Without hesitation or doubt, I say emphatically YES! Yoga is absolutely known to reduce stress in people of all ages, help children with concentration, focus, motor skill development and coping skills.
Studies show yoga having profound effects on children with ADHD, autism and sensory disorders. Why wouldn't it be good for all children?
Children's yoga, like many things we teach a child, is a watered down version of yoga. It is delivered to children in a playful way, much like a creative movement class. The poses may have the same (translated to English) names or some names are changed to be more child-friendly, like "Airplane" pose. Many yoga poses have animal names and this aspect of yoga seems like it was just made for children. In fact, early childhood and infant development shows babies, toddlers and preschoolers doing yoga poses naturally as they build motor skills. Have you seen a baby learn to crawl? The early part of building their core is to do Cobra Pose. When they learn to walk, they often come to standing by doing Downward Facing Dog Pose. To me, yoga is synonymous with child development, which is why I love sharing yoga with parents and their babies, as well as children.
Mindful breathing is something that doctors, psychologists, therapists and social workers are now incorporating into their work with children. There is nothing religious or harmful to children by teaching them to take deep breaths and slowly exhale. In fact, children's yoga is particularly far from any religious teachings. Hinduism and Yoga are very separate in the West anyway, but aside from teaching children to be kind to themselves and others, nothing religious ever enters the class.
To clarify any confusion about meditation, there is nothing religious or anti-religion about meditation. Meditation is merely a way to clear ones mind of cluttering or worrisome thoughts. Just like mindful breathing, when one meditates, it is the conscious letting go of negative thoughts and/or focusing on one single thought or idea. With children, meditation often is a guided relaxation using breath and their imaginations to picture peaceful and calming images or places. This is nothing so different than reading a book to a child and sometimes that's exactly what I do when I teach them.
Every time I got to a school or girl/boy scout troop and teach yoga, children, teachers and parents stop to thank me, because they see the positive impact that it has on the kids. As a parent and a yoga teacher, I see how my children, who grew up on yoga, have a calmer approach and attitude than many children their age. I also see how a classroom of bouncy children can sit calmly and quietly after even a 20 minute session of yoga. Contact your local Children's Yoga Teachers and ask about their programs.
In a world where children are weighed down with too much homework, high-stakes tests, too little outdoor play time and too many hours sitting in a chair, expected to pay attention for hours on end, a little yoga and meditation can only do some good.