Last week, my daughter and I were watching the gymnastics at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
I was explaining to her why Simone Biles, one of the greatest athletes in the world, decided to pull out of the US team finals. She realized that her mental health was at risk. She didn’t trust her mind and body and was concerned about getting injured.
We heard from the presenter that Simone Biles was likely experiencing the “twisties,” which are caused by stress and anxiety. My daughter and I talked about the courage it must have taken Simone to make that split-second decision after years of practicing for that moment and not wanting to let her team down.
But Simone Biles put her mental health first.
And the world got to see an incredible woman make an impossible decision in front of the world’s stage. This led to several athletes opening up about the impact of stress and pressure for them, as well—and that mental health needs to be taking seriously.
To be able to have that conversation with my daughter, who is on the spectrum, right there in a safe place was a gift. Simone Biles gave us a platform to speak about mental health in a concrete, meaningful way. She helped me plant a seed… and seeds blossom…
After our conversation, I then thought about all the children going back to school shortly.
The CDC has announced that masks are recommended for all staff, teachers, and students indoors at school—which has again sparked heated debate in some places. And we’ve been speaking to our friends and family in Australia, who are currently in lockdown.
This pandemic isn’t over yet. And the mental health of our children is still in the forefront of our minds.
Many of you have joined this community because you have also heard about the scientific research or seen the benefits firsthand that yoga and mindfulness can have tremendously positive effects on the health and well-being of children.
By practicing even the simplest of techniques, like learning to take deep breaths, has had a profound impact on children everywhere. It doesn’t have to be complicated to make a difference.
So, as our first-ever virtual five-week School Yoga Bootcamp comes to a close, I thought it might be helpful to share three top takeaways that came up over and over again during the event.
Three Top Tips for School Yoga:
1. Begins with YOU
This is the most crucial part of introducing yoga and mindfulness to children—it absolutely must start with you and your practice.
Spend some time exploring the various practices yourself (breathing techniques, physical postures, meditation, mindfulness, karma yoga, and character education) to discover which practices you love the best. That way, your enthusiasm will come through when you share with children. And you’ll find your own voice and passion, as well.
For example, Cassandra, one of our School Yoga Bootcampers, has studied mindfulness personally for years to help with her own wellness journey and as a result, started her own Mindfulness Club at her school. Her program has become a welcome safe haven for many at-risk children.
What to ponder: Get clear on which yoga and mindfulness practices light you up and you think will have the biggest benefits to your school community. To dive deeper, you could check out our free course, “How to Get Started Teaching Yoga to Children.”
2. Connect to your WHY
We’ve heard from many of you that a whole list of obstacles can get in the way of starting a school yoga program, including when to schedule yoga, how to get buy-in, and how to engage your students.
If you connect with your “why,” your underlying purpose for sharing yoga with children, it’ll give you the courage and grit to bust through any obstacle that comes your way.
For example, Helsa, one of the School Yoga Bootcampers, is driven by her mission to address the research showing that suicide rates for black children were roughly two times higher than white children.
So when Helsa needs to figure out funding and how to approach the leadership team, she is going to be unstoppable in the face of any obstacle by connecting to her deep desire to make a difference in the lives of the children in her community.
What to ponder: Spend some time getting clear on your “why”—your deep purpose of how you want to make a difference and transform the lives of the people in your school community through yoga and mindfulness. Write down your “why” on a Post-It Note and keep it in plain view as a reminder.
3. Start SIMPLE
We may have grandiose plans that we hope to bring yoga and mindfulness to our whole school, city, or even country. That can be overwhelming and may stop us in our tracks before we even begin.
Another thing that came up time and time again when the participants shared their biggest takeaways during the School Yoga Bootcamp was that we need to start simple, take it step-by-step, and build as we go. We also know that your school yoga program doesn’t have to be perfect right away, but it’s more important that you begin, that you get it going.
For example, one of the participants of the bootcamp, Amy, wrote a step-by-step outline of her school yoga ideas, knowing that she needed to start one project at a time.
First, she’s going to present yoga and mindfulness to her school colleagues at a back-to-school “self-care” workshop. Then, she’s going to introduce yoga to the students in her small-group counseling sessions. Next, she’s going to create a Yoga Club at recess and then an After School Yoga Club. And she also wanted to share Mindful Moments on the morning announcements.
You can see that Amy is passionate and has lots of ideas, and you may be in the same boat. But we need to remind ourselves to start simple, one step at a time.
After each initiative, it’s also important to reflect, evaluate, and see what could be improved on our quest of addressing the mental health and physical well-being of our young people.
What to ponder: You could take time to brainstorm or journal all your potential school yoga program ideas. And then pick just one idea first. Start there. Break it into small chunks and take small incremental steps forward towards your goal.
What about you?
Are you looking to bring yoga to children in the coming months or school year?
What can you take away from these three tips?
- Begins with YOU.
- Connect to your WHY.
- Start SIMPLE.
And in words of Simone Biles, who says that “Mental health is more important than medals.”
Similarly, we’ve heard many of you say that the mental health and well-being of your children is more important than academics and test results. And we all know that children aren’t ready to learn if they aren’t regulated.
We can do this, together. One child at a time.
We send our thoughts to you and your communities around the world. May this school year further bring forth the awareness of mental health and effective strategies to look after one other in a caring, heartfelt way as we move forward together as a global community.
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Ready to Bring Yoga & Mindfulness to Your School or Classroom this Year?
…But you just don’t know where to start?
Do you want to bring yoga and mindfulness to your school but you’re completely perplexed on how exactly to do that?
We hear this all the time from our community.
You know the value of yoga and mindfulness… but find it challenging to convey all the benefits in a meaningful way to your school community.
Even if parents and the administration are on board and you have the green light to launch a program… where do you even start?
Time is tight, resources are limited, and getting buy-in from children (and even parents, admin, and peers) can be challenging.
Let us help you take away the overwhelm and confusion, and provide a solid framework for you to create a fully customized plan for your school…
… a plan you can easily tailor to your needs, your students, and your school, so you feel confident bringing these valuable and life-changing practices to your students.
No two schools are alike.
Every school has its challenges and culture, needs and limitations. Only YOU know what these are. Taking a done-for-you, “boxed” yoga and mindfulness program may seem like a good approach (we all want something simple, right?), but these programs are rarely a great fit. And oftentimes, they’re not suitable for the specific needs of a classroom or school.
Your students are unique and you need a program tailored to them!
CHECK OUT CLASSROOM YOGA IN 10 MINUTES A DAY
This digital yoga and mindfulness workbook is a wonderful resource to easily integrate these much-needed practices into your classroom – whether it’s in-person, virtually, or a hybrid of both. And, to do so within just 10 minutes a day!
The ready-to-use workbook contain everything you need to do yoga in just 10 minutes a day for 16 weeks of the school year. It’s super easy to use. Just download, print, and play! And if you’re teaching virtually, you can easily share it online with your students and families!
“I used week 1 postures with my p1 class (age 5) this afternoon & they were fab, they loved it. Thank you for such a well planned resource, everything in the one place. ” – Annie S
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