Yoga in Schools - Is it beneficial for children?

Yoga is a pre-vedic Indian practice that deals with spiritual, physical and mental aspects of life. It is increasingly becoming popular in all parts of the world in recent times.

Indian Masters introduced Yoga to the western world, which was quick to recognise its potential as a form of physical exercise to keep fit, flexible and agile. They later discovered and popularized the meditative and spiritual benefits of regular practice of Yoga.

Modern scientific community is divided on the health benefits of Yoga. Clearly, modern science demands more research on the subject and compiling of reliable and authentic data before it can endorse the curative powers of Yoga in treating diseases like cancer.

However, regular practitioners of Yoga point out that it is possible to prevent the onset of diseases by strengthening the body’s immune system through exercise or asanas and adoption of a simple and healthful diet. Even modern medicine endorses physical exercise as a way to fitness and good health, they say. Real Yoga, they point out, is not about making unsubstantiated claims about its supposed ability to cure diseases like cancer, but is about enjoying a simple lifestyle by attaining one’s goals through discipline and by controlling body and the mind.

Should Yoga be made a compulsory subject in schools and how will the the student be benefited from such a step?

The holistic definition of health adopted by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 has Yoga as its integral part and Yoga has been a compulsory subject up to the secondary school stage since the year 1988.

The iCBSE website has more details on the subject in which it is stated, “Both yoga and physical education contribute to not merely the physical development of the child but have a positive impact on psychosocial and mental development as well.”

“Yoga practice contributes to the overall development of the child and various studies have shown that it contributes to flexibility and muscular fitness and also corrects postural defects among school children.”

“There is a need to provide children accurate information and help them to construct knowledge and acquire life skills, so that they cope up with the concerns related to the process of growing up, counter stress and strains and cope up with examination stress.”

“Within this overall framework both yoga and physical education are seen as routes for achieving overall development of children.”

Well, we have heard from the medical community, Yoga masters and practitioners, and education boards. Suffice to say, Yoga does have something to offer to everyone, but consensus is lacking in some areas about the benefits of its practice.