Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Many Benefits Of Yoga For Children In Schools

Most school teachers these days may not even be aware of the proven benefits of yoga in the classroom. Yoga for children in schools has been a godsend for some teachers who have decided they need a new way to help kids get calm, focused, and ready to learn--not to mention teach them the importance of proper breathing and physical exercise. As a public school teacher myself, I have taught grades 3-6, and all four of these grade levels absolutely love the times set aside for yoga in the classroom. We don't get too involved in in-depth routines and poses, but rather, just some simple breathing techniques and energizing movements and stances.

Yoga helps me to guide my students in a number of ways--it decreases hyperactivity, lowers test-time anxiety, helps students regain focus, supports a healthy lifestyle, builds character and confidence, and last but not least, supports a readiness and willingness to learn. I have no doubt in my mind that many teachers would welcome all of these things in their classrooms, not only to facilitate the learning process, but to aid in the teaching process as well. I don't just do yoga in the classroom for my kids--I do it for me, as well. In my personal yoga practice, I've experienced a calmness of mind and spirit, a sense of harmony with my universe, and of course, an increase in flexibility and endurance. Knowing that I am passing these things along to my kids is gratifying in so many ways.

Each day, when the time is right at school, I ask the students to stand up by their desks, straighten their spines, and bring one leg up so that their foot is resting on their other thigh. "This is your graceful tree pose," I tell them. "Now raise your arms high into the air--these are your branches swaying in the breeze." After a few moments, I have then repeat the pose using their other leg. Usually after we've done this a couple of times, they are calm, focused, and poised for learning. This particular activity is perfect for those times after lunch and recess when it's most difficult to get students calmed down and regain their attention.

It is so important for me and for my students that we do a little yoga in the classroom every single day, which is why, when I know I'm going to be out, I leave a kids yoga dvd for the sub, so the students aren't missing out. It's unfortunate that, for many kids, the only physical activity they get is at school. Many parents let their kids rot in front of the television or computer, without even encouraging them to get outside to run around and play. I feel like it's my job to allow time for yoga for children--that way, in addition to their PE classes and recess time, they're getting the opportunity to learn about different styles of exercise. My only hope is that they will love these practices enough to continue to cultivate them as they grow older.

By: David Tang

Article Directory: