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The benefits of yoga in schools

With the ever-increasing demands on children, the pressures of the curriculum and social media influences – and now the current pandemic – yoga is increasingly being requested by schools.

The government is proposing launching a mental health worker programme in every school as part of its Mentally Healthy Schools, such is the need for wellbeing support.

Yoga and mindfulness are proven ways to assist young people’s mental health and wellbeing. They have been shown to improve both physical and mental health in school-age children. A growing body of research suggests yoga can improve focus, memory and self-esteem. It can also improve academic performance and classroom behaviour, as well as reduce anxiety and stress.

Since the launch of YogaPebbles nearly four-years-ago, I have been very lucky to deliver yoga in schools for both children and staff. It has become one of the highlights of my week.

I deliver yoga sessions as part of the curriculum and as after-school and lunch clubs, and I’m fortunate to be working with some very-forward thinking head teachers in Northamptonshire, who can really see the benefits of a weekly yoga class.

As part of my commitment to yoga in schools and my thirst for knowledge and learning, I am also embarking on a Mental Health and Wellbeing course. I hope this will keep me up-to-date with the latest developments in this area.

So how can yoga be brought to your school?

What would yoga and mindfulness look like if you are a headteacher, PSCHE or wellbeing co-ordinator, or indeed a parent…

Some options could be:

  • Weekly yoga classes. These would run as part of the school day i.e. one year group each week for a half term. This is my long-term goal: yoga in every school as part of the National Curriculum!
  • Blocks of yoga sessions in preparation for tests or exams. Or, to support Year Six in the summer term, in readiness for transition to secondary school.
  • Lunchtime yoga clubs. Not all children enjoy being outside at break times, and some seek calm and stillness to recharge ready for afternoon learning.
  • Breakfast club or after school yoga. A perfect way to start and end the day.
  • Wellbeing Yoga Days. These could run as part of Healthy Schools Week or events. A yoga session for every class in the school across one day.
  • Classroom chair-based yoga. I have been known to teach yoga in school libraries – and even in cupboards! A classroom yoga session on chairs is perfectly accessible, and you don’t necessarily need a large hall and lots of yoga mats.
  • Training and INSET days. Teaching the teachers on how to deliver yoga and mindfulness in the classroom setting.
  • Staff yoga. If the staff are relaxed, the children will be too! This could be a morning session or after school. I like to call them brain and body breaks.

Why YogaPebbles in schools?

  • Yoga in inter-curricular! In a YogaPebbles’ session I cover many areas of the Curriculum, such as: PSCHE, communication skills, literacy, physical development, creative arts, maths, science, geography and history.
  • I teach children how to appreciate, care for, learn about and love their bodies.
  • Yoga is for everybody and every body! I teach children to co-operate and include everyone, celebrating diversity and equality.
  • I aim to bring a love of yoga to children and families through classes that incorporate yoga postures, songs, stories, rhymes, themes, emotional development and creativity.
  • I aim to allow time for personal reflection.
  • I instil a sense of achievement and pride without competition.
  • I encourage the children to celebrate being part of a fully inclusive community, all practicing together.

The Children’s Yoga Foundation and the Teen Yoga Foundation work tirelessly to bring more awareness to the benefits of a school-based yoga practice. They’re busy setting up a bank of teachers across the UK that schools can request to deliver their sessions. I am proud to have links with both, having delivered a workshop on yoga for SEN back in November at their Instill Conference, and I will continue to support them.

To read more about the benefits of yoga in schools, check out this article.

If you would like to see YogaPebbles in your child’s school, college or after school club please contact me.

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