Yoga 4 Classrooms®

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Yoga 4 Classrooms Blog

First Y4C School in Canada featured in The Star Phoenix

Friday, June 28, 2013

Shelly McGrath, a Licensed Yoga 4 Classrooms Trainer, has been featured in the Star Phoenix newspaper article with her work at the first Y4C School in Canada. In fact, Shelly is one of the first three Y4C Trainers in Canada, and we're excited to bring the program to the schools across the border! With this successful beginning, in the fall her local school board will be implementing the Y4C Program in its entirety - learn more about how your school can become a Y4C School!

You can read the full article at the Star Phoenix website. Below is a short excerpt about what the first graders do during their Residency - the "Yoga Fridays":

"McGrath teaches yoga to every class, except the Grade 8s (due to scheduling), and the school’s principal Darrin Sinnett isn’t the only one who finds it “extremely beneficial.” When he sent out a newsletter to parents outlining the programming he was flooded with only positive responses.

“We have a multitude of students at various levels, different medical conditions and diagnoses. Everybody can do yoga. It’s a community building thing within the school,” he says.

“Kids intuitively know that these are things that their minds and bodies are seeking; kids are naturally intuitive to their inner needs,” says McGrath. “They just need time and space to get reacquainted to themselves.”


Read more about this inspiring story from the first Y4C school in Canada and learn how you can bring yoga to your school, become a Trainer or take the Professional Development Workshop.





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Yoga in Schools Promotes Spiritual Development & it Has Nothing to do With Religion

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What is spirituality and what role does it play in the whole child development? What is the scientific basis for the importance of spiritual development? Does spirituality belong in the school? 

These important and timely questions, and a more instrumental one "How can the practice of yoga be utilized to enhance spiritual development for school-aged children?", are addressed in our recently published in Elephant Journal article, Yoga in Schools Promotes Spiritual Development & it Has Nothing to do With Religion . 

You can read the full post by clicking here. Below is a part of this article highlighting the benefits of spirituality for holistic development.

"The following quote, excerpted from the Exercise for Spirit section of the new book by Lisa Flynn, Yoga for Children (F/W, Adams Media, May 2013), illustrates this connection between yoga and spirituality for kids.

“Your child’s spirit connects him with others and is essential to a healthy, well-adjusted child. Yoga practices will help foster your child’s spiritual growth by helping him see the beauty and light within himself, boosting confidence, and allowing him to feel more comfortable in his body. Yoga will help your child get in touch with who he is inside, and in turn will help connect with himself, others, and the world in a richer, more positive, and peaceful way”.

An integral part of psychological well-being, spirituality can be enhanced through the practice of yoga. The following are some important spiritual benefits of yoga for children: (adapted from the Yoga 4 Classrooms® Program Manual)

> Builds confidence and self-esteem
>Supports character development
> Enhances team skills and social interaction
> Develops discipline and self-control
> Supports individuality and self-expression
> Encourages social and environmental awareness and responsibility
> Supports a sense of universal connectedness
>Inspires respect for self and others"

Read full article here.

What are your thoughts on the differential role of religion and spirituality, and the role of yoga in schools? We'd love to hear from you!




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Yoga 4 Classrooms study results are in - learn what researchers report on yoga in classrooms

Thursday, June 06, 2013

We are excited to report about the results of our study, Effects of a Classroom Based Yoga Intervention on Stress & Attention in Second & Third Grade Students, conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Department of Exercise Physiology research team.

The study’s goal was to see if yoga classes in school have an effect on students’ attention span and stress levels - something that teachers reported has improved following a Yoga 4 Classrooms residency. Rigorous tests were used to get scientific data, such as salivary cortisol test as the marker of stress level. In addition, teachers were asked to rate each student on a number of academic, social and emotional outcomes before and after a 10 week yoga intervention. 


