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June 24, 2012

Let’s Put Yoga on the School Schedule. ~ Gitte Lindgaard

I just love yoga. Love love love it.

Yoga has changed my life. It has opened a door into a world with love to me and the world around me, a world of forgiveness and second chances. A world with grace, calmness and acceptance.

I truly believe that if more people did yoga, the world would be a better place. When people ask me about my yoga practice or where, why or who I teach, I always try to keep in mind not to talk for too long, because they probably don’t have the same love for yoga that I do.

I don’t always succeed, but I’m getting better at reading the poor people who gets caught by their question, so I know when I’ve talked too long. Then I always finish with: “If it were up to me yoga would be on the school schedule”.

So why is it not on the school schedule? I have lined up 5 really good reasons why it should:

  1. Yoga is fun for children. To imitate animal movement have always been part of the way kids play. Teach them to do the downward dog, cobra pose, to fly like a butterfly etc. To let children play in the yoga zoo is always a success.
  2. We live in a part of the world where we are getting more unhealthy and obese. It‘s vital that we do something to change it. Why not prevent this negative progress by teaching yoga to kids. The physical part of yoga (Asanas) will teach children strength, flexibility, body awareness, better posture and correct breathing.
  3. Part of why we are so unhealthy is that we reduce stress and anxiety by eating. We feel disconnected and try to numb our mind by keeping it busy all the time. Being on the phone or in front of the computer or keeping the TV on at all times. Doing yoga teach children how to mentally focus, to be present, it builds up confidence and since it’s a non competitive sport the kids will not have to worry about being good or bad, being a success or a failure.
  4. Yoga can be personalized to fit the children. Children who have trouble sitting still or concentrating can do more breathing exercises and calming positions. This even works on children with ADHD and OCD. Other children may be indolent and dull; they can be energized with more dynamic or challenging yoga.
  5. Doing yoga on a regular basic will teach children to know their self,  their body and their mind. This will help them to understand the signals of their body like hunger or pain. They will be better to understand their feelings and reactions. This will undeniably create individuals who will be kinder, gentler and more in pact with nature.

This is why I root for yoga on the school schedule.

As it turns out, I am not the first.

There have already been taken initiatives to put yoga on the school schedule. Three organizations have launched training programs that educate yoga teachers and school teachers in the U.S. and the U.K. to teach yoga to children in schools.

Studies shows that in the schools with yoga, the learning ability went up. Breathing techniques were used with huge success before student would take a test to clear the mind, but also to calm the body.  Students also improve their ability to work through problems after a yoga class. Another study from California showed that there were a correlation between yoga and better behavior and grades, and it also showed that young yogis were more fit than the district average.

To get yoga into the schools the organizations had to remove everything that could be seen as a reference to yoga’s Hindu roots. So chanting was eliminated and every Sanskrit name was translated to an English child friendly name. Meditation became “time in” etc.

I’m a yoga teacher, so I know how to do yoga with my kids at home, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if every child could have the benefits of yoga?  To let yoga be part of school is an easy way to reach and help every child. Let’s make an effort together and bring yoga into more schools.

Gitte Lindgaard lives in Denmark with her husband and two daughters. She has a degree in Nutrition and Health and specializes in empowering people to be aware and take responsibility for healthy living. Gitte practices yoga and after recovering from whiplash, she began teaching yoga to people with disabilities. Gitte believes in doing something every day that her future self will be proud of. Follow her on Twitter here.

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Editor: Ryan Pinkard

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