As time goes on, the world is becoming more and more aware of how important our wellness and mental health is. Whether this is through the raising of awareness of the negative impacts of stress, or an increase in understanding of factors that can affect our mental state. However, mental health has been typically ignored in the school curriculum.
Unless we had super-aware parents, mental health is something that a lot of us aren’t taught to think about and usually stumble upon somewhere along our journey.
One thing I'm sure a lot of us can agree on is that if we could change one thing about our yoga process, it would be finding it earlier! If you practice yoga yourself, you will know that the benefits are truly astounding. Yoga is a holistic spiritual practice that promotes a sense of care for all parts of your mind, body and soul. Studies have also repeatedly proved that yoga increases your ability to deal with stress.
But stress isn’t an adult-only issue. The ability to deal with stress before it becomes a problem is hugely beneficial to children too.
Most schools focus on the teaching of lots of information, and then students being examined on it. However, there is very little in the average curriculum that focuses on the importance of developing as a loving and caring human; No subjects that explore how to look after yourself, (inside and out) as well as the world we live in.
Now more than ever, we should be teaching the younger generation that caring for your mental health and general wellbeing is one of the most important things.
Incorporating yoga into the daily school routine instils a discussion that can and should be had too: What is the impact of looking after and simply listening to your body? These are skill sets that can change the way children move through life, allowing them the understanding that it is worth taking a moment to reflect before reacting and teaching them how to be present in a world that is constantly moving.
Let’s explore some of the major benefits of including yoga in a child’s learning:
Through yoga, comes the regulation of the breath, the body, and - over time - the mind. Breathing alone can have a huge effect on our emotions. Simply focusing on breathing techniques can help children relax when under pressure, such as in an exam or at a time when their emotions get the better of them.
The promotion of mindfulness can increase their positivity and change their attitude to everyday life. This can benefit them outside of school too. Being able to monitor and become aware of their behaviour, attention and emotions can effectively teach them how to make better choices and show up for others around them.
The physical practice goes beyond stretching and strengthening the muscles. It also has the ability to improve posture, focus, and breath. It is a body-positive and accessible practice that meets a child at their comfort level and allows them to work within their own physical capabilities.
Breathing through difficult asanas also provides children with the opportunity to practice techniques that can be used for other difficult situations in life - when experiencing pain, or when feeling frustrated, stressed or angry. Feeling through these emotions on the mat offers a safe space to prepare for any difficult situations that may show up in life.
With the mindfulness of yoga, comes the improvement of attention, memory and focus. All of these things are positives to teaching yoga at schools, not only during the practice but also continuing to help children during their school day.
Yoga takes patience and focus. These attributes can translate to school work, giving children a better understanding of how to concentrate and effectively, have a better learning experience.
Resilience (stress, anxiety, tension)
Stress is relative and although stress will always be part of our lives, in one way or another, yoga can help children to learn early on, how to deal with it. Yoga can build up their resilience to stress, teaching children how to cope with tough times through school and life in general.
School can be incredibly stressful for children, so teaching them ways to handle and manage life's stresses can help massively in their school work and development, as well as in later life.
Schools can be a stressful environment for children and teachers. A constant, non-stop pace with things happening all of the time. Getting this time to breathe, move and reflect can have just as big an impact on the teacher as it can the pupils.
This in turn can affect not only the teaching but the teacher's response and reactions to problems that arise throughout the day.
What do you think? Should yoga be part of the curriculum?