Yoga 4 Classrooms®

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Yoga 4 Classrooms Blog

Green Teacher Magazine features an article about Yoga in the Classroom

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

We are thrilled to share that Green Teacher magazine published our article about Yoga in the Classroom as the lead feature in their Fall issue. It is exciting that this introduction to teaching yoga in the classroom is presented in the magazine for environmentally conscious educators, dedicated to promoting healthy habits and lifestyle choices among young people.

Here is a note from the Green Teacher Editor, Tim Grant: "The pioneering work that you are doing in promoting yoga in schools is very exciting, and once established in most schools (it is only a matter of time) will have a very positive impact on students, teachers and the learning process. As such, we expect that this article will be much talked about in environmental education circles for years to come".


Our article focuses on practical aspects of implementing yoga and mindfulness curriculum right in the classroom, tips for teaching, sample sequences, as well as offers an overview of pertinent research and educational theory developments.
 
You can access the full article, reprinted with permission, HERE.


"Implementing yogic practices and life-skills in the classroom environment requires a thorough understanding of
children’s emotional, social and spiritual needs, being sensitive to developmental challenges facing them, and mindful to different styles of learning, coping with stress and relating to others.

Contemplative yogic practices
provide tools for learning by helping children develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence, compassion, self-regulation and coping skills, teaching healthy habits and guiding them through movements that optimize their strength, flexibility and balance". Read on...

Also, check out the review that Green Teacher published in their Summer issue about Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck.

Green Teacher is a non-profit organization, publishing a quarterly magazine which offers perspectives on the role of education in creating a sustainable future, practical articles and ready to use activities for various age levels, and reviews of dozens of new educational resources. 

We encourage teachers, counselors and educators to subscribe to the magazine to stay on top of i
ssues promoting environmental awareness and personal mindfulness among children.





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Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck Making a Difference in Botswana - inspiring story from Peace Corps Volunteer

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Yoga 4 Classrooms® Card Deck has been making its way around the world by yoga teachers, school professionals, counselors and many others working with children internationally.

Here is an inspiring story we recently received from Lynn Deutsch, Peace Corps Volunteer working in Botswana, Africa:

"I am a 55 year old Peace Corps Volunteer in the small village of Mmathethe, Botswana.  My primary job here is to infuse a Life Skills Program, and in thinking how I was going to get through to the primary kids, many of whom don't speak English yet, I thought what better way to inspire them than to do life skills via The Yoga 4 Classroom cards.  Having been a Child Psychologist for 21 years, and a Yoga enthusiast, I've always loved the connection between life and yoga, the work done on the mat finding it's shadow in life's situations. 

With these African children bursting with energy, yet having little staying power, possibly due to the lack of nutrients in their diet, this is the perfect venue for them---not only to increase their health, but to instill a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.  With their enthusiasm for the poses, they know that every kid is a winner here!  The kids are practicing poses like Boat and Chair on a daily basis now with the teachers, and when I walk about the village, kids flock to me showing me the poses learned. 

A funny thing happened my first day teaching it: all sorts of kids were peeking in the window, and I was trying gently to shoo them away...well, they were relentless, and I was becoming a bit frustrated with kids outside, and then one kid in the class shouted out--"breathe into the balloon, teacher!" It was so funny, and I guess at least I know that they're absorbing the meaning of what I was trying to teach.

Time will tell how these children will translate yoga to life, but working with them is a pure joy and an experience I'll never forget".

Inspired? You too can be the change!

Perhaps you'd like to support the Africa Yoga Project dedicated to bringing the gift of yoga to multiple communities across Africa. Among other organizations, the Yoga Service Council, Yoga Activist, and the Give Back Yoga Foundation are also promoting yoga service to address the needs of various populations and communities in need of the transformative and healing power of yogic practices.

Do you have a story to share about how you use the Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck or your training in the Yoga 4 Classrooms program? We'd love to hear about it.  Contact us!




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Yoga Activist publishes a blog post about Yoga 4 Classrooms

Friday, September 14, 2012

We are excited to share the latest blog post from the Yoga Activist's Yoga & Our Health column contributed by Jennifer Mueller, Licensed Yoga 4 Classrooms® Trainer.

The outreach work of the Yoga Activist is centered around building connections between qualified yoga instructors, social service providers, government agencies and communities that have little or no access to the science of yoga and its use as a self-empowerment tool. This is accomplished through a national yoga activist database, national and local city chapters working directly in communities, trainings, and through providing educational and fund raising materials.

We encourage you to take a closer look at the work they do in this organization and resources they offer for yoga community, and get as inspired as we are!

