Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kids' Yoga for Balanced Education


By Faye Martins

Yoga teachers are always searching for ways to help students’ focus, learn, and engage with academic materials. At the same time, many school teachers become frustrated when the students, "just won't listen," or "can't understand the concepts." Yoga can be a powerful tool for teachers to help students regain their focus throughout the school day. While many teachers are probably skeptical, they might be surprised at the results. Yoga can help students focus on projects, concentrate on new information, and cope with the stresses of learning.

Studies on brain-based learning indicate that learning is a physiological process, involving the entire mind and body. In order for the brain to be functioning at its greatest potential, the body's emotions must be in check and other physiological needs must be met. If you've ever tried to learn something new on an empty stomach, you know the feeling of not being able to concentrate because all you can think about is food. Similarly, students who feel anxious, stressed, unsafe, or bored will not be able to learn.

Yoga gives kids the necessary tools to get rid of any stress, anxiety, or "cloudiness" in the brain. Yoga can be a powerful tool for students and teachers to use during short breaks throughout the day to refresh and re-energize the body and mind. Yoga is convenient because it doesn't require any equipment or a lot of space. Students can stand, sit, or even lie on the floor of the classroom. They can breathe deeply, visualize desired outcomes, or stretch for a physical release of pent-up energy or emotions.

Many schools are finding that yoga is beneficial to students in several ways. Studies have shown that students who practice yoga throughout the school day exhibit more positive attitudes toward life and school, show improved grades and test scores, and can cope with day-to-day stresses and conflicts better. By adding a yoga component to the curriculum, schools will be ensuring a well-rounded education for students. While academics are by far the most important element of children's education, we now know that it can't be separated from emotional and physical well-being.

Yoga in schools teaches kids to be responsible for their own actions and emotions. Yoga promotes self-awareness and the idea that we can control emotions by focusing on the positive aspects of any situation, or by using simple techniques to get rid of stress. It will help kids find peace within them, which can result in motivated, smart, well-adjusted kids ready to face the world.

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