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Yoga for School Kids - Yogaglo features Yoga 4 Classrooms

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

As more schools around the country start adding yoga and mindfulness practices to their curricula, there is also a growing stream of positive media attention. Most recently, the popular Yogaglo Blog published an article titled, Yoga for School Kids, written by Alice Walton. Alice is also responsible for recently published Forbes article which touted the scientific benefits of of meditation for children's brains and behavior, a notable read.  

Y4C founder and CEO, Lisa Flynn, first met Alice at the first annual Yoga in the Schools Symposium held at Kripalu back in 2014. As a health and science writer, she was inspired to learn more about the tremendous impact yoga and mindfulness integration at school can have on the health and performance of schoolchildren and educators, as well as on school climate. Lisa had been following her writing since that time and was thrilled to hear from Alice a couple of months ago as she was gathering content for these articles. Her initial question: How does yoga and meditation in school support social and emotional growth and kindness? As it ends up, their communications focused on the seemingly endless trickle-down effects that regular yoga and meditation practices can have on individual students, educators and the school culture as a whole:

“It goes without saying that emotionally and physically healthy kids who feel safe, supported and connected are happier and more successful in and out of school,” says Lisa Flynn, who founded Yoga 4 Classrooms. “A growing body of evidence is demonstrating yoga in schools promotes the development of social, emotional, and physical well-being of school children (and teachers) as it fosters a positive, compassionate school climate, all of which are key for effective teaching and learning.”

When kids are more centered and more attentive, this can open up the way for academic changes to occur. And it’s the potential for academic benefits that may initially prompt the schools to make the leap into offering yoga – but the fuller range of benefits will of course be there as well. “With social-emotional changes in place, we begin to see improvements in the areas of academic achievement, and decreases in behavior referrals,” says Flynn. “These are the areas that may be of most interest to school administrators who are just starting to explore yoga for their schools.”

Read the full article here.

Interested in bringing yoga and mindfulness to your school? Contact us to learn more.

Related Articles:

Inner City School Principal Shares Results of School-Wide Implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms | VIDEO
Scientific Evidence for Yoga & Mindfulness in Schools : How & Why Does it Work?
The Benefits of Meditation for Children | Forbes article
Des Moines School District Reduces Punitive Actions

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Des Moines School District Reduces Punitive Actions

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

During the 2015-16 school year in Des Moines (IA), black students accounted for 41 percent of all disciplinary referrals, but make up only 18.3 percent of district enrollment. Across the country, minority students receive disproportionately more suspensions and expulsions than their white peers. Civil right activists have drawn attention to the associated social concern of "school-to-prison" pipeline and even Former President Barack Obama has called for changes in approaches to school discipline. Unfortunately, there is little agreement on what that change should look like. In fact, some parents and teachers are raising concerns about the lack of disciplinary action in Des Moines, where school leaders are changing the district’s use of discipline to sharply reduce and eliminate expulsions. 

For years the standard practice was to kick misbehaving students out of the classroom but this often leads to the students falling behind academically and that approach does little to address the underlying issues of poor behavior. One approach that does seem to rally administrator, teacher and parent support is visible at Edmunds Elementary. The approach at Edmunds is actually part of a larger trend around the country -  schools are using yoga and mindfulness instead of punitive actions to address the underlying causes of disruptive classroom behavior which can include stress and trauma and a lack of social and emotional skills such as self-awareness and self-management. In an article titled, The Movement of Meditation Replacing Detention In Schools, Newsweek recently featured a Baltimore School which teaches students ways to manage their anger through yoga and meditation. And, a Forbes article titled, The Benefits of Meditation for Children, followed shortly thereafter. 

Edmunds has seen dramatic results as a result of school wide Yoga 4 Classrooms implementation, including reductions in office referrals from 1,195 in 2012-13 to just 303 in 2015-16. Principal Jaynette Rittman says that suspensions have been virtually eliminated. Fourth-grader Libby Latimore likes to imagine herself alone in a quiet space, away from the noise of school or home. The deep breaths help, especially after being angry. "It helps you forget about it for school," she said. "I calm myself down before I explode."

Read the full article here.

Interested in bringing yoga and mindfulness to you school? Contact us to learn more.

