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Yoga Recess Day Inspires Ohio Educator to Design a Yoga and Mindfulness Week for Her School

Sunday, February 15, 2015

To help combat the winter blahs, I decided to design a yoga-focused winter Field Day. Many teachers and students in our building had already learned about Yoga 4 Classrooms so a yoga-themed spirit day felt like a natural fit. When I realized that I could not pack all the desired events into a single day, I changed my vision to a week-long yoga and mindfulness celebration culminating with Yoga Recess Day. Yoga Health Foundation sponsors Yoga Recess Day and Yoga 4 Classrooms is a proud educational partner of the annual event.

How did I make it happen? First, I secured the support of my building principal as well as our school's parent group. I worked hard to keep my plans financially feasible since resources were limited. Using my Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck, I designed a week of themed days based on the Be Well cards. I focused on fun, kid-friendly yoga and mindfulness activities which would fit easily into the existing curriculum.

Daily themes included:

Day One: "Unity/Connection" 
Day Two: "Kindness" 
Day Three: "Positivity" 
Day Four: "Love and Friendship" 
Day Five: "Peace"  

Each morning, we shared a reading about the day's focus and a related classroom activity over announcements. Activities included theme and yoga-related online videos that could be played on teachers' interactive white boards and then discussed in the classrooms. Our library's window wall showcased a daily theme-related poster panel to which students contributed throughout the week. Parent volunteers visited individual classrooms to help construct colored-rice mandalas which were hung in our hallways. 

Our week concluded with school-wide Yoga Recess activities in our gymnasium, library, and cafeteria/auditorium. The main activities occurred during the students' already scheduled "special" classes (art, music, gym and library). Lunch featured a healthy eating station sponsored by local organic food supermarket Earth Fare while local musician Zach Friedhof provided entertainment infused with peace, mindfulness and positivity.  

In advance, I provided teachers with an itinerary of events which included time intervals, event and theme descriptions as well as the pertinent video links with descriptions.

Events and activities included:

A Lego display demonstrating our building's interconnectedness
A large Grinch poster highlighting how students helped the Grinch grow a kind heart
Boards featuring students' Random Acts of Kindness
Classroom Affirmation Posters 
Student-created Positivity Stickers 
Student-generated bandages with healing messages to help soothe a “wrinkled” heart 
A large peace sign filled with the thumbprints of each student 
Colorful and intricate rice mandalas created by each classroom 
Individual yoga video sequences, Kid President videos and uplifting music 

On Friday, students engaged in energizing group activities in the gym. Over in the library, activities included gluten-free lavender "play dough," Zen garden sand trays and yoga-themed coloring pages. Students also made their own granola and learned about healthy food options.  

Expenses totaled $150 which the parent group graciously covered. Local media even came out to cover the Friday festivities. As you can imagine, the building was buzzing with excitement!  

Why am I sharing all this? Well, Yoga Recess Day is coming up again on February 27th, 2015! It’s a great time to introduce yoga and mindfulness to winter-weary students and teachers. I hope reading about my experience will encourage you to think about the possibilities for sharing yoga and mindfulness techniques with your own students and school. You can find loads of resources at Yoga 4 Classrooms

Let us know how it goes!

Want to learn more about integrating yoga and mindfulness into your school? 

Shared by Jen Griest-Hayes, a special-education teacher in a self-contained multiple-disabilities unit at Valley View Elementary in Wadsworth, Ohio and a Certified ChildLight Yoga Instructor and Licensed Yoga 4 Classrooms Trainer.

Edited by Amy Taylor, Director of Communications for Yoga 4 Classrooms.

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