Statistically significant improvements were observed in both 2nd and 3rd graders in the areas of ability to be in control of behavior, to manage anger, and creativity. As well, according to the teachers, overall improvements in 2nd and 3rd graders were evident in:

  • social interaction
  • attention span
  • 
ability to concentrate on work

  • ability to stay on task
  • academic performance
  • ability to deal with stress/anxiety

  • confidence and self esteem

Positive significant results also came from the second grade classroom, showing lower cortisol stress response in students after the 10-week classroom yoga residency, which might suggest that students felt less stressful after learning yoga and mindfulness activities in their school.

As with any study, there are limitations and the need for further tests and analyses. Due to the pilot study design, these results do not allow us to attribute the changes in stress response or other characteristics to the yoga classes specifically. Nevertheless, this study is important as it suggests that a long-term practice of mind-body skills positively impacts the stress levels of students, especially at a younger age. 

Read more about challenges facing research on yoga on our blog: Why do we need science to prove the effectiveness of yoga-based programs in education? and Bridging yoga practice and scientific research. 

To learn more on the science of yoga and mindfulness, visit our Supporting Research page, Garrison Institute’s Research Database, and IAYT website.

The poster with the study's results will be presented at the Symposium for Yoga Research (SYR) organized by the International Association of Yoga Therapists on June 11-13, 2013 in Boston, MA. Y4C team is proud to participate in the SYR for the 3rd year in a row. Taking place on June 11-13, 2013 in Boston, MA, this symposium brings together the researchers, practitioners, teachers, students and policy makers for a dialogue and support in the field yoga therapy. One of the highlights of the conference will be Plenary Presentation: An Overview of Research on Yoga for Youth by Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa of Harvard Medical School. Lisa Flynn and UML researchers would be happy to connect with you at our study poster presentation - Learn more and register to attend!

We are excited to have taken the first step to test the effects of yoga programming on a number of student outcomes, and looking forward to the next phase of the research. We want to thank the amazing research team at the UMass-Lowell, lead by Dr. Danielle Day and graduate student Adam Potts, for their great work, as well as Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa and his lab for consulting on this project.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to the students, teachers and administration of the Horace Mitchell Elementary School in Kittery, ME, and personally to the school's Principal David Foster, for offering their enthusiastic support along every step of the research process. KMS is dedicated to creating a sustainable school environment to foster children's physical and psychological well-being through the practice of yoga and mindfulness. Lead Yoga 4 Classrooms Trainer Sharon Trull facilitated the implementation of the program in the school and we appreciate your support with conducting this research.

For more on the details of the study, visit our website.




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Defending yoga in schools: what is the controversy all about?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The recent controversy in the Encinitas Union School District in CA brought up a lot of heated discussions and news coverage. A small group of parents recently sued the school for implementing the Ashtanga-based yoga program funded by K. P. Jois Foundation, which they believe “unlawfully promotes religious beliefs, while disfavoring and discriminating against other religions”.  This group of parents claims that yoga instruction in public schools violates California law because it is a form of religious indoctrination.

On the other end of the controversy is a group of parents and supporters of the Ashtanga-based yoga program YES! Yoga for Encinitas Students,  supported by Yoga Alliance. Here's the statement Yoga Alliance issued:

"From our work with the yoga community over the past 13 years, we have interacted with people of many faiths, along with agnostics and atheists, as they engage in the practice and teaching of yoga. We believe that yoga can be taught in a completely secular manner and that children and adults alike can benefit from this transformative practice".

As the yoga in schools movements grows and gains support, all of us in the field need to be aware of the actual facts, underlying reasoning behind any public conflict of the kind, and make informed decisions. With this in mind, we encourage everyone to read as many sources of information as possible to gain clear understanding of the "issue."

Currently, the court case is on break until June 24th. When it reconvenes, we'll be sure to keep you updated.

