How Yoga Can Contribute to Self-Esteem and Self-Acceptance in Children

Yoga offers several benefits for children when it comes to self-esteem and learning to love themselves just as they are. These benefits are closely tied to the mindful and self-reflective aspects of yoga practice.  It’s important to note that the benefits of yoga for self-esteem and self-acceptance in children can be enhanced when combined with guided discussions, storytelling, and activities that encourage self-reflection and self-expression. Additionally, parental involvement and a supportive environment at home can reinforce the lessons learned in yoga classes.
Here’s how yoga can contribute to self-esteem and self-acceptance in children.

Body Awareness

Yoga encourages children to become more aware of their bodies. Through gentle movement and poses, children can develop a deeper understanding of their physical selves. This heightened body awareness can lead to greater self-acceptance and self-love.


Yoga teaches children to be present in the moment and to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment. This mindfulness practice helps them become more in tune with their inner selves and fosters self-acceptance.

Positive Self-Talk

Yoga often includes the use of positive affirmations. By repeating affirmations like “I am strong” or “I am loved,” (or by doing the yoga poses with a positive story) children can cultivate a more positive self-image and self-esteem.

Emotional Regulation

Yoga teaches children how to manage their emotions. Through relaxation and breathing exercises, they learn how to find inner calm and reduce stress and anxiety. This can lead to greater self-confidence and emotional resilience.

Acceptance of Imperfection

Yoga philosophy emphasizes that we are all works in progress, and perfection is not the goal. This mindset can help children embrace their imperfections and understand that they are enough just as they are.

Confidence Building

As children practice and master yoga poses, they gain confidence in their physical abilities. This confidence can extend to other areas of their lives and boost their overall self-esteem.


Yoga can be a form of self-expression for children. Through creative movements and poses, they can express their emotions and unique personalities, which can foster self-acceptance.

Embracing Differences

Yoga promotes an inclusive and non-competitive environment where children learn to respect and appreciate the differences in themselves and others. This can lead to a more inclusive and accepting attitude.

Gratitude and Self-Love

Yoga often incorporates gratitude practices, where children express gratitude for themselves and the people they love. This helps reinforce the importance of self-love and self-acceptance.

Positive Role Models

In yoga classes, children often have positive role models in their instructors and fellow practitioners who promote self-love and acceptance.


Yoga for Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Well-Being: Research Review and Reflections on the Mental Health Potentials of Yoga
Ingunn Hagen,* and Usha S. Nayar Front Psychiatry. 2014; 5: 35.
Published online 2014 Apr 2.

This article discusses yoga as a potential tool for children to deal with stress and regulate themselves. Yoga provides training of mind and body to bring emotional balance. We argue that children and young people need such tools to listen inward to their bodies, feelings, and ideas. Yoga may assist them in developing in sound ways, to strengthen themselves, and be contributing social beings. First, we address how children and young people in today’s world face numerous expectations and constant stimulation through the Internet and other media and communication technologies. One reason why children experience stress and mental health challenges is that globalization exposes the youth all over the world to various new demands, standards, and options. There is also increased pressure to succeed in school, partly due to increased competition but also a diverse range of options available for young people in contemporary times than in the past. Our argument also partially rests on the fact that modern society offers plenty of distractions and unwelcome attractions, especially linked to new media technologies. The dominant presence of multimedia devices and the time spent on them by children are clear indicators of the shift in lifestyles and priorities of our new generation. While these media technologies are valuable resources in children and young people’s lives for communication, learning, and entertainment, they also result in constant competition for youngster’s attention. A main concept in our article is that yoga may help children and young people cope with stress and thus, contribute positively to balance in life, well-being, and mental health. We present research literature suggesting that yoga improves children’s physical and mental well-being. Similarly, yoga in schools helps students improve resilience, mood, and self-regulation skills pertaining to emotions and stress.

It is becoming increasingly common for frontline clinicians to see children and teenagers struggle with their mental health. Since mental health issues have increased over the past ten years in the UK, they are now the leading cause of disability and cost the British economy £105 billion annually…The evidence for yoga therapies in children is encouraging, although studies include methodological flaws such as small sample sizes and sparse information on interventions. This review has highlighted that yoga interventions may be implemented in schools as a preventative and therapeutic measure for mental health issues.

Khunti K, Boniface S, Norris E, De Oliveira CM, Nicola Shelton. The effects of yoga on mental health in school-aged children: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of Randomised Control Trials. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2023;28(3):1217-1238. doi:10.1177/13591045221136016

Over the years, mindfulness and yoga-based interventions have been widely implemented in schools and demonstrated promising results. Despite the benefits, there is limited literature on the effects that yoga may have for young children. Furthermore, extant research on yoga and young children has primarily used quantitative methodologies. The objective of this study was to investigate pre-kindergarteners’ and kindergartners’ experiences with yoga through a qualitative-exploratory approach.

This qualitative-exploratory study used interview methods and the application of grounded theory to learn about children’s perceptions (n = 154) of participating in a randomized waitlist-controlled trial an eight-week yoga intervention that targeted self-regulation and emotion regulation. The post-intervention child interview findings are reported here.

Two themes, grounded in the dataset and most relevant to the topic of children’s experiences in practicing the yoga, emerged in the analysis: (1) children’s positive emotions about the yoga; and (2) children’s knowledge of yoga and self-regulation skills. Children were often eager to share their feelings and knowledge about the yoga and demonstrated their embodied expertise regarding their own emotions and bodies and thus ability to serve as active participants in the research process.

This qualitative-exploratory study contributes to the research on the physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits of yoga for young children. Future researchers may work towards understanding how yoga promotes children’s development at a young age and conduct follow-up investigations into the embodied experiences and benefits of yoga practices with children.

Rashedi, R.N., Wajanakunakorn, M. & Hu, C.J. Young Children’s Embodied Experiences: A Classroom-Based Yoga Intervention. J Child Fam Stud 28, 3392–3400 (2019).

The evidence shows physiological benefits of yoga for the pediatric population that may benefit children through the rehabilitation process, but larger clinical trials, including specific measures of quality of life are necessary to provide definitive evidence.

Galantino, Mary Lou PT, PhD, MSCE; Galbavy, Robyn PT, MPT; Quinn, Lauren DPT. Therapeutic Effects of Yoga for Children: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Pediatric Physical Therapy 20(1):p 66-80, Spring 2008. | DOI: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e31815f1208

Photo credit: Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Ursula the Roly Poly Unicorn: A Yoga-For-Kids Adventure about Self-Esteem and Loving Yourself Just as You Are

Out now, the Yoga-for-Kids Adventure storybook, Ursula the Roly Poly Unicorn, is intended to help children with self-esteem and loving themselves just as they are. Useful for teachers of kids’ yoga. Available: paperback, hardback and Kindle. Also, available: Kids’ Yoga Teacher pack with extra poses, ideas, and resources.