As a big fan of yoga, I do it most days and teach adults twice a week, I strongly advocate bringing yoga into our public schools. There are programs already, but not enough. Check out Yoga Journal for a great story about some yoga programs for schools. Why do yoga and kids go together?
- Relaxation Techniques. When I was a teacher I remember my frustration when smart kids did poorly on tests. I knew they knew the material, I knew they were capable, but they couldn’t perform under pressure. Yoga can teach children ways to calm down their minds and their bodies when it is necessary. They can use those skills when taking high stakes tests, a more and more common occurrence, and then apply those techniques to situations outside of school.
- Exercise. Yoga should be included in the physical education curriculum. With the much discussed obesity epidemic, yoga can help children by giving them skills to practice at home. Yoga is an individual practice that requires little to no props. A yoga mat is nice, but not necessary. Teaching children sun salutations and basic poses gives them life-long skills for exercising at home in a way that will make them stronger, build endurance, and promote flexibility.
- Focus and Concentration. School is a busy and social place. Yoga can help children learn to tune out the noises and distractions around them and focus inwardly and with intent. Teaching children concentration tips will help in testing situations and during stressful times. This is a life skill that can be used with frequency in any school.
Of course, yoga is often a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, healthy living, and healthy thinking. Serving fresh, natural, and healthy foods in the schools, promoting mental health and stability, and supporting the entire family are just as important, if not more. We need to look at our schools as a place to promote our best selves. I think yoga is one part of that ultimate goal.
Yoga books for Kids
- Yoga for Children, Lisa Flynn
- Barbar’s Yoga for Elephants, Laurent de Brunhoff
- Storytime Yoga, Sidney Solis
- Yoga for Children, Mary Steward
- The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story, Uma Krishmaswami and Ruth Jeyaveeran
Yoga is a life skill. Children who learn yoga can practice it for the rest of their life. They can use it to build strength and flexibility in the mind, body, and spirit. There are concerns about the religious aspect of yoga. Many people do swear by the spiritual benefits of yoga but many more use it without religious intent. Taking out religious language and focusing on breathing, stretching, strengthening, and concentrating creates a stronger child and a stronger school.