Here are a few articles that cover the trial and what led to it in great detail:

Yoga trial without resolution, Yoga Alliance
Yoga witnesses: No indoctrination agenda, by Gary Warth, UT San Diego

Yoga Goes On Trial Today: Encinitas Case Pitting Parents Against School Yoga Classes and ‘Religious Indoctrination’, YogaDork blog
Parents Step Up and Sue Encinitas School District Over Yoga Program, YogaDork blog


And a few articles on related issues:

Yoga in Schools Promotes Spiritual Development & it Has Nothing to do With Religion, by Lisa Flynn and Marina Ebert, Elephant Journal
Let's Get it Straight: Yoga in Schools is Not a Religious Practice,
by Lisa Flynn, Elephant Journal
The Encinitas Yoga Case: Yoga is Religious, Only It’s Not,
by Philip Goldberg, Huffington Post


We Want To Hear From You!
What is your opinion of the trial over yoga in schools? Let us know your thoughts!




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Yoga in the schools movement: defining success

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How do you define student success? Can it be positioned as “positive social, emotional, physical, ethical, civic, creative, and cognitive development"? The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Commission on the Whole Child (ASCD, 2007) does think so, and frames education within the context of nurturing the whole child. The movement to include yoga and mindfulness in schools is an important piece of the new paradigm, and we are proud to be a part of it at Yoga 4 Classrooms.

We wanted to share that our program, along with our foundational program, ChildLight Yoga, have been mentioned in the recently published book chapter, “The Yoga in Schools Movement: Using Standards for Educating the Whole Child and Making Space for Teacher Self-Care”, written by Dr. Andrea Hyde of Western Illinois University.

In her chapter, Dr. Hyde offers specific examples of how yoga programs are impacting students, teachers, and communities in K-12 schools across the US, and shows how these programs can become important standards for a wider social transformation. She argues that contemplative education has the potential to improve students’ and educators’ individual well-being, as well as to “eradicate systemic barriers and forces causing oppression in schools and in the wider society”.

Her main point is that the yoga in schools movement should be taken seriously by social and educational advocates because “it has the potential to change the purpose and structure of the unjust institutions” from within. Incorporating yoga into public schools can change the nature of the education, especially because these programs are designed to meet the needs of teachers, counselors, administrators, and students alike, by offering yoga instruction for students, yoga curriculum instruction for both physical education teachers and classroom teachers, and yoga for self-care of school staff.

Dr. Hyde writes: 

ChildLight Yoga, in Dover, NH, will help schools write grants to pay for their modestly priced training for schools to implement the Yoga 4 Classrooms curriculum, which is aligned with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) standards and the CDC’s National Health Education Standards (NHES). This organization acknowledges the goals and purposes of No Child Left Behind: “to expand local control and flexibility of education, to do what works based on scientific research, to have accountability for results, and to have more options for parents”. The point to be taken is that ChildLight helps schools to accomplish these goals; it does not represent efforts in addition to these goals. This is a major rhetorical success for school yoga programs and the specific point at which academics can help the movement.”

Overall, the main argument is that yoga programming in the schools is consistent with the goals schools have in increasing teacher effectiveness and student outcomes. Moreover, yoga programs not only develop, but ‘empower’ teachers in their work. Other important points made are that yoga is not a religious education, but an evidence based practice for increasing strength, flexibility, and balance for the body and the mind.

Defining yoga as “a noncompetitive self-care practice of physical, emotional, and psychological wellness”, Dr. Hyde calls for the transformation of the educational system through the internal change process. Each child, each teacher, each school matter in this grassroots movement toward social change.

Reference:

Hyde, A. M. (2012). The yoga in schools movement: Using standards for educating the whole child and making space for teacher self-care. In J.A. Gorlewski, B. Porfilio, & D.A. Gorlewski (Eds.), Using Standards and High-Stakes Testing for Students: Exploiting Power with Critical Pedagogy (pp.108-126). New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.


To learn more about yoga in schools movement, visit our website here and here.  
For more on research supporting yoga and mindfulness in schools, visit this page, and learn about our own study conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell – stay tuned for a detailed report of the study results coming out next month!




