In today’s fast-paced world, stress levels are soaring, especially amongst the younger generation. Young adults are reportedly more stressed than any other generation, with an average stress level of 5.4 out of 10 among 18 to 33-year-olds. This stress often trickles down to their children, and with high levels of stress becoming the norm in younger households, it is crucial to instill positive coping mechanisms. This article explores the concept of integrating yoga in education as a stress relief technique and a tool for improving self-regulation.
Yoga in Schools: A Glimpse
Introducing a daily yoga practice in classrooms has been observed to offer specific benefits in school settings, such as reducing stress and counteracting bullying behaviors. Yoga can help students respond better to stressful situations by teaching them mindfulness and stress reduction techniques.
As we delve deeper into the benefits of integrating yoga in schools, let’s also look at some science-based exercises that can enhance the wellbeing of your students. You can download these three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.
Why Yoga in Schools? 6 Key Benefits
Daily yoga practice in school can lead to improved mental, social, and physical wellbeing, minimizing self-destructive behaviors in the classroom and reducing stress among students. Here are six key benefits of daily yoga practice:
- Improved concentration and memory: Yoga can increase focus, thereby improving concentration, memory, and academic performance.
- Respect for peers and others: Yoga can facilitate respect for others, as it encourages awareness of one’s surroundings.
- Self-regulation: Yoga can help children manage their emotions and implement strategies to regulate them.
- Self-confidence: Yoga can boost a child’s ability to remain calm, thereby increasing self-confidence.
- Feeling of wellbeing: Yoga can enhance a child’s self-confidence and ability to self-regulate, leading to higher levels of general wellbeing.
- Physical fitness: Yoga can improve posture and muscular control, contributing to physical fitness.
Children’s Mental Health and Yoga: Insights from Research
Several research studies have highlighted the benefits of yoga in improving mental and physical health. Specific improvements significant to classroom settings include improved outcomes in behavior, stress reduction, and emotional balance. For instance, Butzer et al. (2015) reported improvements in second- and third-graders’ behavior, specifically in attention span and the ability to focus on work and stay on task. They also noted improvements in social-emotional learning.
Creating Yoga Programs and Lesson Plans
Integrating yoga in the classroom can be overwhelming for teachers. However, by planning lessons carefully and incorporating yoga practices that are relevant to the pace and students’ ability to engage fully in the practice, teachers can successfully integrate yoga into their classrooms.
Our My Feelings My Body worksheet is an excellent starting point in helping children identify the sensations in their body and how they are reacting to them.
How to Teach Yoga to Children in Schools
If you are interested in integrating yoga into your daily classroom activities but need help to get started, here are some tips:
- Create a space and choose a consistent time to practice
- Plan your lessons with intention
- Integrate opportunities for relationship and community building among peers
- Use resources such as books, online courses, activities, and exercises
Which Yoga is Best for Mental Health?
Of all types of yoga, hatha yoga has been proven to have the most significant impact on reducing anxiety and stress. It improves chronic fatigue, general self-esteem, general wellbeing, and quality of life. Hatha yoga focuses on simple positions with lots of time for breathing and meditation, making it the easiest type to integrate into different settings.
When practicing hatha yoga with children, consider incorporating non-movement-based strategies such as chanting, mental body scans, storytelling, and brief meditation.
7 Activities, Poses, and Exercises for Integrating Yoga in the Classroom
When integrating yoga in the classroom, consider introducing a “be well” discussion every morning after all the students arrive. Teachers can choose a central theme for the discussion that focuses on daily routines that help improve health.
Additionally, here are five simple poses for students’ yoga practice:
- Mountain pose
- Tree pose
- Warrior pose
- Cat/Cow pose
- Child’s pose
Teacher Trainings in Yoga for Children
With a growing number of yoga training options for teachers, it’s important to choose the right program that suits your classroom. Consider factors such as the style of yoga, its suitability to your age group, and its formal accreditation.
Incorporating yoga in education can have transformative effects on students’ stress levels and self-regulation abilities. By integrating this practice into the classroom, teachers can equip their students with the tools they need to cope with stress and improve their overall wellbeing. It’s a practice that can foster a healthy, active lifestyle and promote a positive learning environment. As we continue to navigate the complexities of the modern world, yoga in education may just be the key to creating resilient, well-rounded students ready to take on the world.