I discovered yoga nearly 10 years ago in a required physical education class in college. I was stressed out, confused, and was just starting to learn how to be out in the world on my own. School is all about preparing for the future, and I had become completely unable to enjoy the present moment. I tried too hard. I was constantly disappointed in my performance. I was a complete wreck. It sounds unbelievable, but in one semester of yoga, I made leaps and bounds toward changing all of that. (Read more about my first yoga experience here.)
For many of us, August marks the start of a new school year. Even though it's been a few years since I've been a student, this time of year still feels like a fresh start to me. Wouldn't it be amazing if more students had a year full of excitement, learning, AND yoga to look forward to?
I wish every student could benefit from yoga in the way that I did when I was in school. So here's my list of reasons why yoga should be taught in schools.
1. Teaching kids to manage stress will help them in all areas of their lives. School can be incredibly stressful. Teaching kids to handle this stress through movement and meditation will help them through all areas of their lives--even long after they graduate.
2. Childhood obesity is an epidemic. Helping our kids develop body-mind awareness now might help them to make healthier choices throughout their lives. (And just think of how much better off families would be if the kids then brought that mindfulness home and shared it with their parents!)
3. Increased focus means better learning. It takes a lot of intense focus to learn to balance in Tree Pose. Learning to focus on poses can help students understand how to focus on their schoolwork, too.
4. Resilience to bullying. I'm not naïve enough to believe that teaching kids yoga will solve all their problems, but I do believe yoga encourages people to love themselves and embrace the things that make them unique. This probably won't make the bullying stop, but it might make kids more resilient to bullies.
5. Research proves it. A 2003 California State University, Los Angeles study found that yoga improved students' behavior, physical health and academic performance, as well as attitudes toward themselves.
Is yoga a part of the curriculum in your school system? Do you think it should be?