Many of us may remember as children the challenge it was at times to focus at school, or have watched our children as they sit at a desk and fidget while trying to learn. Focusing ones attention for long periods of time can be challenging for many and the expectation to sit in a classroom environment with focused attention for extended periods of times can be very demanding for many children. The practice of yoga enables students to focus for longer periods of times while gaining control over their mind, body and spirit as they channel their energy towards learning. The addition of yoga classes in schools has been gaining momentum. Some schools are choosing to offer yoga during physical activity classes, as after school activities, or as mini-breaks throughout the day as a way to recharge and revitalize after spending many hours sitting at a desk. The benefits of yoga are endless and below are excerpts from the Study of the Yoga Ed Program at the Accelerated School, conducted by Program Evaluation and Research Collaboratives (PERC) by the Charter College of Education in Los Angeles, California. This research study has been able to confirm the following:
- Students who had high participation rates in yoga class had fewer discipline issues.
- Yoga participation assisted in improving student’s physical health.
- Consistent yoga participation correlated with positive grades and academic participation.
- Students overall views of themselves increased and negative self perceptions decreased with yoga participation.
Here are some ways you may incorporate yoga in the classroom, or at home as a quick homework break and de-stressor.
- Tense & Relax
Sitting in your chair, place both feet on the floor and sit up tall. Take a deep breath in and squeeze your whole body from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, including down to your fingertips. Feel your cheeks tighten, your hands and your toes. Hold your breath as you squeeze for a few seconds. As you begin to exhale release all the tension as your head, arms, torso, legs and feet turn to jello. Repeat a few more times.
- Seated Twist- Let’s wring out any negative thoughts and energy!
Sit tall in your chair with both feet flat on the ground. Place your right hand on your left thigh, right hand rests behind you. Look over your left shoulder as you twist from your belly button. Each inhalation grow a little taller and each exhalation continue to twist as you look over the left shoulder. Repeat on the other side. Twisting cleanses our internal organs in a similar manner as to wringing a dish cloth out of its excess water.
- Seated Half Moon – Stimulate your nervous system, rejuvenate spinal discs & energize arms, shoulders and torso.
Sit tall in your chair with both feet flat on the ground. Inhale and raise your hands up over head, clasping your hands together. As you exhale stretch to the left, keeping both sits bones (your bum!) on the chair. Feel your left ribs and hip move closer together as your right ribs and hip grow apart. Take 3-5 deep breaths. Inhale your arms back to centre. As you exhale stretch to the right, once again keeping both sits bones on the chair. Feel your right ribs and hips move closer together as your left ribs and hip grow apart. Take 3-5 deep breaths. Inhale back to the centre and exhale your arms back down to your side. Remember to take time out during the school day, invite students to move their body, free their mind and allow their spirit to soar. Celebrate the joys of yoga even while sitting! Namaste, Amanda