Below is a reprint of Jennifer's
Yoga Activist post:

I’ve taught extra-curricular and enrichment yoga classes in a variety of settings: public and private schools, for children just turning 2 to 12 years. In nearly all cases, the teachers I’ve worked with are huge advocates of yoga for their students. Not only do these teachers know their kids enjoy their weekly yoga break, they see the benefits first hand.
 
Among the most often mentioned benefits of yoga for children by their teachers are that yoga:
- relieves tension and stress, something teachers are very concerned about as standardized testing requirements continue to grow,
- increases concentration, focus, and attention span,
- expands imagination and creativity,
- improves ability to be less reactive, more mindful of thoughts, words, and actions,
- builds confidence and self-esteem,
- enhances team skills and social interaction,
- encourages a fit and healthy lifestyle.
 
(Read Yoga 4 Classrooms’ full list of Benefits of Yoga for Children)
 
In you live near D.C., you can join me at the upcoming professional development workshop and learn how to make yoga part of the school day: October 27th from 2-8 p.m. at Christ Church on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
 
Why Yoga 4 Classrooms?

Yoga 4 Classrooms is not studio yoga adapted for a school setting. There’s no pushing aside of desks and chairs; no unrolling of yoga mats; no removing of shoes; and no 30 or 40 minute yoga class. Yoga 4 Classrooms is yoga integrated throughout the school day.
 
Right at their desks, students can bring their body, mind, and breath together using adapted-for-the-classroom yoga postures and developmentally-appropriate mindfulness and meditation exercises. A 30-second breathing exercise can center an entire room. A 2-minute motor break can invigorate and focus a class for a quiz. A 5- or 10-minute activity can relax, distress, enliven, build confidence, create community, and more, depending on the needs of the group and the exercises chosen.
 
Yoga 4 Classrooms is an evidence-based, low-cost, simple, effective and sustainable tool designed for classrooms, which facilitates students’ physical, mental, emotional and social personal growth. Y4C is anchored in well-validated evidence-based classroom pedagogies, developmental science, cross-sectional research in cognitive affective neuroscience, tenets of positive psychology and secular contemplative practices.
 
On October 27, I will host an interactive one-day Yoga 4 Classrooms professional development workshop open to all classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors, phys ed teachers, health educators, therapists and others seeking to bring simple yoga and mindfulness techniques into the classroom or similar setting for a more peaceful, productive class day.
 
We’ll cover a classroom-appropriate mix of yoga-based motor breaks, brain boosting movements, breath exercises, visualizations, mindfulness activities, creative movement and community-building games.  We’ll explore wellness and character-building discussion points such as the power of positive thinking, nutrition and being a peacemaker, which address the whole child and also many school initiatives such as bullying prevention, health and wellness and social and emotional education.
 
Teachers who implement Yoga 4 Classrooms usually report that taking as little as 30 seconds to 5 minutes to practice these simple tools throughout the day helps their class community learn to self-regulate, leading to a more positive, peaceful, productive school day…not to mention happier, more resilient students.
 
Each workshop participant receives a fully-illustrated, full-color Y4C teacher’s manual, ensuring the program is both easy to use and sustainable for long-term use.  No yoga attire or mat will be needed because we will be simulating the classroom setting. Join me on October 27th from 2-8pm at Christ Church on Capitol Hill for the first Yoga 4 Classrooms workshop in Washington, DC.

Jennifer Mueller is a Washington, D.C. yoga instructor (RYT-200, RCYT). Like so many, Jen first came to the yoga mat because of an injury, seeking nothing more than to feel better and balance her body for running. She comes back to the mat because yoga invites her to embrace her body and mind with all its imperfections and then to look beyond them to the greater Self. Jen brings a sense of joy and playfulness to her classes – both the adult and kids classes – and hopes to offer her students the sense of freedom she finds in yoga.




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Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshop accredited by several Universities/Colleges

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

With increasing numbers of gifted Y4C Trainers® joining the yoga in the classrooms movement, the one-day Y4C Professional Development Workshop is reaching even more educators and other school professionals across the country, with ongoing dates and locations in ME, NH, MA, VT, NY, DC, PA, VA, NC, RI, MD and NC.

In addition, we have recently developed new affiliations with the
University of New Hampshire, Antioch University New England in New Hampshire and Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania, where the Y4C Professional Development Workshop is now offered as a CEU approved course at their respective professional  development departments. You can learn about and register for any of these continuing education courses here. 

