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Yoga's Positive Effect on Behavior

yoga child behavior
How Yoga is Helping Swedish Prisoners

"Crim" yoga is all the rage among inmates in Sweden's prisons. Thousands of prisoners have participated in the yoga program since it began in 2008. The program was introduced by the Swedish Prison and Probation Service to improve prisoner behavior and reduce the chance that inmates will commit new crimes once they are released. During a study commissioned by the Prison and Probation Service, 152 prisoners were divided into two groups. One group participated in yoga classes, while the other group performed traditional exercises.

Prisoners who were in yoga group noted:

  • Less antisocial behavior
  • Better impulse control
  • Fewer conflicts with other inmates
  • A reduction in self-destructive behavior
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Less aggression
  • Improved sense of well-being

It's hoped that the prisoners will continue to make yoga a part of their daily routines when released and use it manage the stressors that can make life challenging.

Does your child struggle with behavioral issues, or do you wish you could find a natural way to reduce your anxiety level? Yoga offers the perfect way to improve behavior and reduce stress. Although many people are familiar with the physical benefits of yoga, the mental health benefits are often overlooked.

Yoga for Autism

Children who have autism often have difficulty with self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to control behavior and emotions and modify them when situations or circumstances change. Sensory integration, a process used to receive and process information from our senses, is a crucial part of self-regulation. Children who have autism are often very sensitive to environmental factors, such as bright lights or loud environments. Without a strong sensory integration system, they cannot effectively control their emotions or behaviors when they encounter these triggers.

Yoga poses and breathing techniques not only help children with autism improve sensory regulation, but also offer several other important benefits, including:

  • Improved focus
  • Better concentration
  • Less anxiety
  • Impulse control improvements

Researchers followed 37 students with emotional and behavioral disorders who participated in yoga sessions for 3 1/2 months at their elementary school. At the conclusion of the study, teachers noted that the children who participated in the study displayed fewer behavioral problems, less depression and better ability to concentrate in class.

Schools across the country use the Get Ready to Learn yoga program to help students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) control and manage behavior. The program is aimed at children ages 5 to 12 years and combines yoga poses, targeted breathing techniques, chanting and relaxation techniques. Researchers discovered that children who participate in the Get Ready to Learn program at school every morning experience less social withdrawal, lethargy, hyperactivity and irritability.

Although this particular program is geared toward autism spectrum disorders, yoga can be an effective solution no matter what type of behavioral disorders children have.

Yoga for Stress and Anxiety

Whether you are a child or adult, anxiety can affect the quality of your life and your ability to cope with stressful situations. With its focus on meditation and deep relaxation, yoga is an ideal solution for people who frequently express anxiety and stress.

Just 20 to 30 minutes of meditative yoga daily can help you or your children decrease tension, foster a sense of well-being and balance cortisol levels that help your body manage stress. Living with constant anxiety or stress takes a toll on the body, increasing your risk of muscle aches, depression, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. In fact, symptoms that you thought were caused by a strained muscle may actually be a side effect of stress. The more stressed you are, the more acutely you feel pain.

Anxiety can be a particular problem for children who have ASD or other behavioral or emotional issues. Often these children recognize that their behavior is a problem, but do not have the ability to change it. Yoga gives children an effective tool that can help them cope with upsetting or confusing situations. Best of all, yoga and meditation can be performed practically anywhere at any time.

Could your child benefit from yoga? Contact us and we will help you find the find the perfect class.


Harvard Health Publications: Yoga for Anxiety and Depression


American Occupational Therapy Association: Evidence Exchange, 2014


Journal of Child and Family Studies: Yoga in an Urban School for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 08/13


Acta Paedopsychiatrica: Relaxation Therapy Reduces Anxiety in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Patients


Yoga Digest: Yoga for Improving Behavior in Children with Autism


NY Post: Yoga Helping Swedish Prisoners Behave Better, 09/17/16


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