Related Articles:

Inner City School Principal Shares Results of School-Wide Implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms
Scientific Evidence for Yoga & Mindfulness in Schools : How & Why Does it Work?
Yoga 4 Classrooms Implement Leader featured in YogaIowa Magazine
The Benefits of Meditation for Children | Forbes article
Yoga for School Kids - Yogaglo features Yoga 4 Classrooms

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The Benefits of Meditation for Children | Forbes article

Monday, October 24, 2016

Recent articles such as this one in Newsweek featured a Baltimore school that replaced detention with meditation. This is part of a burgeoning trend of replacing punitive discipline with restorative justice practices in schools. While our friends at the Holistic Life Foundation have been leading school programs in the Baltimore area, other schools across the country such as Edmunds Elementary in Des Moines IA, have also been using yoga and meditation strategies to help students reflect on their actions and make mindful choices. At Edmunds, students that have experiencing difficulty with self-management are guided to name their emotion and practice their "go-to" breath which they choose at the beginning of the day to use when they are feeling triggered. Teaching students to manage their emotions and giving them a space to self-regulate also supports Social and Emotional Learning objectives (SEL) such as self management and responsible decision making. The efficacy of this approach involving yoga and meditation rather than detention is highlighted by tangible benefits such as a decrease in suspensions and increase in school attendance. 

In addition, the research on meditation and the developing child's brain is providing scientific support to the benefits observed in schools. A growing body of evidence highlights increased attention, reprieve from trauma and improved mental health as a result of meditation. This recent Forbes article, featuring statements from Lisa Flynn, founder and CEO of Yoga 4 Classrooms, succinctly highlights these evidence-based benefits and demonstrates the growing mainstream acceptance of yoga and meditation for children and in schools. Read the full article...

Interested in bringing yoga and mindfulness to your school? contact us to learn more.

Related Articles:
Scientific Evidence for Yoga & Mindfulness in Schools : How & Why Does it Work?
Inner City School Principal Shares Results of School-Wide Implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms | VIDEO
Yoga for School Kids - Yogaglo features Yoga 4 Classrooms


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School implements yoga to support executive functioning

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Steckel Elementary (Whitehall, PA) Principal Glenn Noack said the program, "Yoga 4 the Classroom," was introduced because his diverse student population often struggles with "executive functioning," which includes impulse, focus and attention control. He explained the students can perform the exercises right from their classroom seats. He added the program will not only help reduce stress and tension, but will also help reduce pre-test anxiety. 

Contact Us to implement Yoga 4 Classrooms® in your school!

Read more from 

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Yoga helps students through busy school days | ABC News feature

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

School days are busy with plenty of transitions. How does yoga help students focus and get ready to learn? A growing corpus of research demonstrates that yoga activates the centers of higher executive function in the brain which facilitate complex tasks and are involved in forming new memories. It is no wonder that schools across the country are turning to yoga and mindfulness programs to improve classroom climate and boost academic outcome.

Sustainability Academy in Burlington, VT is a great example of sustainable Yoga 4 Classrooms implementation. They worked closely with local trainer Susan Cline Lucey to give all teachers, staff and students a common set of tools for self-management  Yoga 4 Classrooms

Would you like to Implement this simple and cost-effective program in your school? Contact Us to learn about training options.

Watch this ABC News Special to get the full story.

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The business and science behind children's yoga | News Article

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Yoga 4 Classrooms CEO and founder, Lisa Flynn speaks with Fosters reporter Kathy Eow. She explains her philosophy for bringing kids yoga into the educational system while using sustainable business ventures.

"Supporting yoga with scientific evidence about its health benefits grounds yoga in logic for the naysayers. Approaching yoga from a business perspective allows ChildLight Yoga / Yoga 4 Classrooms to be a sustainable venture. A different strategy, perhaps, but one that just might actualize Flynn’s long-term goal. “My philosophy is, if we can start kids off really young, and make it just part of the fabric and culture of the educational system, where we’re taking these pauses and movement and mindful breathing breaks and so forth, we’re building emotional resilience over time. That’s going to take policy change.”"

Contact Us to develop a sustainable and customized implementation plan so you can bring yoga and mindfulness tools to your classroom.

Read the Full article here:

Yoga 4 Classrooms founder & CEO, Lisa Flynn. Photo by Kathy Eow of
Yoga 4 Classrooms founder & CEO, Lisa Flynn.
Photo by Kathy Eow of

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Inner City School Principal Shares Results of School-Wide Implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms | VIDEO

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

According to our recently developed Research Repository, a free compilation reference book of peer-reviewed studies on yoga, meditation, and mindfulness for children, adolescents, and in schools, approximately 423 studies and research review articles have been published in this field since 1969. In summary, findings suggest that yoga supports the development of mind-body awareness, physical fitness and self-regulation. These competencies can have positive downstream effects on behavior, well being, academic/cognitive performance, social awareness and relationships, supporting the social and emotional learning goals espoused by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). And classroom teachers benefit, as well. Therefore, school-based yoga programs have the potential to offer a cost-effective, evidence-based solution to address many of the behavioral and academic challenges faced by schools, while promoting emotional resilience and positive school climate, key factors in keeping kids in school and preventing mental health disorders. 