We are committed to making Yoga 4 Classrooms accessible to all, regardless of location and schedule limitations. Though there is no replacement for an in-person experience, we have launched and online / self-study version of the workshop, so you can study at your convenience.

Curious what others are saying about the Y4C Professional Development Workshop? Read the feedback from the recent workshop held in Reading, MA posted on
Behavioral Health for All blog and more testimonials on our website.




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Yoga 4 Classrooms highlighted in Yoga Journal and other media this month

Saturday, September 08, 2012

 

At the core of our mission is bringing healthy lifestyle, mindfulness skills and physical and psychological flexibility to children as early as possible for a lifetime of wellness. As yoga is gaining its well-deserved place in every domain of adult lives, it's also is making its way to more and more schools!

We are thrilled that Yoga 4 Classrooms® is mentioned in the inspiring and powerful 
Yoga Journal in the October, 2012 issue on page 28, so check out your most recent copy of the journal! Featured organizations also include our friends at Headstand: Yoga Goes to School, Yoga Ed.,Little Flower Yoga, Yogiños: Yoga for Youth™,Shanti Generation, Grounded: Yoga, Laughter, Elevation. Keep on 'being the change'!

Our program was also recently featured for the second time in a great article on Diet in Review.com.

"Unlike a math teacher who can’t so easily transition to teach an English class, yoga can be taught by anyone on staff with the certification. Hundreds of teachers have gained such certifications through Lisa Flynn’s Yoga 4 Classrooms, a program piloted at an elementary school in Maine. After positive feedback and great results, thousands of teachers were inspired to add the practice to their classrooms". Read on...

Learn more about media coverage of Yoga 4 Classrooms program here.

You can also explore the most recent feedback provided by school teachers, counselors, psychologists and other professionals after the Y4C Professional Development Workshop, featured in a comprehensive blog Behavioral Health For All. Below are some of the inspiring quotes from workshop attendees:

“I love how Y4C us designed for everyone and can be integrated seamlessly into the school routine.”  6th Grade Special Education Teacher

“I am a believer in yoga’s benefits, to the whole child, social, emotional, physical, etc.  and I can use Y4C in my curriculum.”  Elementary Health and Physical Education Teacher

 

 




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Online Professional Development Workshop - Y4C Now Offers a Self-Study Option

Thursday, August 09, 2012

We are thrilled to announce the official launch of our Online version of the Yoga 4 Classrooms® Professional Workshop designed for classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors, phys ed teachers, therapists, paraprofessionals and others seeking to bring simple yoga and mindfulness techniques into the classroom or similar setting for a more peaceful, productive class day.

There is no replacement for attending a workshop on location as an in-person experience is always going to be more interactive, engaging, informative and beneficial.  However, for interested parties who are overseas or otherwise unable to attend a workshop in person, this online / self-study option provides a wonderful alternative.

Presented in a video-based format, this 5 hour online workshop is divided into 18 segments to be viewed as is convenient for the participant within one week (additional viewing time available upon request). As they work through the content online, participants have an opportunity to ask questions through email/comment feature.

To maximize the learning experience, virtual attendants will receive the Y4C materials - Manual and Card Deck - by mail before viewing the online presentation. These tools are a must-have for an easy and sustainable implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms curriculum into a school setting.

Online Professional Development Workshop includes:

  • 5 hours of content online
  • Fully-illustrated, full-color, 230 page, Y4C Manual
  • Shipping of materials in the U.S.
  • Certificate of Completion
  • PDPs and/or CEUs from your credentialing organization & possible reimbursement from your school
  • Certificate of Completion

 

Learn more and register here!

Want to attend a traditional workshop facilitated by a licensed Y4C Trainer currently offered in ME, NH, VT, PA, VA, NC, RI, and VT with more to come soon? Take a look at our schedule HERE.

In addition, we are proud to announce that the Yoga 4 Classrooms® Professional Development Workshop is now an approved CEU course on the schedule of the University of New Hampshire Professional Development and Training (Teaching & School Administration). Next workshop is scheduled for Wed, Dec. 12th, 9 - 4 at the Manchester, NH campus.

Join the yoga and mindfulness in the classroom movement by attending the Professional Development Workshop On Location and Online and experience for yourself what others are saying..

To date, over 700 educators, school counselors and other school professionals from across the country have completed the Y4C Professional Development Workshop. 100% of educators agreed that Y4C will be beneficial to them as a teacher and to their students, and 99% that it will benefit them personally as well.  Read the full article here...




