Mindfulness has become a buzz word recently. For us at the Somerset Natural Learning Academy it something we have been working with since 2006.
I was originally employed by the Glastonbury Trust (our parent organisation) to research the use of Yoga and Meditation in primary schools. We began our ‘6 Schools Project’ to explore how these practices might be embedded in the school day. As an experienced primary school teacher I was only too aware of the pressures of the school day and the importance of coming up with a formula that was practical and would fit neatly into the school day.
As a Primary School teacher and have always had the interest of the child at heart and I feel it is important to develop confidence and self esteem to help develop learning. I believe that teaching yoga to children can help to promote a healthy mind, relieve stress and help them cope with their increasingly busy and demanding lives.
To support my work I completed a part-time two year course with an organisation that specialised in yoga for children and young people – RYE (Research on Yoga in Education).
RYE were set up in 1978 to develop and teach yoga techniques to educators, giving them opportunities to explore yoga theory alongside classroom practice to improve pupil’s learning, memory ,attention and self esteem. Their approach is not to insert a yoga class into the timetable but to intersperse techniques throughout the school day to help deliver the curriculum. This helps children to stay alert and relaxed during the day and reduce stress levels.
I have recently completed my training and am qualified as a Yoga teacher, with training that has specialised in yoga for children and young people.
Yoga and Mindfulness
Through doing yoga we develop a mental and physical focus, strength , balance , flexibility and overall health. When we are focused and balanced everything else becomes easier from concentrating and learning, to being less reactive and making better decisions
Studies show that yoga:
- Calms the mind
- Relieves stress
- Increases concentration and attention span
- Promotes thinking
- Expands imagination and creativity
- Improves ability to be less reactive and more mindful of thoughts and actions
- Reduces anxiety
Being Mindful means to pay close attention to what we are doing at any given moment. Being present in the moment is important as it allows us to see things as they are and to reduce any negative impact from our emotional responses. As well as teaching children to focus on the moment, we also teach them to understand the importance of not hanging on to feelings that make them feel angry, sad or distracted.
Being mindful helps us to be more patient with ourselves and others. It helps us to deal with stress and generally makes us more empathic.
Teaching mindfulness to children is unique. It is designed to incorporate moments of silence, structured relaxation times, visualisation exercises and activities that foster intentional movement which engage the children. They soon come to love those moments of quiet and stillness, which can become a real treat in a busy day.
Yoga for Children – Mindful Magic for Minors
SNLA can help to train teachers in Mindfulness.
We offer a practical approach and can work in a “hands-on’ way with the children to mirror the techniques., allowing teachers to observe mindfulness in practise. This can be followed up by question and answer sessions with teachers either as a twi-light session or as INSET. Followed by on-going support throughout the term.
Helping children to be Happy and Healthier and cope with Life in the 21st century.
- Sessions would last approx 30 minutes and are designed to meet the age and requirements of the child.
- The yoga is designed to be dynamic, using techniques to capture the imagination of the child.
- It is creative movement, containing yoga-breathe awareness, mind-body fitness and the opportunity to experience the’ self within’.
- There is time for relaxation and use of simple mindfulness techniques to help find still silent moments.
Mindfulness magic for minors
Breathing and stilling techniques that have been shown to help with stress in adults can also hugely benefit children. Research shows that children who regularly practise mindfulness become naturally mindful and live in the moment without worrying about the past or the future. Helping their self- awareness and helping with anxiety. It can be introduced into the classroom and revisited each day at a regular time slot where the teacher goes over techniques they have learnt. Mindfulness needs to be practised each day and not focused on outcome so it does not become a pressure to children.
Gwyneth Harwood, Spring 2014