In an effort to help inform and inspire the continued discussion about key contributors and best practices for successfully integrating yoga and mindfulness into daily curricula, Yoga 4 Classrooms® has begun to document the implementation journeys of the schools we have supported. In addition, we hope to encourage the development of additional research projects that can serve to document such case studies, both qualitatively and quantitatively, helping to grow the field of evidence supporting use of mind-body practices in the educational setting. In our first case study, we highlight the school-wide implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms® at Edmunds Elementary in Des Moines, Iowa, which reveals several beneficial outcomes as a result of fostering social and emotional learning competencies over the last few years. 

Edmunds Elementary is an inner city school in Des Moines, IA where the student population is 95% minority with over 60% English Language Learners. When School Principal, Jaynette Rittman, started at Edmunds three years ago, she found that the students were extremely dysregulated despite the positive behavior intervention systems and social and emotional skill building programs they had in place. Jaynette and her team integrated their existing tools to create a school-wide system called EC3 (Edmunds Culture, Climate and Content). While this created a new framework for school-wide expectations, including the implementation of “Stop-Think-Make a Good Choice”, there was still something missing. Students were beginning to stop to think, but they were still lacking the skill set needed for self-managing and making a good choice. 

After investigating the related benefits of integrating yoga and mindfulness at school, Jaynette and her staff decided to train with Yoga 4 Classrooms®. With full staff buy-in and internal leadership, Yoga 4 Classrooms® has been integrated twice daily into the schedule and implemented school-wide with notable results. After just two years, Edmunds Elementary went from having the lowest test scores in the district to an 18.7% increase in 2016, the most significant improvement district-wide. Office referrals decreased from 1000 incidents per year, 3 years ago, to 250-300 incidents in 2016. Demonstrations of student engagement and student leadership have become increasingly common, as well as instances of students applying new skills outside of school during challenging situations. Staff members have shared that their own well being, emotional resilience and effectiveness have been improved, and some have even been inspired to start or deepen their own personal yoga practices, as well. Not surprisingly, a general feeling of community, connectedness and overall engagement has had a significantly positive impact on overall school climate. 

Jaynette credits the successful implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms® to a number of factors including the decision to go school-wide and to integrate yoga into the daily schedule. In addition, she highlights administration support as being a critical factor to ensuring full implementation school-wide as well as staff buy-in and a democratic approach where all stakeholders feel heard. As well, and perhaps the most important piece, according to Jaynette, is effective and thorough training combined with a team-based, intrinsically motivated approach to curriculum fine-tuning and roll-out. Jaynette and her team were dedicated to developing a year-long curriculum to support their unique goals and objectives.  Finally, she ensured that all staff members had all the support and resources they required including manuals, lesson plans, photocopies and even assigned support staff to help with the class and fill in when the classroom teacher was absent. With little to no external consulting and resources beyond that provided by the intial Yoga 4 Classrooms In-Service Workshop, followed by the IMPLEMENT™ Leader Training, Edmunds has quite successfully and sustainably implemented yoga and mindfulness school wide. 

At Yoga 4 Classrooms®, we understand the recipe for successful implementation of a school-based yoga and mindfulness program is unique to each school and depends on many variables. We also know that with strong leadership and effective, empowering training and support, sustainable school-wide implementation is possible. Yoga 4 Classrooms® program is designed to empower schools from the inside to plan and roll out implementation in a way that is best suited to their unique school community, goals and structures. Schedule a FREE consultation today to learn more! 

Related Articles from Our Blog:
Yoga 4 Classrooms IMPLEMENT Leader featured in YogaIowa Magazine 
Educators Use Yoga 4 Classrooms to Help Ease Student Anxiety Over Testing
An Antidote to Teacher Burnout: How Yoga and Mindfulness Can Support Resilience In and Out of the Classroom 
Yoga in the Schools Movement: Defining Success

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Yoga 4 Classrooms Implement Leader featured in YogaIowa Magazine

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dustin Hockman, classroom teacher and Yoga 4 Classrooms IMPLEMENT Leader was recently featured in the spring 2016 issue of YogaIowa magazine.

Dustin integrates yoga throughout his class day with his ESL students at Edmunds Elementary School, a diverse, inner city school in Des Moines, Iowa. He also teaches adult yoga classes at several locations nearby.

