It has been known for thousands of years that a regular practice of yoga and meditation techniques will have numerous benefits for the body and mind. It is no surprise that some researchers are starting to discover that incorporating yoga and meditation into a student’s daily schedule can improve cognitive function and reduce stress. This can result in improved concentration, focus, and subsequently, improve one’s school grades.
Stress is indeed a big part of school life, whether you are a child or a college student. Too much stress can have negative effects on attention and memory. Students don’t do well on tests if they are constantly anxious about so many aspects of school. Allowing students to stretch their bodies with asanas (yoga poses) during the course of the day, while utilizing breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation can create not only higher achieving students, but calmer, more polite, and less aggressive ones.
In 2010-2011, a yoga pilot program was started at Cass Street School in Milwaukee by Susan Solvang, the executive director of K-12 Yoga. The instructors guided K-8 students through mindfulness meditation and some basic yoga training twice a week for a school year. The results were amazing; when comparing the numbers of classrooms disruptions, disorderly conducts, and fights from the pilot year to the year before, the numbers were cut in half.
Other schools in Essex, England, report similar findings when they began testing these methods with primary school students. By teaching visualization techniques and yoga asanas, children in these studies seemed more self-aware and less anxious. Their behavior, concentration, and grades improved.
Adults can benefit from this, too. Researchers at George Mason University on students in a psychology class conducted a recent study. Some of them were taught meditation techniques before lectures. The others were instructed to do nothing. They were then given a quiz. The students who had meditated beforehand scored better than the students who were not taught the techniques.
Yoga is something that millions of practitioners have practiced throughout history to find tranquility, balance, focus, and clarity. It is understandable that the calming poses and mindfulness meditation can create a more intelligent and mentally sharp individual. It is fair to say that incorporating any sort of fitness and relaxation techniques or breathing exercises into a school curriculum will have major benefits to anyone of any age.
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