In case you haven’t noticed, life is full of distractions.
Whether you’re young or old, male or female, there’s plenty happening to keep us both entertained and preoccupied. We move from one thing to another like a bee going from flower to flower, often leaving tasks unfinished or hastily completed, and while productivity is key to realising ones’ potential, a clear and focused mind is vital if you want your time to be used effectively. Concentrate. Breathe. Focus. Learn.
The attention span of a child is directly linked to their ability to perform a task, and their interest in it. As we know, young children begin with especially short attention spans, and their ability to filter out distractions is limited; it is even more so if they have an attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity issues. Obviously, the attention span will grow and develop with age and proper nurturing.
This is where yoga can help, as it can increase a child’s attention span even without the help of time and development; a toddler or pre-schooler who practises yoga will improve their concentration levels because yoga promotes sustained focus.
First of all, yoga grasps a child’s attention because it is a physical activity, and a child is commonly attracted to physical activities because they are ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’. Secondly, yoga is a challenge, requiring problem-solving and concentration to achieve the varied poses. And lastly, yoga prevents distractions because it is an all-encompassing practice that safeguards against the wandering mind; the mental focus naturally decelerates a child’s lightning-fast thoughts.
This is because yoga uses a system called ‘tristhana’; three places to hold the attention simultaneously. Posture, breathing system, and looking place. When practiced regularly, tristhana is an effective tool for supporting the healthy development of the body, the nervous system, and the mind, and children can certainly reap the benefits of this.
Furthermore, ‘asana’ – the physical postures of yoga – make it easy to measure improvement (for both the student and the teacher) because the postures are so visceral.
An intentional yoga practice, with its ethos of calming the mind, body, and soul, can help develop and nurture a child’s attention span into true focus. The benefits are off the mat, too. Yoga is renowned for improving a child’s concentration in school, helping them sit still for longer periods of time, enhancing their problem-solving skills, and decreasing their stress levels. Because, through yoga, children will see that they can accomplish something through concentration. At the end of practice, the child will realise, ‘I achieved something when I was quiet and attentive and dedicated,’ and they may even come to realise that focus and effort can be a calming and positive experience, rather than an overwhelming one.