By Gopi Rao
The fast-pace of our current society takes a large toll on both students and teachers in the public and private school classroom. There is a lot or pressure on students to perform well and consistently according to state and nationally-mandated curriculum guidelines even if a student needs complementary academic enrichment in order to really grasp the subject matter on which he or she is being tested. This external academic pressure can create a substantial amount of stress and tension in the classroom, both for the students and for the teachers who are preparing the students for various levels of examinations.
Incorporating the practice of Yoga in the classroom can help to alleviate stress and boost the students’ physical and mental health. Even a short break of twenty minutes of Yogic exercise will help to undo some of the tension and over-intellectualism of our current educational system. The practice of postures, breathing exercises and meditation techniques, in addition to an understanding of respectful communication and teamwork based on positive thinking, all help to create an atmosphere of fun, health, creativity and exploration in the classroom. Yogic methodology has been shown to help balance emotions, increase physical health, raise self-esteem and enhance the ability of students to focus and complete important educational tasks. Practicing Yoga as a class will also help to bond the students together and create a positive classroom environment.
In the lower grades, incorporating the practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation into the classroom should take into account the developmental age of the children. If you are introducing Yoga to children under the age of eight or nine, the Yoga session will be more enjoyable for the children if it is entertaining and fun. Introducing Yogic poses through a creative story where the children act out the different characters with their bodies is an great, integrated way to have the students enjoy the benefits of Yoga while they are playing and using their imaginations. You can also introduce Yoga poses to young children by introducing the poses with familiar animal names such as the monkey, cat stretch, downward facing dog and dolphin pose. At the end of the practice, you may wish to introduce a brief period of meditation of two to five minutes in order to give the children a few minutes to practice dharana and to rest in their own inner stillness.
If you are introducing Yogic techniques to students who are in middle school, high school or college, the Yoga training session may be longer and more formal. If you have the time, a class of thirty minutes or longer will really allow older students to engage in the practice and reap the many benefits it offers. Pre-adolescents and adolescents will enjoy a more structured and challenging Yoga asana session. They will also enjoy engaging in other Yogic practices such as service projects in their community. Additionally, older students will be able to sit for longer periods of meditation, possibly for ten or fifteen minutes, which will give them a chance to really slow down and pause during their busy school days. Instituting a period of rest and relaxation at the end of your Yoga class will help the students to learn to honor a healthy balance of activity and rest during the day and in the rest of their lives.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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