Students in Des Moines face a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed in school in addition to the numerous stressors they experience outside of school. Dustin shares Yoga 4 Classrooms programming with his students as part of an integrated, school wide effort at Edmunds Elementary aimed at helping students improve their social and emotional skills, learning and behavior.

School wide implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms means that students at Edmunds Elementary have yoga and mindfulness integrated in their schedule twice daily as well as throughout the day, as needed. The result: soaring test scores and a significant reduction in behavioral referrals, a supportive and safe school climate fostered by a dynamic school principal and staff who committed fully to program integration two years ago. Watch in the coming month for the full story to be shared here at our blog.


Read the full interview with Dustin Hockman published in the current issue of YogaIowa magazine.

Watch this video clip of Dustin sharing a short, playful yoga sequence with his ESL students as they prepare for the start of the day.




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Scientific Evidence for Yoga and Mindfulness in Schools: How and Why Does It Work?

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

As an education professional who is interested in school-based yoga, you might have already witnessed the benefits of yoga for your students. Still, a question remains. How and why is yoga beneficial for children and adolescents, and specifically, in the school setting? Research on yoga in schools has grown exponentially over the past 5 - 10 years, and while the results are still preliminary, scientists are beginning to understand why yoga serves as such a valuable component of school curricula nationwide.

Research suggests that school-based yoga cultivates competencies in mind-body awareness, self-regulation, and physical fitness. And classroom teachers benefit as well. Taken together, these competencies may lead to improvements in students’ behavior, mental state, health, and performance, as well as teacher resilience, effectiveness and overall classroom climate. 

The figure below outlines some of the potential benefits of yoga for youth (and adults):

Develops Mind-Body Awareness

By training students how to pay attention to the relationship between their mind and body, school-based yoga helps children notice the impact of stress on their well-being. For example, a student might start to notice that their stomach gets tight when they're worried about a test, or that they tend to gravitate toward unhealthy food when they're feeling down. This awareness (also known as mindfulness) may lead to changes in behavior by, for example, choosing to do 5 minutes of breathing exercises to relax a tight stomach or opting for an apple instead of chips. Preliminary studies of yoga for youth (Benavides & Caballero, 2009Wang & Hagins, 2016) and young adults (Eastman-Mueller et al., 2013) are starting to support these ideas.

Improves Self-Regulation

At a very broad level, self-regulation refers to our ability to manage our stress, emotions, and behaviors. Psychological and neuroscientific research (MLERN, 2012) is starting to show that yoga and meditation may help youth manage their stress and mood (Kaley-Isley, Peterson, Fischer, & Peterson, 2010Miller et al., 2014) and behave more positively (Butzer et al., 2015Schonert-Reichl & Lawlor, 2010). The basic idea is that yoga helps calm the fight or flight response, and induce the relaxation response, thus helping children calm themselves down and be less reactive in difficult situations. So instead of lashing out in anger on the playground, a student might take a deep breath and walk away.

Cultivates Physical Fitness

An important difference between yoga and mindfulness meditation is that yoga includes physical postures. In essence, yoga is a practice of “mindfulness in motion” that uses the body to promote awareness of the present moment. Given that more than one-third of American children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese (Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2012), school-based interventions that encourage the development of physical fitness are sorely needed. Research suggests that yoga may improve physical fitness in adolescents (Purohit et al., 2016) as well as benefit several aspects of physical health, such as improved respiratory function (Liu et al., 2014), increased exercise adherence (Bryan, Pinto, & Parasher, 2011), and reduced obesity risk factors (Cramer, Lauche, Haller, et al., 2014).

Enhances Student Behavior, Mental State, Health, and Performance

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), social-emotional learning involves developing 5 core competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making (CASEL, 2015). Research strongly suggests that school-based programs that enhance these competencies help students succeed not only academically, but personally as well (Durlak et al., 2011). Early evidence is also beginning to show that yoga and meditation might help students be more self-aware (Monshat et al., 2013), manage their emotions (Noggle, Steiner, Minami, & Khalsa, 2012), enhance their relationships (Conboy et al., 2013), and make better decisions (Barnes, Bauza, & Treiber, 2003).

Research also suggests that school-based yoga may improve academic achievement (Butzer et al., 2015; Kauts & Sharma, 2009Singh et al., 2016; Wang & Hagins, 2016) and classroom behavior (Barnes, Bauza, & Treiber, 2003; Koenig, Buckley-Reen, & Garg, 2012; Schonert-Reichl & Lawlor, 2010). In addition, yoga-based physical fitness may result in numerous positive outcomes including improved mood, reduced risk of psychological disorders, and enhanced cognitive performance (Fox, 1999; Sibley & Etnier, 2003).