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Research report: bridging yoga practice and scientific research

Monday, May 20, 2013

The most recent peer-reviewed International Journal of Yoga Therapy published by the International Association of Yoga Therapists highlights the dominant idea in the yoga world these days: constructing a collaborative bridge between yoga therapy and scientific research.

Dr. Marshall Hagins of Long Island University and Dr. Sat Bir S.Khalsa of Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital offer their perspective on the importance of conducting research to boost the credibility of yoga as a safe and cost-effective intervention and to provide evidence base required of incorporation of yoga into education and healthcare systems.

Although there are people on both sides of the debate in the yoga community who are either unsatisfied with the current research strategies or imply that yoga is beyond conventional scientific study, these esteemed researchers and yoga advocates enthusiastically state that “the bridge connecting science and yoga therapy is under construction”. And they encourage for that bridge to be a sturdy one.

How does one study the change in health and behavior that occurs as a result of a yoga practice? The gold standard for conducting research in biomedical science is the randomized controlled trial (RCT), where participants are randomly assigned to either a standardized yoga intervention or a control condition (e.g. exercise, or treatment as usual). In addition, case studies, observational research, single subject multiple baseline designs, qualitative investigations, and other strategies are suggested as complementary. These methods are also well established in biomedical research and can provide unique and important information, in addition to being less expensive and complex and easier to perform. However, although these types of research add to the rich tapestry of information providing the clues and insights that can inform the design and execution of subsequent more complex studies, they are limited in establishing the yoga therapy as the main cause for any observed changes in a study.

The authors move on to discuss the issue of securing funding for the research on the effectiveness of yoga. The majority of researchers in this field are scientist-yogis with a personal practice that inspired them to undertake scientific research. Yet obtaining research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is extremely difficult, even with the establishment of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of NIH whose grant proposal review panels include scientists with yoga expertise. NCCAM also recently produced a report on the yoga research, available here.

With these considerations in mind, the same IJYT issue features a systematic review paper discussing the peer-reviewed publications on the yoga in schools research. This report reviews twelve published studies (pilot studies, single cohort studies, as well as RCTs) in which yoga and a meditative competent (breathing practices or meditation) were taught to youth in a school setting.

As stated in the paper: “As there is an increasingly urgent need to develop and test cost-effective, evidence-based wellness programs for youth that can be delivered in school settings, recent school-based interventions that include yoga suggest a link between yoga practice and positive academic, cognitive and psychosocial outcomes… Participation in a yoga program was associated with decreased body dissatisfaction, anxiety, and negative behavior and increased perceived self-concept and emotional balance”.

At Yoga 4 Classrooms, we also believe that although the primary goal of traditional school programming may be academic education, the skills such as coping with stress and tools for maintaining physical and emotional health are invaluable both in and outside of the classroom.

With these findings, the authors of the report conclude that although showing generally supportive results, a lack of methodological and statistical rigor, small sample sizes, absence of systematic randomization are the limitations that need to be improved in the future studies. This is consistent with the issues that Drs. Hagins and Khalsa addressed in their article. For more on this topic, view our past blog post, Why do we need science to prove the effectiveness of yoga-based programs in education.

But even with these challenges, the field is still growing and expanding, thanks to the efforts of researchers, editors and thought leaders, such as IAYT board members and CEO John Kepner, who have promoted the value of the science of yoga across multiple platforms, such as research conferences.

Upcoming in June 2013, the annual Symposium on Yoga Research (SYR) and the Symposium of Yoga Therapy Research (SYTAR) are both taking place in Boston, MA, providing a forum for the latest scientific research on yoga for researchers and therapists to present recent findings, interact with colleagues and develop collaborations and initiatives.

The bridge between yoga practice and science is not being built overnight, but the foundation is being well laid, and certainly we will all continue to contribute to it brick by brick.




