and have fewer behavior problems than those who do not regularly practice yoga.
Clearly, yoga may not be the only way to reduce violence, but it can be a start. Its proven benefits for practitioners, academically, emotionally, and behaviorally, make it a smart choice for both children and adults who need a healthy outlet for negative emotions.
© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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