Lara Veon

Yoga and Mindfulness Educates the Whole Child

Mindful Practices

There's no arguing that students today need wellness as a component of their education more than ever before. From a super-size food culture to screen-time saturated entertainment to an increase in trauma in our communities, the experiences in which children are immersed when they leave the care of their schools are often lacking in sound health, social engagement, and safety.

This shortage of wellness might manifest in a variety of ways in the classroom: inattention, hypo/hyper arousal, academic challenges, interpersonal difficulties, and a host of other problems that affect classroom management and student learning. As educators, it is easy to get stuck in a frenetic and stressful cycle of reacting to problems that surface in the classroom or larger school community when what most truly desire is an opportunity for their students to learn skills that will challenge them to contribute to the world in a meaningful and productive way.

Using yoga and mindfulness in schools can do just that.

Yoga is a system of connecting the whole self: body, mind, and spirit. Through movement, breath, and mindfulness meditation (the act of paying attention to what is happening in the moment without the need to change the experience), students and teachers alike can cultivate a safe space in which to build a practice that supports patience and compassion for oneself and others and empowers positive decision making. In addition, classroom culture organically transforms into a place that encourages self-awareness and emphasizes distress tolerance, mood regulation, and empathic interpersonal skills.

The physiological benefits of yoga are numerous, including stabilization of the autonomic nervous system, lower blood pressure, improved posture, increased energy and endurance, better sleep, and a healthier immune system overall. A growing field of research in contemplative awareness practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation in schools is also experiencing findings that support psychological benefits. Resoundingly, the research concludes yoga in an educational environment is beneficial for psychosocial well-being. In addition, recent studies have shown that meditation in schools improves executive functioning, particularly in self-awareness, self-control, and attention and reports outcomes such as reduced anxiety and stress, as well as reduced aggression and misbehavior in students.

Incorporating yoga and mindfulness meditation into the classroom needn't come at the expense of academic lessons. In fact, in brief 5–10 minute intervals, these approaches can be used as a classroom management strategy to engage student energy and enhance those tricky transitions that often divert so much time away from student learning. By embedding just a few minutes of yoga into the daily classroom routine, teachers create a safe and positive classroom environment, improve the holistic health of their students (and themselves!), and nurture the connection between student achievement and wellness. Encouraging long-term, sustainable physical and emotional health, the practice of yoga and mindfulness in schools educates the whole child.

Lara Veon is a team member at Mindful Practices. She is a body-centered psychotherapist, educator, writer, and yoga instructor who has been teaching and counseling in educational and community settings for more than 10 years. Veon enjoys sharing the transformational effect of yoga and wellness with students in all stages of life. Contact Mindful Practices at admin@MindfulPracticesYoga.com.

Comments (4)

Dee Blassie

October 17, 2012

Hats off to Lara Veon for always going the extra mile to set others up for SUCCESS inside and outside the classroom.Lara’s wonderful strategies of incorporating yoga and mindfulness meditation in the classroom should and needs to be implemented in the classroom. How manys schools are piloting this concept? What can we do to encourage schools to participate in Lara’s wellness program? What can I do to help Lara spread this incredible holistic approach?
Lara has always been the most caring educator…. as you can see Lara never stops caring for others. I am so proud of Lara! She inspired me when I worked with her at Clayton High School in Clayton, Missouri.

Leslie

October 17, 2012

I am a preschool teacher and yoga instructor; it is so exciting to see others using yoga to benefit children. I love the recognition that yoga in schools is getting and applaud all that take part in this endeavor. Thank you for spreading the word.

Patrick

October 24, 2012

I have started using yoga in my classroom this year and am seeing some interesting developments.  It’s early still but I look forward to the journey.  Thanks to Yoga4Classrooms for the start.

John Ferreira

November 24, 2012

At st. Peters college Agra, we have introduced yoga and meditation to our four thousand students. Parents and well wishes also join the college to learn yoga. Both people and students have experienced wonderful effects of yoga.

Share |

Blog Archive

Blog Tags