Yoga in Schools Helps Kids Learn

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Kids are in school to learn, right? In theory... yes.  Children want to learn. Teachers want to teach. But too often, the theoretic formula of, "go to school + work hard = successful student" does not add up.  Yoga in Schools can help bridge this gap.  Yoga in schools helps kids learn.

When you give something your undivided attention - you are fully present and far more likely to absorb the experience.  The problem is, how often do we give something our undivided attention?!  We're constantly battling all kinds of internal and external distractions.  People and events around us are unpredictable and uncontrollable; and our own feelings, thoughts, and emotions arise at the most inconvenient times - taking our focus away from the task at hand.  My brain is in constant motion - that driver didn't put their blinker on, I wonder where she got her shoes,  I'm tired, I have to go grocery shopping, I'm hungry, I forgot to let the dog out, did I lock the door? did I even shut the door?  These thoughts happen while I'm driving, while I'm with my kids, while I'm 'sleeping', while I'm cooking, all. the. time.  I'm an adult who has a fully developed brain and years of training in mindfulness - and I still struggle to stay on task.  All minds wander - including (and especially) kids minds' - are my friends talking about me, what am I doing after school today, I'm hungry, I can't wait for recess, I hate recess, I forgot we have a test after lunch, what is for lunch?  We have to teach kids (and ourselves)  to mindfully notice, observe, and be aware of when we are stuck in the past or worried about the future.  Mindfulness brings you to the present moment.  When kids are present, they are more likely to learn.  

Kids Yoga is effective because kids learn by moving - by DOING.  How a person learns is as unique as their fingerprint. Each student comes to school with their own set of background knowledge, unique strengths, and varied interests.  Sitting at a desk, listening, and working independently does not reach all learners.  Considering an approach in line with Universal Design for Learning - yoga reaches ALL learning styles.  Students can share about their weekend trip to the zoo with a yoga adventure; they can learn to retell a story by creating a yoga sequence; they can learn geometry by noticing shapes in their bodies; and the lessons in science, health, wellness, and social skills are imbedded in every second of yoga.  The connection to nature, animals, and the world are full of ease, curiosity, and excitement.  Kids can follow yoga verbally, visually, AND kinesthetically.  Every body can do it and there's no way to do it wrong.  Participating fully in a yoga class, with their body, brain, and breath creates an experience - a memory that lasts longer than a lesson.  "Kids may not remember what they said. They will always remember how you made them feel"

Last, but not least, yoga in schools teaches kids YOGA!  Kids yoga classes teach students about the union of their body (poses), brain (mindfulness), and breath (coping and calming strategies).  Schools are reporting a notable decrease in social/emotional skills, self-awareness, self-esteem, self-confidence, and ability to self-regulate.  These reports are in correlation (or maybe causation) with an increase in anxiety, depression, diagnoses, behavior, and bullying.   Kids yoga skillfully and mindfully teaches all students how to build strength, flexibility, and balance while still being fun, playful, and developmentally appropriate.  (And to be clear - building strength, flexibility, and balance is in their body, brain, AND heart).  These are all invaluable techniques when thinking about kids in life today.  By learning about themselves, yoga naturally informs the whole child - the whole self - esteem, confidence, regulation, compassion.   

Breathe and Play Kids Yoga can be a stand alone curriculum or a wonderful compliment to other health, wellness, social/emotional, and academic curricula.  The results are clear and many - yoga in schools helps kids learn.

 

Find out more about Yoga in Schools - your students will learn more than you ever imagined.

Sessions. Love them AND hate them. Here's why you should take the leap.

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My kids are three and one. Their moods are unpredictable, we're crazy busy, (or maybe just crazy) and getting both kids out of the house in any kind of orderly or timely fashion is absolutely impossible. So, I totally get it when you hear 'sessions' and you cringe, roll your eyes, or click to a different site. There are a million things going on in your life and a billion things going on in your head - asking you to commit to a session might feel intimidating. But hear me out - it might be worth taking the leap.

Sessions build community

Much of Breathe and Play's mission is based on building community. We want to be your home away from home. We want your entire family to feel comfortable and to have a safe space to come and be together, getting to know yourself and your kids a little more along the way.  When you go somewhere for the first time, how comfortable do you feel? When you go somewhere once in a while, how comfortable do you feel? When you go to the same place often and see the same people often, how comfortable do you feel? When we are comfortable, we feel safe. When we feel safe, we THRIVE.  Most adults WANT to feel comfortable and safe... but kids NEED to feel comfortable and safe in order to thrive.  Living in an unpredictable world where so much is out of their control, providing a little bit of routine and familiarity can go a long way. Allow yoga to be their safety. their comfort. their place to thrive. Maybe the kids form friendships.  Maybe they never say two words to each other. But they will know what to expect when they show up. 

