The Power of (Yoga on) the Playground

If you are interested in kids  and  education, there is an interesting  Op-ed in today’s New York Times by David Borestein, The Power of the Playground.  

The article describes how educators are taking a fresh look at recess and its importance to learning and social development. Recess is an important learning laboratory where kids not only exercise and blow off steam, but also develop social interactions. Recess, as Borestein notes is, “one of the best predictors of whether kids feel happy in school. [W]hether they feel comfortable and competent during recess.”

Recess can have an ugly side with bullying and social out-casting.  Who hated getting picked last?  In many schools recess has been pushed aside because of safety issues or to increase academic time while at school. The result is that many kids don’t have necessary interactions and physical stimulation which results in positive outlook on education.  How does the child answer the question: “How was your day?”  If recess was non-existent or negative, then the answer will probably be negative.

Playworks, as the author describes, is one solution trying to address recess problems by placing full-time play coaches in schools to help manage recess.  Playworks coaches work on getting all kids involved in activities; help introduce new activities that maximize engagement so that kids are moving more. A lot of people would say, “why manage recess?”  I appreciated the comment that, “What’s curious is that while adults have no problem with counselors guiding children’s play at a summer camp, many feel that kids should be left to their own devices at recess.”

Another aspect of recess I had not thought of was, recess is a social canopy. This is the one time of day that all kids of all ability levels, races, and socio-economic backgrounds come together and play.  It doesn’t happen is economically segregated neighborhoods, so this is the time for all kids to interact.  Isn’t it a good idea to give them a little help?  Adults have hard enough time getting along, shouldn’t we show the kids how to do it right.

Here’s where I think yoga can help. Even a few yoga (callisthenic) exercises on the playground can invigorate the participant, setting off positive hormones that will positively carry over into other activities (like learning).  With yoga you can have 100% participation.  No one is not-selected. No one is waiting a turn.  For 10 or 20 minutes everyone can participate the whole time.  It’s extremely efficient and good for you too.

Kids use yoga to learn mythology, fight pre-test jitters

February 23, 2011 No Comments » Blog
Yoga in a small space
By Judy Fortin
DECATUR, Georgia (CNN) — Fourth-grade teacher Elisabeth Beckwith wants her students at Fernbank Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, to pay attention to a lesson on Greek mythology.

 Fourth-graders at Fernbank Elementary in Decatur, Georgia, practice the “dromedary delight.”
Instead of staring at the board in the front of the classroom, the kids are lying on the floor near their desks practicing yoga. “It’s fun,” says 9-year old Jack Besser. “It gets out the cramps after you’ve been sitting for an hour.”

Besser’s classmate Medha Prakash says the yoga drills help her to concentrate. “It makes me feel calm, relaxed and it gets all the stress out of me.”

Beckwith has linked the symbols of Greek gods to yoga poses, such as down dog and the stork. She’s hoping the students will better retain the material and be re-energized in the middle of the day. “It’s a fun way for them to think about things,” Beckwith says. “You know, it’s healthy for them because they’re getting the breathing right and getting the stretching right.”  .  .  . Read the complete story here.

[Note: Yoga is a really powerful practice that offers many benefits for kids.  I ran across this article while doing some reasearch and wanted to share.  The article does a really nice job of highlighting how yoga can be use in a classroom setting to faciliate learning and help reduce anxiety (pre-test jitters).  Plus the school is in Fernbank outside of Atlanta. They have a great museum nearby with dinosaurs and other wonderful science stuff.  I took my kids there and we had wonderful time.] 

Original Source: CNN

5 Ways Martin Luther King, Jr. and Yoga Go Together

Martin Luther King, Jr. and YogaYoga is a great medium in which to learn, especially for kids who are naturally tactile learners. Yoga activiates our relaxation response, which helps kids become more focused on task and retentive to information presented.

So what’s the connection between Martin Luther King, Jr. and yoga?

Well, with the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) holiday coming up, I thought it would be a good to demonstrate how you can use yoga to teach almost anything. Yoga teachers can incorporate this theme into their kids yoga classes. Educators can bring yoga into the classroom to highlight material taught in class.

O.K., here goes, here are five way that MLK and yoga go together:  

1. Stand-up.  Instruct the students to stand up in Archer or Warrior pose.  MLK believed in core principles of justice, dignity and nonviolence.  While in the pose discuss what it means to stand-up for a principled belief.

2. Sit-down. Instruct the students to sit in Easy or (more difficult) Chair pose.  Those who fought for civil rights often use the tactic of  “sitting down”, whether it be on a bus or lunch counter to demonstrate their right (both civil and human) to belong in public places.  They didn’t think it was right that certain people were denied these rights based on the color of their skin.

 3. Endurance and Committment.  Instruct the students to hold a pose, perhaps Archer, Warrior or Down Dog.  MLK led people on many marches in protest of the lack of rights. He and many others had to endure taunting, hitting and people being mean and hateful to them.  MLK as a leader demonstrated courage and committment to the cause of civil rights by enduring mistreatment.  Can you hold a pose for long time?  Can you endure in the face of resistence?  Can you endure miscomfort beyong what you think you can endure? How did MLK feel and other like him during their struggle?

4.    Ahimsa (non-violence).  Instruct your studentsto Butterfly pose.  Butterflys are gentle and do not  hurt others. MLK preached non-violence. In fact it was the key to his stuggle for freedom. MLK  led protests against injustice, but would not allow his followers to reciproacte against any violence.  They could not fight back no matter what was done to them. He believed that the nonviolent resister does not seek to humiliate or defeat the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.  Where did he get this idea of nonviolent resistence from? MLK borrowed it from Ghandi and the Indian struggle for independece.  Non-violence or Ahimsa is one of the central tenents of yogic philosophy. 

5. I have a dream.  Instruct your students into Yogic sleep.  MLK gave a famous and important speech, called “I have a dream.”  Get a copy of the speech and read excerpts to your students. Discuss what his dream was about.  After Yogic Sleep allow your students to discuss their dreams.

Yoga Should Be Compulsory in Schools: Says Indian MP

by Pratap Chakravarty – Tue Dec 7, 9:25 pm ET

NEW DELHI (AFP) – An MP in India is lobbying for a law that will make yoga compulsory in the country’s junior schools, where he says it will help with discipline, fitness and dealing with “computer-related stress”.

Satpal Maharaj, 59, from the ruling Congress party, said a recent trip to China had inspired him to push for the law, which would take yoga into India’s 217,000 junior schools where children begin their education at around five.

Interestingly he pointed out that, ”Western diseases like computer-related stress have come to India, and yoga at an young age will help reduce these ailments — and besides, it will also encourage children to attend class,” he said.

“We must not think of education only in terms of school examinations,” said Prakash Javadekar, a BJP parliamentarian who backs Maharaj’s project.

“Essential skills for quality life are good habits, discipline, nutrition and physical exercise in various formats,” he told AFP.   To read the entire article, click here.

Original Source: Yahoo News