Yoga at School
It is undeniable that kids have stress in their lives and one of the most stressful places they spend a lot of time in, is school. The endlessly increasing spirit of competition and achievement, the social anxiety, busy schedules and very stressed out role models (Such as teachers and parents) make some children’s lives a constant struggle.
Schools are supposed to be an environment that support children in their growth and study, but it is long proven that stress is a factor that inhibits this development.
We learn many things in school, mainly so called “facts”, but we don’t receive many tools that will help us live a better life. Here are a few of the most important things that can support and enhance our lives, which are absent in most schools curriculum:
- How to be happy
- How to manage emotions
- How to communicate in a positive way
- How to keep our body healthy
- How to feel connected to ourselves and be respectful of our bodies
- How to increase our self-esteem
- How to develop self-control, rather than how to be controlled better by adults
- How to concentrate
- How to relax and find some peace of mind
- How to be creative and how to think independently
- In fact, we don’t even learn how to study in school
Yoga offers tools to absorb these skills, skills that can create a healthier and better adapted future generation.
The competitive and goal oriented nature of most schools creates social phobias, exam anxiety and even insomnia. The non competitive spirit of yoga and the focus on self, well being and being in an healthy environment can help cure some of the negative effects of the current dominating school system.
Kids suffer in schools not just from mental stress but also from physical tension. They sit still for long hours in awkward positions and carry heavy bags. This creates a lot of employment for paediatricians and osteopaths. When kids are bent over their desks they find it hard to concentrate, breathe properly, and even stay awake – you should try it and see! Small changes in the way kids sit and breathe can make a big difference in their ability to stay focused and learn.
Schools curriculum were created by people who forgot how it was to be kids and include expectations that cannot be fulfilled even by most adults. For example can you sit for 5 or more hours a day and listen to someone lecturing to you without moving and fidgeting? A couple of stretches and a few deep breaths every few minutes can help greatly in keeping the kids attention throughout a class.
It is also important to remember that kids learn through example and that having stressed out teachers will only create stressed children even if they are screamed at one hundred times a day to relax! Sometimes the best way to learn is to teach. So, maybe if we could give school teachers some yoga tools to sprinkle in their classroom throughout the day we will also have better role models for the kids to look up to and imitate. And of course, you can also offer weekly adult yoga classes for the school teachers.
Yoga also provides a way to learn through movement, breathing and imagining. Kids are not all the same, and although many of them are auditory learners and do well at school, many of them learn better through moving, creating and visualising.
Many of the tools we learn in yoga can be adapted to the classroom setting, where we can’t move the tables and chairs or put down our yoga mats on the floor. Even sitting on a chair we can:
- Stretch and do yoga poses
- Use guided imagery and relax
- And positively interact with our neighbours
Some schools do not have the space or the budget to have weekly yoga classes, and even in places that do have regular yoga sessions the benefits of yoga can penetrate much more deeply and be greatly enhanced if they become a part of the students’ daily routine in the classroom.
Yoga can give us the tools to be better prepared for studying for an exam, and even for life.
There are not many spaces in life now, where kids get a chance to relax, to look inward and explore what they are really feeling and who they really are. Maybe it is in part the atmosphere of a classroom that creates a culture that is so stressed, and perhaps yoga can help.
BY GOPALA AMIR YAFFA
Rainbow Yoga Founder