In summary, a growing number of scientific studies suggest that yoga may enhance students’ mind-body awareness, self-regulation, and physical fitness which may, in turn, promote improved behavior, mental state, health, and performance (Butzer et al., 2016Ferreira-Vorkapic et al., 2015; Khalsa & Butzer, 2016; MLERN, 2012; Serwacki & Cook-Cottone, 2012).

Supports Teacher Resilience and a Positive Classroom Climate

Importantly, the benefits of school-based yoga also extends to classroom teachers.Recent research suggests that providing educators with training in yoga- and mindfulness-based skills may have several beneficial effects for educators, including increases in calmness, mindfulness, well-being, and positive mood, improvements in classroom management, emotional reactivity, physical symptoms, blood pressure, and cortisol awakening response, and decreases in mind and body stress (Harris et al., 2016; Jennings et al., 2013; Kemeny et al., 2012; Nosaka & Okamura, 2015Schussler et al., 2016; Sharp & Jennings, 2016). Indeed, providing teachers with skills and practices to enhance their own self-care is a crucial step toward improving classroom climate, teacher effectiveness and student outcomes (Roeser et al., 2012).

Based on the increasing evidence supporting the efficacy of yoga for children, school-based yoga programs are being increasingly implemented across the United States. These programs are designed to address stress and anxiety, and promote social and emotional learning, physical and emotional health and well-being, all basic requirements for readiness to learn and a positive, healthy school climate.

Ultimately, anecdotal evidence about the benefits of school-based yoga is not enough. Rigorous scientific research is what’s needed to change educational policy and make yoga a universal component of the public school system. Yoga 4 Classrooms® is excited to be part of the growing evidence-base for school-based yoga (you can read about our research study here).

Announcing the "Research Repository: Yoga and Meditation for Children and Adolescents"

With the intention of providing a FREE, helpful resource for educators, schools, program providers, researchers and others interested in the body of evidence supporting yoga, meditation and mindfulness for children, adolescents and in schools, Yoga 4 Classrooms and ChildLight Yoga founder, Lisa Flynn, and Bethany Butzer, PhD, partnered to compile a comprehensive research repository. This organized reference list of peer-reviewed published studies and research reviews provides links to abstracts and full-text publications when available. And, it's updated quarterly!

Download the Research Repository FREE from our Supporting Research Resources page here.

Portions of this blog were derived from a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Children’s Services titled “Implementing Yoga within the School Curriculum: A Scientific Rationale for Improving Social-Emotional Learning & Positive Student Outcomes” by Bethany Butzer, Denise Bury, Shirley Telles, and Sat Bir S. Khalsa.

Article Author:
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D.
serves as a research consultant for Yoga 4 Classrooms. Bethany received her Ph.D. in psychology in 2008 from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and she recently spent 2.5 years as a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where she studied the effects of yoga in school settings. Bethany is also an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Learn more at 

Lisa Flynn, E-RYT, RCYT,
is founder and CEO of ChildLight Yoga
and Yoga 4 Classrooms, and author of the Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck; and Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Reslient Children. Lisa contributed to the first research study to use subjective and objective data to examine the acute and longitudinal effects of a school based yoga intervention in young children. Recently honored as Dover, NH region’s “Small Business of the Year,” her studio and training center, serves as headquarters for its internationally recognized trainings and products while providing award-winning yoga programming for local families. Learn more about Lisa.

Related Articles from Our Blog:
Yoga in Public Schools: A Nationwide Grassroots Movement
Educators Use Yoga 4 Classrooms to Help Ease Student Anxiety Over Testing
An Antidote to Teacher Burnout: How Yoga and Mindfulness Can Support Resilience In and Out of the Classroom
Mindfulness in Schools: What Research Tells Us
Yoga in the Schools Movement: Defining Success
Research Report: Bridging Yoga Practice and Scientific Research


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Best Practices for Yoga in Schools White Book Created by Yoga Service Council

Monday, October 19, 2015

We are thrilled to announce "Best Practices for Yoga in Schools," a yoga service guide for yoga teachers, school teachers, school administrators, social workers, and anyone else interested in bringing yoga to kids safely and in a just and inclusive way is soon to be published. Book content was a collaborative effort of many leaders in the field, including Yoga 4 Classrooms founder, Lisa Flynn, and is being produced by the Yoga Service Council and the Omega Institute.

Click to watch the video and donate what you can - a donation of just $25 gets you first edition copy of this wonderful resource!

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