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Mindfulness in Education: Foundation for Teaching and Learning

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mindfulness: Foundation for Teacher and Leaning was the title of the conference organized by the Mindfulness In Education Network, that took place this March at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. 

This three-day event explored the uses of mindfulness in education based on the growing research evidence that mindfulness enhances learning and attention for both children and adults. Many educational institutions, including UCLA, Stanford, UCSF, and PENN have embraced mindfulness as an educational intervention by introducing it into their curricula and conducting research in the field.

Among the researchers and educators in the field were Jon Kabatt-Zinn, the founding director the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Arthur Zajonc,the president of Mind and LIfe Institute, Lisa Flook, a research scientist at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds a the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chip Wood and Pamela Siegle of the Center for Courage and Renewal, and many others.

A great blog post about the conference and the diverse perspectives on furthering mindfulness in education has been written HERE.

The 2014 conference is being scheduled in the Spring of 2014 at American University in Washington, DC. We hope you'll join us in participating in this educational, rejuvenating professional development opportunity for educators and others interested in learning more about contemplative practices in education.

To join the Mindfulness in Education Listserve (highly recommended!), send a blank email to: MiEN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com




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Yoga 4 Classrooms expands its online professional development offerings to bring yoga and mindfulness tools to more educators

Saturday, March 02, 2013

There is no replacement for attending a workshop or training in person as the experience is always going to be more interactive, engaging, informative and beneficial. However, for educators and schools who are out of range of a qualified trainer or otherwise unable to attend a workshop in person, online / self-study options can provide a wonderful alternative for professional development.

In an effort to bring the tools of yoga and mindfulness to more school professionals, parents and students, Yoga 4 Classrooms now offers 3 online training opportunities:

1) 10 Tips to Bringing Yoga in Schools: One Hour On Demand Webinar
Hosted by Kids' Yoga Academy

Lisa Flynn, founder of ChildLight Yoga and Yoga 4 Classrooms and author of the Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck (published in 2011) and Yoga for Children (Adams Media, May 2013), leads webinar participants through must-know tips and techniques for organizing and implementing a successful school yoga program. Best practices for approaching schools, appropriate curriculum, lessons learned and “secrets to success” are shared from her extensive experience working in school settings. In addition, attendees receive three classroom friendly lesson plans which illustrate her advice and experience as well as help on how to address “the religion question.”

If you are a kid’s yoga teacher, educator, school counselor, or other school professional, this webinar is for you. If you hadn’t considered bringing yoga and mindfulness education into the school setting, you will not only be motivated to do so from this webinar, but you will be armed with the right preparatory tools.

Rated as "highly recommended" by 100% of those who attended the live webinar recording.

"Great info from people who actually do the work. Thanks!"
"Professional and interesting presentation!"
"Wow, thanks for all the tips!"


Tuition: $29 USD, Includes BONUS resources  and is valid for .5 CEUs.

REGISTER NOW


2) Online Professional Development Workshop for Individual Educators
Similar to the on location workshop, this online / self-study alternative is designed for K-12 classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors, phys ed teachers, school nurses, health educators, therapists, paraprofessionals and other school professionals seeking to bring simple yoga and mindfulness techniques into their work with children for a more peaceful, productive class day. 



100% of online workshop attendees agreed that the material learned in this workshop will be beneficial to them both personally and professionally, as well as beneficial to their students.

In addition, an overwhelming 95% of attendees stated that they feel prepared to implement the Y4C® activities in their professional routine after the online workshop.
 Read what previous participants have said about the online format here.

Tuition: $199
Includes Online Training, 230 pg, full-color, fully illustrated manual, Y4C Card Deck, shipping (addt'l charges apply to locations outside of continental U.S.), certfiicate of completion and possible CEU's from your credentialing organization.

LEARN MORE


3) New! Online Professional Development Workshop for School Staf
f

As an alternative to the On-Site Staff Professional Development Workshop facilitated in person by a Licensed Y4C Trainer, a video-based format is now available to schools located in an area where a Licensed Y4C Trainer is not presently available.

