Yoga in Education

Concern for the stresses in children, united around 40 people at a ‘Yoga in Education’ day held at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, Llanarthne. Although the weather was disappointing the time spent was light-hearted and amusing with plenty of time for reflection. The audience ranged from absolute beginners in yoga through to experienced yoga teachers, which included schoolteachers and headteachers. The individuals that attended had travelled from as far as London and Exeter or as near as Llandeilo and Tumble to spend an enlightening day at this tranquil and beautiful venue in the Towy valley.

The provider for the day was Micheline Flak PhD, who lives in Paris, is President of Research on Yoga in Education (RYE); is an International Consultant on the subject of Yoga at School, has written several articles, and is the author of “A dream come true YOGA AT SCHOOL Yoga exercises for the classroom.”

Micheline works on the principle of helping children learn by teaching them ways of reaching calm and harmony, which leads to relaxation and the ability to open their minds and become more receptive to what they are being taught. Teachers also benefit from children learning and using these skills because the learning environment becomes more still and tranquil, which means that they have less distractions and disruptions to cope with whilst teaching their pupils. To further reduce the strain on teachers we were also taught how to use our voices more effectively.

The participants were encouraged to see the child as a whole being i.e. body, mind and spirit, not as we often do in school as mainly the intellectual mind. The activities undertaken within the classroom corresponded with observations made by the teacher on the needs of the children at a particular moment in time and this varied as the demands changed. Methods were also adapted to take into consideration the ages of the children.

Simple techniques were explained to help calm and de-stress children and adults in the school setting. The introduction involved all the participants writing their name on individual, colourful, paper petals, which were then combined and assembled to make a large circular flower. This flower was moved during the day and its centre used as a focus point for some of the activities undertaken.

To my relief, and that of other classroom teachers, there was no major disruption by moving furniture and finding a space for each child to carry out the exercises. The movements could be embarked upon at the child’s desk or with the child standing behind his or her individual chair. So that everyone in the classroom environment could better manage his or her ‘vital energies’, four fundamental elements were focused upon.
They are as follows: -

“1. Operation “straight backs”
2. Correct breathing: setting up 3 respiratory levels
3. Relaxation through various techniques
4. Development of visual, auditory, motor, olfactive and gustative attention.”
(Flak M., p10)

We were all aware that being relaxed enhances memory and learning and that teaching children how to be relaxed and attentive is a useful attribute to their self-development that would increase their powers of recall. The day taught us the skills of how to help our children reach this state with the minimum of disruption and has made us look forward to the second day of training which will be held at the same venue in March.

Flak M. (PhD) A Dream come true ‘Yoga at School’ Yoga exercises for the classroom. France R.Y.E.

By Angela Jones (Headteacher Mynyddygarreg school.)