Breathe In…Breathe Out…Inhale Your Future…Exhale Your Past…

by Donna Richey | CIS Site Coordinator at Anadarko Middle School

Re-read the title of this blog post. How many of us take time to do this? Well, maybe now is a good time to try!

It’s National Yoga Month, a campaign initiated in 2008 by the Department of Health & Human services to educate the nation about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy living lifestyle. As an educator who loves living healthy, my amateur yoga status is a must in my life! And the lessons we learn and do on the mat carry over into the lessons of life; when it’s hard, then relax and breathe deeply and slowly, balance is attained by the mind before the body, and the quality of your move is more valuable than the quantity of moves.

Home, school, work, can all be places where we like to be, but can also be sources of anxiety and/or stress. While we all can’t afford massages and spa time, we can afford at least 15 – 20 minutes of meditation, breathing, stretching, & strengthening.

And what about yoga in schools and classrooms? It makes perfect sense to me.

You’re right in the assumption that the benefits of yoga include increasing your strength and flexibility. But did you also realize it helps us calm down, relax, and decompress to reduce our stress and anxiety? Imagine that around testing time, or helping a student when there are stressors at home.

It also helps us sleep better, and we all know that children and their growing bodies and brains need more sleep than we do as adults.

Another benefit is the improvement to motor skills, especially with the balancing and helping kids identify their place in space and body awareness.

When I ask teachers what their challenges are, no matter what grade, many say they:

  • can’t keep kids focused and in their seats
  • students always talk over one another and the teacher
  • self-control and impulsiveness take time away from learning/teaching
  • it is difficult to stay positive because of so many challenges
  • students all come with diverse experiences and both teachers and students have to be able to understand and empathize with each other

So, when we remind teachers that yoga practice has been scientifically proven to positively impact self-regulation and behavior, they just can’t seem to deny or justify not making time for yoga in their day.

Yoga benefits student’s mental health, attention span, and memory.

If it can do all this for kids, imagine the self-care it does for you! For those of us who swim in the deep end of the pool as Site Coordinators, we may have found out the hard way the importance of self-care. As a new Site Coordinator, our first year is filled with learning our data entry system, keeping up with training webinars, being in a new role, developing a caseload, and starting in a new school and/or district. This is more than enough to make my neck and shoulder muscles looking like a wad of thick rubber bands twisted tighter and tighter and stretched to it’s capacity. Thankfully, at CIS of Mid-America, we recognize the importance of incorporating self-care into both our work and personal lives.

So join me from your home as I close out the day at mine, diffuse some Lavender oil, click my yoga playlist on my Spotify, start some hot water for my detox tea, put my comfy jammies on, roll out my mat on my bedroom floor. Standing at the end of the mat, I take five cleansing breathes, then begin to move into evening stretches and relaxation poses and finish with plenty of water and my tea to flush out all of that lactic acid and other toxins that built up in those muscles from a busy day. We got this.

Here are some additional ways to celebrate the month:

  • Do yoga in the park/playground with students, staff & parents. Invite the community.
  • Invite local yoga instructors to your school/business to introduce five great de-stressing poses & techniques.
  • Each day, over the intercom or in the cafeteria, lead a 5 minute breathing and morning pose to center for the day.
  • If you already do yoga, then take it somewhere new or seasonal, like the local pumpkin patch or pecan grove, by a pond, or even a sunflower or cotton field. Nature provides such a spectacular backdrop enhanced by smells and sounds.
  • Even without the mat, you can always take Mindful Moments to contemplate gratitude and breathe. Using a Hoberman sphere makes teaching breathing technique a breeze!

I leave you with the opportunity to embrace and embody all things yoga by also being mindful and purposeful to impact the earth in a positive way. Go green, use less, make zero waste, recycle and DIY and be the model for our students in healthy living! HAPPY NATIONAL YOGA MONTH!