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Yoga Goes Back to School

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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?

Get involved:

Want to donate to Headstand? Visit www.headstand.org/donate.html

Want to know more? Visit www.headstand.org

Nora Isaacs is a Bay Area-based health writer and editor.