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Going beyond the 3 Rs of education towards attention, mindfulness and emotional control

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Recent NPR's Tom Ashbrook's program "On Point" included a great discussion of mindfulness efforts in education, with guests from both research and practical application ends. An hour long radio show focused on how cultivating mindfulness among students within the framework of a school curriculum allows to train the minds and "mold kids brains" to help them in their positive growth, successful learning and lifelong wellness.

The overarching theme is the "fundamental rethinking of what education should be", by going beyond the traditional curriculum known as three Rs and including teaching perseverance, self-control, and mindfulness at school. Touching upon the extant research in neuroscience, Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, PhD, explains how mindfulness is related to stress reduction, executive function and inhibitory control/self-regulation, which have become mainstream topics in education-related dialogues these days.

One of the guests is Ingrid Wickelgren, an editor at Scientific American Mind, and we highly recommend her comprehensive upcoming article on the issue, titled  “The Education of Character: Scientists, politicians and celebrities are remaking schools as gyms for the brain where teachers build the mental brawn for attention, perseverance and emotional control.”

The show is quite engaging and lively due to its interactive set up. Callers bring up very hot and relevant questions for the program's guests to discuss. Among those are the relationship between mindfulness and school prayer; the longevity of an in-classroom positive mind-training ( "not a 5-minute thing here and there"); the tendency among parents to delegate their responsibility of launching and supporting the character education in their children to school professionals. Concerning the last issue, the consensus among speakers was that schools can put children who are not well-supported emotionally at home into the framework for learning and prepare them for the rigors of academics and life. However, the importance and power of parents in fostering positive development and resilience in children is emphasized.

One of the points made in the program regarding the popular concept of social-emotional learning is understanding the importance of its larger context: being a good citizen, developing gratitude, taking perspective, cultivating compassion. At the Yoga 4 Classrooms®, we can relate to that with our core curriculum component Be Well.

Another great point brought up was regarding the involvement of the parents and the whole school ( if not the whole school district) in the mindfulness-based program, creating a community through a sense of ownership, common language, support network and thus increasing the sustainability and effectiveness of the program. Indeed, this is supported in its core by the four components of the Yoga 4 Classrooms, which work synergistically to implement the program and ensure its longevity for a lifetime of health and wellness.

Although focused mostly on the program called MindUp and its efficacy research studies, this radio show touches upon a very wide-spread notion in contemporary education, which is also the focus of many other organizations. One such program, Inner Kids, postulates the "new ABCs – Attention, Balance & Compassion". Other notable organizations are International Association for School Yoga & Mindfulness (IASYM), Consciousness-Based Education Association, Mindful Schools, although there are many more!

For scientific publications referenced in the radio program and related to the topic of discussion, you can click here and here. Learn more about scientific research behind yoga and mindfulness in the schools on our webpage.




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Yoga Service: bringing yoga to schools where it's needed most - Rob Schware's interview with Debbie Cohen

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rob Schware, the Executive Director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation and President of the Yoga Service Council,  presents his interview with Debbie Cohen, of the Core Yoga, in an article “Yoga: How We Serve Inner-City Schoolchildren” today on Huffington Post. 

The Core Yoga in Schools Program provides yoga instruction in the Boston public schools. Debbie Cohen is an author of Journey to Inner Space: A Children's Yoga Book and has collaborated on research projects with Kripalu Institute of Extraordinary Living Yoga in the Schools Project and Tufts-NE Medical Center.

We found it quite inspiring and assuring that Debbie Cohen mentions and defeats the assumptions regarding the school funding situation. At Yoga 4 Classrooms®, we had similar experiences with the myths about inability to get funding for yoga program implementation in the schools. Yet we found that schools are often quite receptive when approached with a yoga-based program proposal. As Debbie states, the greatest challenge has been “overcoming reluctance to fundraise to support the work”, yet she “simply moved forward anyway”.

We love the ideas shared in this interview on adapting the yoga practice for age groups and different populations, and the open-minded perspective needed to feel comfortable teaching in various contexts. Debbie’s own example of learning to “dance the yoga”, to “practice pranayama in rhythm to a song with a slow, steady beat”, and to creating the yoga pose posters to “attain greater clarity with fewer words” is showing a wonderful way to be really in tune and thus relate better to her students.

Rob Schware concludes the interview with a question about the greatest hopes for the development of a service yoga community, which receives a simple and grounded answer: “That everyone serves with an open heart”.

Read full interview here.

To read other interviews by Rob Schware in his series on yoga service and giving back to underserved or un-served populations visit his Huffington Post blog.

