Stories about yoga in schools come across my desk all the time--maybe a weekly class after school, a teacher coming for a visit, or a rotation during gym class. But Headstand, a nonprofit with programs in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, Texas really caught my eye: The folks behind Headstand have created a comprehensive 40-week curriculum that meets the state's standards for physical education, making it a mandatory part of the curriculum. They currently have programs in three schools, with a full-time, Headstand-trained, staff yoga teacher at each.
So far, the pilot program is operating in 3 KIPP schools, which are free, open-enrollment academic charter schools in underserved communities; the yoga programs range from elementary to middle schools, depending on the location.
Headstand founder Katherine Priore, who teaches at KIPP San Lorenzo, California, told me a few things her kids have passed along about yoga's impact: One boy said that when he gets really mad, he now uses his new mantra "yoga breaths, yoga breaths" and calms down. And recently, a fifth grader told her after Savasana: "I really think that was life-changing!"
Along with San Francisco-based yoga teacher Stephanie Snyder, Headstand is working on a new curriculum. Sounds simple. But yoga can be so hard to define, much less systematize.
We want to know:
What do you think are the most important yoga principles to teach children?
What do you wish you knew about yoga that might have helped you in school?
Nora Isaacs is a Bay Area-based health writer and editor.