Sessions build knowledge.

A session of classes allows me to plan lessons that build off of each other for multi-layered learning.  By enrolling in a session, your child is able to build on their knowledge and skill set each week.  Attending an entire session means they learn more poses, more breathing techniques, and more calming and coping strategies.  Beyond the 'quantity' of yoga they're learning, it's actually so much more about quality.  They are able to delve into a deeper level of yoga. If they come to one class and quickly fall out of a balance pose, they usually don't feel awesome. But when they come back week after week and learn that with practice, they can all of a sudden balance that entire wiggly body on one foot for minutes at a time - wow. That's powerful.  See, yoga isn't just an activity to keep them busy while you have a cup of tea (although that's a nice upside). Enrolling your child in a session of yoga means they will walk away with knowledge and skills that they can apply to their daily life

Sessions build generalization.

Consistency is the only way to generalize a skill.  Kids yoga is fun and playful and fantastic, but the reason I teach it is because Kids Yoga is EFFECTIVE. It teaches the difference between loud and quiet, happy and sad, calm and chaos, balance and imbalance. And then we practice mindfulness to know what the hell to do with all of that.  (Physical postures are only about 12% of yoga by the way) So sure, kids can drop-in and do yoga poses any time, but the more consistently they come, the more yoga becomes part of their life. I don't teach kids lion breath so they can stick their tongue out at me in class. I teach it so they learn that angry feelings produce heat in their body. A way to discharge heat is with lion's breath. If they're angry, you cue lion's breath and help them learn to identify and manage big feelings. Now, can you learn this in one class? Maybe. But consistency builds generalization. Sessions allow for yoga to be effectively integrated into their daily life.

Ready to commit?
We love you.

Not ready to commit? 
We love you!

Teach your child about feelings as if their life depends on it.

There is a direct connection between how a child feels and how a child behaves.  

When they feel right, they behave right.  

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Feelings and behaviors present differently at different ages and stages, but each one is as important as the next.  A toddler may unknowingly feel angry and unknowingly react (like throwing a toy... or a full-blown tantrum). A school-aged kid may unknowingly feel inferior and act out in a desperate attempt to be 'cool' rather than 'lame'. And the teen years - oi vey - it's hard to choose just one hypothetical feeling, but a common coping strategy for uncomfortable or overwhelming feelings is to escape or to numb.  When we lack self-awareness, we tend to act in ways that are less than ideal. Identifying feelings is a solid first step to self-awareness. 

Allowing feelings to exist builds connection and trust in interpersonal relationships.

 Feelings are like icebergs.

Feelings are like icebergs.

This means they're more likely to tell you things! When a teenager rolls their eyes and makes fun of your outfit,  listen and be curious. You might notice that they feel inferior about their outfit (... and about lots of things). When a school-aged child says they hated their birthday party (that you just spend a fortune on and worked your ass off for) listen for the whole story.  They might keep talking and figure out that they hated their party because their best friend didn't pay any attention to them.  And when atoddler says they hate their sibling,  listen - allow them to feel comfortable enough to explore those feelings.  Feelings are like icebergs, and the behaviors that present themselves are just the tip.  There's so much more underneath which they're more likely to tell you about if you listen.  don't judge. don't deny. don't advise. just listen to your child and allow any feelings that arise. it's worth it - your child is worth being curious and getting to know all of their feelings - the deep, below the surface, iceberg feelings. allow it all to flow - you might connect more deeply than you ever imagined.

 

 Being curious about your feelings builds a strong connection between your body and your brain.

Your issues are stored in your tissues

 In many areas of the world, teaching children how to listen to their body is part of culture, family tradition, or school curriculum. This actually comes quite naturally to kids.  Even at their youngest, kids will tell you (sometimes loudly and inappropriately) about feelings they're having in their body or brain (they're hungry, they're hot, they're not tired, they're all of the above).  With the best of intentions, we usually dismiss them (please eat your dinner, keep your coat on, go. the f. to sleep. BECAUSE I SAID SO!)  A school-aged child might say their stomach hurts but they still have to go to school.  A teen doesn't know how to explain how scared they are, so they eat. or drink. or bury themselves in their cell phone. Kids are quickly discovering what many adults are pros at - numbing or escaping our feelings rather than feeling them.  I'm not BY ANY MEANS against treating yourself to a dessert or a cocktail - but I am much more in favor of feeding our bodies what they actually crave - which is often just a bit of attention and care.  Our emotions are stored in our body - so paying attention to our feelings and making healthy choices is something we all benefit from - and our kids need it like their life depends on it.

