Classes for Children and School Teachers
My ethos: To bring about a sense of physical and mental well-being to our children providing and empowering them with the tools to survive and thrive in daily life.
I am working with schools providing after school Yoga sessions for pupils. I am also available for ‘drop-down’ days and have provided Yoga sessions as part of such as ‘Well-being days’. During school holidays I work with organisations such as Fun4YP, part of YMCA Bedfordshire to provide Yoga as one of the activities offered to those who access their holiday clubs.
Having been a school teacher for 15 years I have witnessed first-hand the effects of anxiety, stress and depression in pupils that is manifesting itself due to rising demands, life situations and social media. I wish to offer schools the opportunity to experience the benefits of Yoga for their pupils and the positive effects it has on wellbeing, attitude, behaviour and pupil learning.
How does the practice of Yoga and mindfulness help?
Good mental health as well as physical health is finally being recognised as crucial to our overall well-being. 10% of children have a diagnosable mental health disorder. 50% of mental illnesses begin before age 14. (Young Minds UK)
Mental and Emotional Benefits of Yoga and mindfulness:
- Calming and relaxing
- Emotionally balancing
- Behaviour regulating – Executive functioning and self-regulation
- Focus and concentration increase – Optimises ability and desire to learn
As children develop they are learning to integrate their ‘downstairs’ and ‘upstairs’ brain. The two do not come ready melded. The ‘downstairs’ brain deals with primitive, basic survival needs, base emotions and memory. The ‘upstairs’ brain develops higher-order functions such as thinking, imagining, planning and reasoning. This area of the brain is still under construction and is not fully formed or integrated with the ‘downstairs’ brain until around the age of 23. Through the practices of Yoga and mindfulness we can help this part of the brain to develop and to integrate better with the ‘downstairs’ brain rather than it being ‘hijacked’ and taken over by the basic survival needs that the ‘downstairs’ brain deals with. In other words, it enables our young people to better put into practice their ‘thinking before acting’ skills rather than heading towards ‘fight or flight’.
When a person is anxious, stressed or depressed they are relying on their sympathetic nervous system – fight or flight – and all energy is focused on the immediacy of saving oneself from the threat of the presented situation. This raises both muscle tension and cortisol levels and makes relaxation and calmness impossible. Through the practices of Yoga and mindfulness we are able to control this and therefore access the para-sympathetic nervous system better.
Yoga also enables better links between the left and right brain. The right brain deals with the holistic, non-verbal, feelings, emotions, sensations, memories and images. The left is concerned with the logical, literal, linguistic and literal. Very young children are right-brain dominant and have not yet developed their ability to utilise logic and language to express themselves and their feelings. Through the practices of Yoga, mindfulness and talking about feelings we are directing the use of the left brain which can help regulate the emotions of the right brain to bring about a sense of calm, positivity and well-being.
Harvard University has shown through evidence based research that Yoga increases self-regulation of pupil behaviour by 80% and the ability of pupils to focus on the teacher by 80%!!
Yoga also teaches values for life such as kindness, morality, happiness, truthfulness, empathy, community and working together, perseverance, positivity, love, health, well-being, prosperity, and the ability to express these values and feelings. These values sit perfectly with curriculum lessons taught in PHSCE and personal health and care.
In 2015 Heath Survey for England found that 28.2% of children aged 2-15 years were classed as overweight or obese. The physical practice of Yoga can help us combat obesity and lethargy in our young people.
Physical Benefits of Yoga and mindfulness:
- Balance and co-ordination
- Builds and maintains physical strength
- Improves posture
- Hypermobility – Helping teach the body the correct way of bending and stretching
- Enhances the immune system
- Can prevent certain diseases
- Maintains the natural levels of flexibility – lost as we grow older due to too much sitting down!
- It can also reduce risk of other conditions later in life such as:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Decreased mobility and fitness
- Orthopaedic conditions
- Sleep apnoea
Physical Yoga is about moving mindfully with the breath. By combining the practice of mindfulness and movement both the physical and mental are being trained at the same time. Both children and adults find it easier to engage a peaceful state of mind through active movement.
Physiological Benefits of Yoga and mindfulness:
- Improves sleep
- Boosts self-confidence
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Raises self-esteem
- Enhances empathy
- Decreases burn out
- It can also help conditions and handling situations such as:
- Social isolation
How can OmMoShantiYoga help your pupils?
I offer the opportunity to access the wonderful benefits of Yoga and mindfulness for both pupils and staff through classes on site at your school. This can be provided in many ways:
- Before/After school clubs
- Classes within the school day (perhaps integrated with PHSCE and P.E. lessons)
- Off timetable specialist theme days and activities weeks
- Classes for groups of pupils with specific needs
- Or in any bespoke way you require
What about staff?
‘Studies clearly show that a mindful teacher (one who practises mindfulness themselves), not necessarily teaching mindfulness techniques, has a greater positive impact on her/his pupils than a teacher who does not practise mindfulness themselves, however attempts to teach mindfulness techniques.’ (Jennings)
Children look to adults, especially their teachers, to create positive role models for them to follow. Teachers and staff who demonstrate a sense of calm and well-being transmit this to their pupils creating a more positive learning environment. Therefore, staff well-being is crucial in influencing what happens in our classrooms. I am extremely happy to offer Yoga and mindfulness classes for class teachers and other members of staff either after school or at any other time that works for you.
Please do get in touch with me via the Contacts page to discuss how I can help your pupils, staff and school on this important journey.
Please click here to go to the Contacts Page