We applaud the work done by many other wonderful organizations giving back to community by bringing yoga to youth in schools where it's needed the most: Wellness Works in Schools, Inner Kids Program, Yoga in Schools, Yoga Calm, Yoga Ed, Bent on LearningGrounded for Good, Yoga ActivistWellness Initiative, Off the Mat Into the World, Get Ready to Learn, Yoga Recess in Schools, Newark Yoga Movement among others.

Yoga 4 Classrooms continues to support such initiatives, working in collaboration with researchers, similar programs and certainly the Yoga Service Council. See our Affliations page here to learn more. 




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Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card deck will be offered as one of the prizes for the Tree Pose Campaign Summer 2012!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yoga 4 Classrooms® and ChildLight Yoga are excited to participate in the 
Tree Pose Campaign 

co-organized by our friends at Playful Planet, OMazing Kids and Radiant Child Yoga this summer.

We challenge you to take pictures of your kids at your summer vacation travels doing the tree pose
and upload them to Tree Pose Campaign Facebook Page.

Each week for 4 weeks, you the fans will vote on your favorite photo of the child's Tree Pose to determine a winner of a weekly prize brought to you by one of the co-organizers, including the Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck!

Have fun and spread the word! We are looking forward to seeing all those cute pictures and sharing the joy of yoga with your families!

 Need some help with instructions on how to do the tree pose? Here is the Yoga 4 Classrooms card deck to aid you:

1. Begin in Mountain pose with hands together in front of the heart. Find an unmoving object to create a "focus point".

2. When you are ready, shift your weight to your left foot and turn your right knee out to the side. Rest your right heel on your left ankle, keeping your toe on the floor. Or, try lifting your right foot up to rest at the side of your calf.

3. Grow your arm branches up to the sky. Arms are straight, with shoulders down away from the ears. Hands can be apart or together.

4. Balance in tree pose for a few deep breaths.

5. Great Job! Now do the Tree Pose on the other side - and don't forget to take those fabulous pictures to enter the CONTEST to win a prize.

Tree Pose picture above is part of the Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck - learn more on our website!




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Contemplative education in 21st century - state of current research

Thursday, July 12, 2012

 

It is exciting to report that last month’s scientific journal Child Development Perspectives devoted its Special Section to Mindfulness Training in Education and Child Development, with five publications reporting on  the issues at the intersection of education, contemplative science and child development.

The overarching theme of this special issue is the necessity of “setting the stage for synergistic collaboration between scientific research on contemplative practice and educational programs designed to foster the cognitive, emotional, social and ethical development of 21st century youth”. Collectively, the papers highlight the need for systematic, adapted practices, which have the potential to induce desirable and positive plastic changes in the developing brains, and call for more focused programmatic research of various practices being implemented in school settings.

This catchy title - contemplative science - has become a cloud term for mindfulness, meditation and yoga research-based practices, which are gaining popularity and scientific validation across many domains, including education, as obviously of particular interest to us at the Yoga 4 Classrooms®. Read our related article on the importance of scientific research in the field of yoga and education here.

Researchers from the Mind and Life Education Research Network published in this Special Section of CDP boldly declare which mental skills and socioemotional dispositions they believe are central to the aims of education in 21st century: cognitive-emotional regulation skills, self-representation and prosocial skills, such as empathy and compassion. With Mind and Life Institute being the leading multidisciplinary intellectual forum dedicated to exploring issues at the intersection of mind, brain, education and contemplative practice, and its core member Richard Davidson being the key figure in contemporary affective and more specifically contemplative neuroscience field, this recommendation cannot be taken too lightly.

According to the researchers published in this issue of Child Development Perspectives, promoting positive youth development through the concept of Social-Emotional learning (SEL) is an important, but not a sufficient step towards improvements in the school culture. An array of transdisciplinary studies explores the prospects for designing age-appropriate forms of secular contemplative trainings that “scaffold the development of executive function, emotion regulation, empathy, and compassion” among children and teachers in educational settings. Incorporating yoga-based programs in educational settings provides complementary and value added benefits beyond such skills-based programs in that it offers a deeper habitual cultivation of lifelong skills promoting well-being in both teachers and children.

Scientists, practitioners and professionals alike state that yoga and mindfulness practices offer a unique combination of activities that work synergistically to address these core issues in the domains of social-emotional learning, self-awareness, coping and resilience, - and thus are well-suited for implementation in the school curriculum. At the Yoga 4 Classrooms, we could not agree more!

Marina Ebert, MA is a ChildLight Yoga Instructor and serves as Director of Research and Relationship Development for Yoga 4 Classrooms. She also is a research assistant at Khalsa Yoga Research Lab at Brigham and Women's Hospital.




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