Feeling our feelings builds intuition.

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Usually the difference between knowing what’s right and doing what’s right is because they FEEL.

We need intuition to help us know when we're on the right path or know when to get out of an unsafe situation. We know, as adults, that we rely on intuition to make lots of big decisions (a job offer, child care, selling/buying a house).  But why would kids need intuition?! Well, first of all, if we build it when they're young - imagine how intuitively strong they'll be as adults?! But also, intuition is important at ALL ages.  When a toddler is first exposed to feeling fear (the dark, being alone, shadows) they need to know what to do next. Do they rely on an adult for comforting? Or can we help them build and feel their intuition? Imagine your school-aged child on the playground at recess. Their friend is being mistreated - maybe even bullied. They may have been 'taught' what to do, but do they do it?   For teens, building intuition is so important because they are becoming independent. You can't be there all the time (unless you bug their phones, which honestly, no judgement - do what you gotta do), but in reality, you're not there for every decision they make.  At this age they are making pretty big decisions (do I get in the car with my friend who's been drinking?  do I say or do something so I'm liked? which school do I choose?) teen years are a pretty tricky time (see my other blogs) but it's super important that they learn how to listen to their intuition.

Our intuition guides us to stay safe and stay on the right path. 

There are no guarantees in life - but learning about yourself, allowing feelings, and teaching intuition - you can't go wrong.

Not sure where to start? Journey with me in our 10-week session about feelings. Yoga is the perfect place to be curious and explore your inner self.

Dear teenager,

If you come to my yoga class, I promise not to call you 'teenager' but until then, since I don't know your name yet, that's what we'll start with.

See, I feel like I already know you even though we haven't met.

You probably have a caring adult in your life who wants the best for you (I did, too). You're probably experiencing some hard stuff in your life (holy $#*!, I did, too) and your adult isn't quite sure how to help you (Um, yeah, my parents had a PhD in cluelessness with teenagers.). You might have shut them out (I shut everyone out - shut my door, shut my ears, shut my heart), and maybe you let them in only to feel like they don't truly understand you (my parents definitely did NOT understand me). You might even feel like no one understands you. (I didn't think anyone would ever understand me). Sound familiar?

So here's what I'll tell you - you're right. No-one understands you. But you, dear teenager, you are brilliant. And you - ONLY YOU - have the power to understand yourself. That's the only person that ever needs to understand you.  You are the only person who needs to know you, trust you, and love you from the inside out AND outside in. 

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I'll never tell you:
that loving yourself is easy

or that it only matters what you're like on the inside,
or that it doesn't matter what people say about you,
or that you're supposed to be happy all the time - you have so much to be grateful for!

you’re supposed to feel all sorts of feelings all the time - no-one is always happy and grateful

Here's what I will tell you:
it's really hard to love yourself - and it will only come with practice
it's ok to want to be beautiful on the inside and the outside - as long as you're not letting someone else's version of beauty reign
your brain is actually wired in teen years to care what other people think of you - it's tribal and it's temporary (if you want it to be)

Yoga for teens is about sequencing poses and breathing techniques that are known to reduce anxiety and depression, increase self-confidence, and provide tools for coping with stuff.  

You’re not going to walk out of the first class like Beyonce... but you’ll be on your way.

It's about learning how to deal with adult size problems while still allowing yourself to be a kid sometimes. And it's about spending some time with yourself and getting to know and love yourself.  It might be easy. It might be hard. But that's life. And that's yoga. And you can do it, dear teenager. I promise you - you can do it.

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You don't need anything to get started - nothing to buy, nothing to bring. You've got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. 

I have a mat waiting for you.

Yoga in the Teens Years: Navigating Bullying, Hormones, Break-ups, & Peer Pressure

Yoga is not a cure all- but it can help your teen live a happier life.

That's a lot of stuff to deal with right there. Anything in that title ON IT'S OWN would send most adults running for the hills. And then we expect a teenager to deal with it all in the same day?! Someone who hasn't even been alive since Y2K?  

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Teens have a lot going on, and they often get a bad reputation. The truth is - teenagers are my heroes.  They're living every day like a roller coaster not knowing when the next sharp turn, corkscrew, or jolted stop is going to hit them.