This online workshop can be completed in one full day by viewing 18 video segments (5 hours) in a group setting on a projector screen. Alternatively, week-long access can be granted to all school staff members such that they can view the video segments individually at their convenience. At the end of the viewing, the group will gather for an interactive follow-up Q&A session online with Lisa Flynn, the Founder and Director of Yoga 4 Classrooms or with another qualified Y4C Trainer.

The workshop utilizes the 230 pg, fully-illustrated, full-color Yoga 4 Classrooms Manual, ensuring the program is both easy to use and sustainable for long-term use. A Yoga 4 Classrooms Program Manual must ordered for each classroom teacher and specialist attending the workshop. Though not required, it is also highly recommended that the Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck be ordered for each classroom. School discounts are available for quantity orders of each item.


LEARN MORE


Whether you are just beginning thinking about incorporating yoga and mindfulness tools in your own work with children, or ready to implement the program in your school, we have an option for you, on location or online. Please visit www.yoga4classrooms.com for a full spectrum of our trainings or contact us directly so that we can assist you in choosing the best option for your particular interests and location.




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Garrison Institute assembles a comprehensive database of contemplative education programs

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Yoga 4 Classrooms is honored to be a part of the Contemplative Education Program Database, featuring most of the well-developed and proven programs in the field.

The Garrison Institute's Contemplative Teaching and Learning Initiative (CTL) developed this database of US and Canadian K-12 contemplative education programs in order to encourage networking between programs;enable educators to locate contemplative education programs in their geographic area; allow funders, researchers and the media to track the growth of the field of contemplative education; and assist researchers and graduate students in identifying programs to study.

Guided by a distinguished leadership council composed of leading educators and scientists, CTL identifies, convenes and networks field leaders, hosting cutting-edge professional gatherings and offering actual and virtual hubs for exchanging information among researchers, educators, policymakers and funders. Garrison's CTL disseminates their work widely through presentations, published reports and studies, journal articles and other media.

LEARN MORE about the contemplative education field our recent article reflecting on the Garrison Institute’s symposium “The art and science of contemplative teaching and learning: exploring ways of knowing” that took place in November 2012. You can also watch the videos from the symposium to get a feel for it and get as inspired as we were to be a part of the contemplative education movement.

Interested in joining the contemplative education movement by implementing yoga and mindfulness curriculum in your classroom and other education settings?  Learn about Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshops and Trainer Intensives.




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Practicing Peace Breath to help children cope with school tragedy

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This may be a tough week for schools and students around the US. The news of the shooting tragedy in Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT is horrifying to anyone, and although the feelings of sadness, empathy and compassion are prevalent and natural responses, so are the feelings of anger, helplessness and fear.

To help empower children (and ourselves) to ease feelings of helplessness, we would like to recommend starting each school day this week with PEACE BREATH: sending peace and love to the children and families of Newtown, CT, and to the world. This exercise could be done in the classroom or over announcements with your entire school.

Peace Breath activity is one of 67 from the Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck. The instructions on the card are simple and easy to follow - we hope you will use this wonderful tool and share it with anyone in need of a helpful guide to managing the myriad of emotions associated with such tragedy. Peace Breath inspires self-regulation while generating immense compassion, connectedness and community with the power to help heal ourselves and the world.

Many blessings to the Sandy Hook and Newtown, CT community, to the beautiful children they have lost and to the many heroes who tried to protect them. Our thoughts of peace and compassion are with you.





We would like to also share other useful resources on how to help children cope with frightening news:

CASEL: Explaining and Coping with School Violence

PBS Parents:
Talking with Kids About News [ages 6-8]

National Association of School Psychologists:


Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers K-12

Helping Children Cope with a Crisis

Helping Children with Disabilities Cope with a Crisis


BAM Radio Network:
Coping with School Tragedies: What do we do now?




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