As educators look for ways to help students relieve stress and self-regulate during the school day, more and more of them are introducing yoga in the classroom. Why? Because along with supporting overall health, yoga has been shown to offer social-emotional and academic advantages as well.
If you’re looking for reasons to add yoga into your social-emotional learning program and into your classroom routine, look no further.
Why use yoga in the classroom?
1. Yoga helps students manage stress
All children, especially those who experience high anxiety or aggression, can benefit from the mental break that yoga provides. Numerous studies have shown positive results when teachers have introduced yoga in classrooms, with students reporting decreased aggression and improved mood.
2. Yoga can reduce bullying behaviors
Bullying behaviors can erupt when a student is feeling stressed or experiencing mistreatment outside of school and doesn’t have the tools to self-regulate their emotions. By using yoga as a stress reliever during the day, you can help those dysregulated students learn to reduce their stress at school and at home. In turn, this helps reduce their negative behavior and aggression toward other students.
3. Yoga contributes to a calm classroom environment
Students, especially those who are neurodivergent, can have a hard time regulating their emotions when overstimulated by their environment. By creating a calm classroom environment, you can help prevent this overstimulation.
There are multiple ways to achieve a calm classroom environment — reducing visual and auditory stimulation, using soft lighting, adding biophilic elements, and teaching students strategies for regulating their emotions. Yoga is one of those key strategies, as it can help your entire class practice mindfulness so they can refocus on learning.
4. Yoga develops body awareness
Young brains are still developing, and some students can have a difficult time respecting physical boundaries. Yoga practice develops self-awareness, helping students become more conscious of their bodies and their movements. It also helps them focus on their breathing — one of the most effective relaxation strategies.
5. Yoga has a host of physical benefits
Stress can have harmful effects on kids, including headaches, stomachaches, increased blood pressure, and muscle tension. Along with helping them relieve and prevent these symptoms, yoga also builds hand-eye coordination, muscle strength, hand strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and more — all of which help your students live healthier and happier lives.
6. Yoga improves focus, concentration, and memory
Research provides evidence that practicing yoga can improve students’ overall cognitive function. By giving students several “brain breaks” throughout the day, you’ll be helping them to focus better on the tasks at hand and retain more of what they learned.
7. Yoga can raise energy levels
When students need to focus on a task or new information for a sustained period, their minds can often wander. Breaking up a lesson with yoga practice can be a great way to raise energy levels and attention by releasing endorphins and increasing blood flow to the brain. Active kids mean active brains!
8. Yoga is great for teachers, too!
Teaching can be one of the most stressful jobs, but by introducing your students to yoga, you can gain all the health benefits as well! Along with yoga, try these 15 stress-reduction tips for teachers so you can feel your best every day.
2 easy ways to get started with yoga in the classroom
There are many reasons to add yoga into the school day, including better overall health for students, better focus, and increased academic achievement. If you’re ready to get started, try these teacher-favorite yoga kits that make it easy to introduce this practice in your classroom.
This kit turns practicing yoga poses into a fun game and effective SEL activity.
Break the class into small groups and provide every group with a kit that includes the game and five exercise mats. Instruct students to give the game spinner a whirl and then perform the pose on the corresponding card. The student who can hold the pose the longest keeps the card. The first to collect a card in every color wins.
Not feeling competitive? Just spin the spinner and have students practice different yoga poses for a 10-minute break.
With the 44 illustrated cards and the exercise balls in this ready-to-go kit, you’ll be able to help students focus, stretch, and breathe throughout the day. The yoga movements featured are designed for students of varying abilities to do on their own or as a group and can help students increase attention span, calm nerves, and develop postural control.