For some people, Yoga and Mindfulness are synonymous. However, one can practise mindfulness without doing Yoga. But, Yoga can add a different dimension to your mindfulness practice.
UK expert in social and emotional learning, Professor Katherine Weare (key contributor to the UK schools SEAL programme), stated in The Mindfulness In Schools Project paper in association with the University of Exeter, “Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People”, that:
“Well conducted mindfulness interventions can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of young people who take part.” “Mindfulness can contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function. It can help young people pay greater attention, be more focused, think in more innovative ways, use existing knowledge more effectively, improve working memory, and enhance planning, problem solving, and reasoning skills.”
Yoga helps children to slow down, chill out, relax their minds and exercise their bodies. It also lowers their heart rate, and creates self-discipline and control. In Yoga, they practise self-regulation of breathing that is a natural relaxation response in humans.
You don’t have to be a Yoga master to include Yoga into the day. All you need to know is the basic Yoga poses which can easily be found free on Youtube. But, other good resources are:
- Yoga Pretzel cards– These can be bought online. Just do an online search and find the best deal. This includes cards that show breathing techniques, games, Yoga poses and relaxation techniques.
The cards show the pose/technique/game on one side and an explanation of how to do it on the other side.
- Yoga 4 Classrooms card deck- These can be bought online http://www.yoga4classrooms.com/activity-card-deck) and are similar to Yoga Pretzels.
- Free printable poster of the Sun Salutation here: http://childrensyogacenter.com/FreePrintables/FullSunSalutation.pdf)
- Free Printable Yoga Alphabet- http://www.youngyogamasters.com/2014/05/28/yoga-alphabet-printable/
- Free Printable Yoga Poses to Colour: http://www.handipoints.com/coloring-pages/fun-facts/yoga-moves
- Free Printable sheet with the basic Yoga poses: Yoga Poses That Support Mindfulness WP
- Free Printable poster and explanation- Calm Down Yoga For Kids: http://childhood101.com/2015/04/yoga-for-kids/
How can you integrate Yoga into the school day?
- Start each day doing the Sun Salutation in class.
- Use Yoga as part of your warm up or cool down sessions in PE.
- Teach one Yoga pose a week and use it as part of your transition routine (When they come to the carpet for a lesson or a story, they have to do the pose of the week.).
- Have a special signal, possibly the mindful bell, which is used when the children get a bit squirmy. When that signal is given, they stand up, breathe deeply, do the Yoga pose for a set amount of time and then they sit, breathe deeply and get back to work.
- Play Yoga games- Once the children learn a few, encourage them to do them outside during break time/recess.
- “Yogi Says”- Similar to “Simon Says”
- Body Part Yoga- Choose a leader and they give the rest of the group two body parts they can use and only those two body parts can touch the ground. (Example: One knee, one hand)
Remember, the best things are usually the simplest things! Have your children create their own Yoga routines, poses and games.
You just must remember that the key is on concentrating on the breathing and the task at hand. Focus is the key to supporting the use of Yoga in mindfulness.
How do you use Yoga in the classroom?