Yoga in Schools Aligns Body, Mind & Heart. ~ Elizabeth Reese

Via elephant journal
on Apr 13, 2012
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Photo credit: Elizabeth Reese

It brought tears to my eyes. And when I say tears, I mean the streaming ones with trembling, smiling lips.

In a PE class at a Corpus Christi elementary school last spring, about 40 kids took their new journey to begin PE class. Singing and practicing the Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® sun salutation, Toco el Sol, it looked and sounded like they had been doing this all year. When the music player stopped suddenly, it didn’t stop them; with only four days of this vinyasa shining in their lives, they kept the light flowing.

This team of PE teachers, faculty, administration and students were part of a three-school Pilot Program implementing a sample, five-week Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® curriculum based on the story of Ganesha into their existing program.

The teachers first attended a workshop. Here they received a curriculum including five weeks of daily lessons featuring our version of The Story of Ganesha, a poster of a work of art of the “hero” Ganesha from the Crow Collection of Asian Art, our bilingual music, custom latex-free mats, and our award-winning DVD. These materials empowered teachers to weave original art, music, games, stories, and other sensory-integrated activities into their existing curricula. This Pilot Program reached over 600 elementary students and about 275 middle schoolers.

The pilot program of integrating yoga into schools was needed.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, test results indicate that Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD) 3rd-5th graders averaged between overweight and obese, and that 48% fall below the National Fitness Zone. To investigate physical benefits, we used existing State of Texas Fitnessgrams as pre- and post-tests to measure physical changes encouraged by the addition of yoga. We also taught pranayama, like Flower Power.

Across the board there was an increase in physical flexibility. And some youth reported additional ranges of flexibility as well.

“What I like best about Yogiños is that I feel more flexible….and not just here in PE, but everywhere,” shared one 5th grader in an exit-interview.

Many yoga for kids programs—International Association of School Yoga and Mindfulness, ChildLight Yoga, Yoga in My Schools, Little Flower Yoga and Shanti Generation, to name but only a few—provide support, training and techniques for teachers, faculty, staff and administrators of schools and organizations to integrate aerobic, strength, flexibility and rejuvenation activities into the daily lives of students and families in safe, healthy, engaged, supported and OHMazing™ ways.

Bringing yoga into schools is important for the integration of body, mind and heart.

Scott Eliff, Superintendent of Corpus Christi Independent School District says that many schools have focused only on academics and the mind for too long. “We are now learning we need alignment of the whole body, heart and mind for optimal learning,” Eliff said when we met to discuss bringing Yogiños: Yoga for Youth into the district.

Indeed, current brain, academic and cardiovascular research provide scientific evidence that practices related specifically to yoga and breathing techniques offer:
~ 27% increase in GABA levels (calmness, anti-anxiety);
~ Improved academic achievement through learning how to improve focus and handle stress;
~ Increased academic interest through providing integrated movement in traditionally sedentary, academic settings;
~ Interactive experiences with team-building, cooperation and tolerance.

Since the completion of the Pilot Program last spring, Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® facilitated our basic two and half days training with 80 PE teachers from CCISD last summer. We also provided this training to all faculty and staff at Corpus Christi Montessori School where we currently are in a full-school integration. Here we are conducting scientific-based research investigating the various impacts and benefits of weaving the program into the school’s curriculum. This study includes research with both students and teachers.

Read more:

Every Breath You Take.

I am OHMazing.

Photo credit: David Perrone

Elizabeth “Beth” Reese, Ph.D., E-RYT, RCYT, is the founder and executive director of Yogiños: Yoga for Youth®. A yoga practitioner for over 13 years, Beth is the mother of three OHMazing yogis under the age of 13. Her oldest daughter, Jordan, is part of the inspiration for Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® as she learned to navigate challenges associated with Sensory-Integration “Disorder” through practicing all 8 Limbs of yoga.Yogiños: Yoga for Youth offers classes for children and families as well as trainings for classroom teachers, yoga instructors, parents, and others interested in bringing yoga and healthy choices to all ages. [email protected] and here.






Editor Tanya L. Markul

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11 Responses to “Yoga in Schools Aligns Body, Mind & Heart. ~ Elizabeth Reese”

  1. Fabulous to see the growing impact of yoga in schools. Thanks Beth for working diligenlyt to share the health and healing benefits of these techniques with today's youth. You are OHMazing!

    Thx for the shout out. Yoga In My School offers training, resources and more for those interested in bringing yoga into schools.
    Donna Freeman

    Here is a link to an interview w Beth regarding foreign language learning and yoga – good stuff!

  2. Lisa Glynn says:

    Wonderful work Beth! Thanks for the shout out to the work of ChildLight yoga and Yoga 4 Classrooms. We are actually here in NYC this weekend at the Yoga Journal Conference spreading the word about the benefits of yoga and mindfulness education in schools. For those in the area, come visit us at the Yoga 4 Classrooms booth where we have our newly published y4c card decks on sale as well as info on our trainings and workshops for educators, school counselors and yoga teachers. We have some info about our ongoing study as well.

    So wonderful to see so many kids yoga teachers moving ahead to bring yoga to school! Congrats!

    Lisa flynn

  3. Lorin says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the brand new Elephant Family and Education Homepage.

    Lorin Arnold
    Blogger at The VeganAsana
    Please "like" Elephant Family on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

  4. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  5. beth reese says:

    Donna you are OHMazing! I feel so so lucky to be in such a great community with such inspiring people…. Many thanks for your hard work and support!

  6. beth reese says:

    YESSSSSS and I am coming to see you and give you a big hug! Can't wait! Your work is incredible and I am honored to work with such a supportive community!

  7. So exciting and such valuable research for the school yoga movement!
    Thank you and all the best!

  8. childlightyoga says:

    SO great to finally meet you at the conference Beth. Please do continue your wonderful work. I envision a collaboration in the future!….. 🙂

  9. beth reese says:

    LISA! Now you're talkin, sista! That sounds wonderful! Take care and let's be in touch… fo reals.

  10. beth reese says:

    Leah! Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm!