Just as in our adult lives we continue to cultivate our minds and bodies through regular practice and spiritual study, so too must we plant the seeds of intentional living in our children.
We reached out to three organizations that are bringing yoga and mindfulness into the classroom, and asked teachers and students to describe their experiences.
Relieving High School Angst
Yoga should be a vital piece of the public school physical education curriculum. As a school educator of 15 years and certified yoga teacher, I feel blessed to impart yoga practice into the lives of youth.
Many students show up to class misunderstood, stressed, and overly anxious. As their yoga teacher and direct witness to the transformation of each student during the 18-week semester, I have seen how deeply the youth of today seek out the acceptance, guidance, and wisdom yoga offers.
They learn the foundational alignment of postures, sparking questions and curiosity about how the body works. The eight-limbed path (primarily the Yamas and Niyamas) guides daily lessons. The mat becomes an extension of how yoga can be applied to the daily principles of living a happy, centered, enjoyable life. Students leave nourished, self-directed, and with a deeper desire to make a positive difference in the world they will one day lead.
– Christy Curtis (christycurtisyoga.com)
Creating Grace Through Sharing It
CTG Yoga is a yoga-inspired lifestyle company based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, that creates handmade drygoods to support mindful living. Our mantra is “create the grace.”
To create the grace is to be the good that you want to see in the world. For us, this means how we make our products, who we choose as partners, and what we do with our profits.
We collaborate with local yoga instructors and artisans, and a portion of our profits go toward The Mindfulness Movement, an initiative to bring yoga to underserved kids. Our programs combine a variety of forms of meditation and creative expression—with an emphasis on yoga—to provide ways for the kids to tap into mindfulness and their true self.
As Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
– Caitlin Gottschalk (ctgyogalife.com)
Giving Teachers Tools to Teach
Yoga Foster is an organization that empowers teachers to bring yoga to their classrooms. While volunteering as a yoga teacher in New York City public schools, I met several teachers who wanted to integrate yoga in their curriculum on their own. I began to train teachers personally, and then offered the training online, transitioning to Yoga Foster full-time a few years later.
Community engagement is at the core of our nationwide expansion. We only use donated new and gently-used yoga mats in our schools, and the majority of our funding currently comes from individual contributions.
Since our costs are low—$10 per student—the community can come together and fund an entire classroom. By integrating even 10 minutes of yoga a day, our teachers report marked improvements on focus and attention.
I love when they tell us their students now take a moment for breathing exercises when they get upset, or do a quick yoga break when the class needs a pick-me-up.
– Nicole Cardoza (yogafoster.org)