A teenager will most likely feel extreme joy, sadness, fear, loneliness, anger, rejection, and love all in one day. And (even scarier) some will feel NOTHING. a whole lot of nothing. Because their system (their body and brain) has already decided that being numb is safer for self-preservation. With phones, video games, social media, and substance abuse, just to name a few, there is a plethora of unhealthy choices any teen could make at any given moment. Rather than criticizing them because they bury themselves in DISTRACTIONS, let's instead give them the tools to identify and deal with these feelings. These feelings are their life.

Cultivating intuition is crucial

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Skills need to be taught. Dealing with cyber bullying or a broken heart is not instinctual. It's intuitive. And intuition is slowly chipped away when we're given a million other things in life to worry about. Intuition can only be FELT. Well, teenagers are usually either overwhelmed with all of their feelings or scared to feel anything at all (see above - do we blame them?!). Asking them to identify a feeling is like trying to identify a single snowflake in a blizzard. Yoga can teach teens how to slow life down for a hot minute so they can feel their feelings long enough to know what the hell to do next.  Yoga teaches you about YOURSELF. How your brain ticks and how your body tocks, and how your breath is there to calm you even when it feels like the whole world's against you. 

 

Yoga inherently encourages independence self-love & self-care

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Teens want privacy. They want independence. They want to be left alone. Can we stop treating them like this is bad? Independence is empowering and exciting (and ok, maybe a little scary). So let's teach them to be alone in a healthy safe environment.

Give them space, healthy space

Yoga teaches teens how to be alone with their body, their brain, and their breath without judgement. Yoga doesn't force socialization. It doesn't focus on being super athletic or being part of a team. It's about being with yourself.

Because the relationship you have with yourself is the longest and most important relationship you'll ever have. 

I hope this goes without saying, but, as a parent, you're my hero, too. My daughter's not even 4 and she's already aged me about 89 years. I can't even imagine when she's in her teenage years. It's scary. and it's ok to be scared. but have faith in your YEARS of parenting. and have faith in your little human. and know that they're supposed to be going through this. you can't protect them from life but you can teach them to live it.  you've got a lot to lose but even more to gain. hang in there with your years of wisdom and experience and stop yelling at them for hiding in their phone - you probably would have, too if there were cell phones back then ;)  

 

Learn More About How to Integrate Yoga into Your Teen's Life

Why Self-Care for Parents Matters More in 2018

Because your kids WATCH you WAY MORE than they LISTEN to you.  
 

 The eyes are watching - What do you want them to see?

The eyes are watching - What do you want them to see?

You can tell your kids to say and do the right thing, be kind to others, be kind to themselves, and all sorts of other important life lessons.  Guess what? They don’t listen to you!  They don’t brush their teeth the first time you ask. They go quickly when you want them to be careful and they move like molasses when you’re already running late.  They grab things from their little brother as soon as you leave the room.  Kids don’t always listen.  But you know what they do?

They watch. 

They watch you and they might even want to be you.  They watch the way you carry yourself, they way you build relationships, the way you live your life.

THEY WATCH THE WAY YOU CARE FOR YOURSELF.  So self-care matters - because your little humans - the mini versions of you - they watch every. single. thing. you do. 

Because there’s no fucking PAUSE button on PARENTHOOD.  

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Parenting is hard.  It’s non stop. It never ends. And no one hands you a pause button (or an easy button, but that’s a story for a different day…).  I literally tattooed a pause button on my wrist when my daughter was 6 months old as a constant reminder.  If you don’t learn strategies and make time to create your own pause button, you’ll be impatient, reactive, and resentful. 

Self-care is your pause button. 

Self-care teaches you how to go slow in a really fast life.  Self-care creates space - space to respond (rather than react), space to speak (rather than nag), and space to love (rather than resent).  Self-care gives you space to see clearly through the fog of your sleep-deprived, needy, stressful life.

Self care is not an option. Don’t view it as a choice. It’s as important as the food you eat or the water you drink. 
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Self-care leads to healthy self esteem. Anyone who’s ever struggled with self esteem knows that it can be a real downer - literally.  Anxiety, depression, suicide, addiction, I know - these are scary things to think about if you’re holding a tiny baby in your arms. But the reality is we live in a world of some crazy shit going on. 

Kids need tools to live in this world so we don’t feel scared to keep them in a bubble. Self-care means self-awareness, self-identity, self-compassion, self-esteem, self-confidence - and if you truly know who you are, love who you are, and own who you are, it makes all those scary things feel less scary.

It doesn’t make them disappear - Trump is still President - but you can’t selectively numb - so rather than numbing our lives and not feeling our feelings, can’t we use some self-care to make life tolerable so we can really live it? Live all of it.  

There’s a reason they say put your oxygen mask on first.