Yoga Is The Cure-All For Schools, and Maybe Even The World.
Gopala Amir Yaffa - Rainbow Kids Yoga
I started my yoga journey of teaching yoga to children in 1995 and have taught in various schools and educational settings since 2000. In 2007 I began training teachers to teach yoga to children through our Rainbow Kids Yoga teacher trainings now available both in-person and online worldwide.
I have seen yoga transform both individuals, classrooms and communities through the yoga I offered. Yes, yoga has a lot more benefits beyond the obvious ones of becoming more flexible and fit.
- Improves strength and flexibility
- Increases self-confidence and builds a positive self-image
- Increases emotional resilience
- Nourishes creativity
- Helps to balance the body and mind
- Teaches self-acceptance and self-love
- Increases sensory awareness and general body awareness
- Builds coordination and balance
- Expands self-awareness, and awareness of others
- Develops self-discipline and self-control
- Builds concentration
- Helps us to stand more erect and feel taller by supporting a long and flex spine
- Fortifies all bodily systems; the skeletal, nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, hormonal and muscular systems. And improves our understanding of anatomy
- Increases awareness of breathing and deepens the breath
- Is non-competitive
- Expands awareness of nature, animals and the environment
- Helps children build inner strength
- Encourages cooperation and teamwork
- Teaches how to relax and reduce stress
- Encourages compassion, generosity, and respect
- Teaches how to find inner peace
- Yoga is fun!!!
Yoga is much more than yoga poses; it is a way to discover our bodies and more broadly, our inner world. As human beings, we experience the universe through our minds and our hearts, so being able to consciously relax, uplift and focus ourselves are vital abilities. It is never too early (or too late) to embark on this journey of self-discovery!
Specifically at schools, yoga can be used for:
- Starting the day positively
- Reducing stress and relax
- As a tool to focus, refocus or prepare for study/exam
- Combating social issues such as bullying and disrespect to teachers and among peers by bringing people together with Rainbow Yoga
- Yoga can be used to teach absolutely anything by learning through movement and experiential learning
Yoga can be adapted as a mode of teaching and learning just about anything! What better way is there to explore a subject than to move through it using creative yoga poses that are so good for you? History, geography, science, literature, math, geometry and languages can all be learnt in this supportive and encouraging environment. In this way, yoga can support any topic in the curriculum.
In this way, yoga is a holistic practice, with an inner as well as an outer focus. But most importantly for children, yoga is fun!
Vegetables are good for you, but what will you do with them if you don’t have the teeth to chew them? Blend them, juice them, mush them or make a soup of course! It is the same with children’s Yoga; you’ll need to start from where they are developmentally and deliver the program in a way that can be easily digested, accepted and understood by them. That’s what we teach at our Rainbow Kids Yoga trainings!
When I approach schools I like to present yoga to them by saying that it is a magical Cure-All medicine for all of their issues…
Inactivity (it causes depression by the way) and child obesity?
YOGA, and especially Rainbow Yoga which can be so active!
Stress and exam anxiety?
YOGA again with its many tools for relaxation and stress relief.
Attention deficit and issues with focusing and studying?
Yes! YOGA and mindfulness of course.
Social problems and bullying?
RAINBOW YOGA to the rescue! Our yoga is social and interactive and brings people together.
It’s a winner!
Yoga can be shared on yoga mats in the school hall or gymnasium OR be done in the classroom even without moving the chairs and tables!
Some schools do not have the space or the budget to have weekly yoga classes, and even in places that do have regular yoga sessions the benefits of yoga can penetrate much more deeply and be greatly enhanced if they become a part of the students’ daily routine in the classroom. So yoga can be taught as a whole class of anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour, or as a minute or two sequence to relax, tune into class, take a stretch break or re-focus.
At some schools, in just a couple of hours each week, I reach every single student there by sharing just a few minutes of yoga and mindfulness tools that the teachers and students will be able to use right there and then but also whenever needed to destress, energise, focus, feel better in their body and enjoy learning more!
Small changes in the way kids sit and breathe can make a big difference in their ability to stay focused and to learn. A couple of stretches and a few deep breaths every hour can help greatly in keeping the kid’s positive attention throughout a class.
One of the coolest elements about doing yoga in the classroom environment is using all the things that are already there such as the chairs (Chair Yoga), the table the whiteboard and even objects from our school bags. You can blow on a piece of paper from the students’ notebooks for breathing exercises. You can even use a pencil for breathing by rolling it on your desk with your breath! The whiteboard can be used for an array of games such as Yoga Pictionary, Yoga 21 Questions and many more.
So again, even in classroom settings where we cannot move the tables and chairs and put down our yoga mats on the floor, we can still:
- Stretch and do yoga poses
- Use guided imagery and relax
- Be mindful and Meditate
- Positively interact with the other students in the class
In this way, we make yoga normal and approachable and we help teachers and children alike realize that we can use yoga anywhere and anytime to help us feel better and cope better with our busy and demanding lives at school and beyond!
It is undeniable that kids have stress in their lives and one of the most stressful places they spend a lot of time in is school. The endlessly increasing spirit of competition and achievement, the social struggle, busy schedules and very stressed out role models (teachers and parents) make the children’s lives a constant struggle.
Schools are supposed to be an environment that supports the kids in their growth and study, but it is long proven that stress is a factor that inhibits this development.
The competitive and goal-oriented nature of most schools creates social phobias, exam anxiety and even insomnia. The non-competitive spirit of yoga and the focus on self-wellbeing, as well as the well-being of your environment, can help cure some of those negative effects of the current dominating school system because yoga offers tools to imbibe skills that can create a healthier and well-adapted future generation.
Kids learn through example and having stressed-out teachers will only create stressed children even if they are screamed at a hundred times a day to relax! So ideally, this is a community effort that both teachers and students can embark on together and if we could give school teachers yoga tools to sprinkle in their classrooms throughout the day we will also have better role models for the kids to look up to and imitate.
We all want to see a better and brighter future for humankind on our beautiful planet earth, and the change we want to see in the world starts with EDUCATION.
To see the change that we all know is needed in this world, it is essential to enrich the next generation with resilience, kindness and love. It is literally from inner peace, all the way to world peace. We can do it! The change starts here with you and me.
Let’s make the world a better place, together, one child at a time.