Lucien has started kindergarten. One of the many things I love about his new school is the emphasis they place on being active and using their bodies throughout the school day. Lucien’s first class on his very first day of school, as it turned out, was a Healthy Movements class in the gym. (The first week they played soccer. The next, freeze dance.) On our school tour the assistant principal talked to parents about the importance of recess, and a new program they’ve started where kids can come a half hour early to school for free outdoor play in the mornings. The school finds that recess, free play, and the small-scale field trips they take to the local park for science class really make a difference in how kids are able to learn once back in the classroom. As a yogi, I know that these stretch-your-leg opportunities can be as edifying as violin or Mandarin. I’m so heartened to see that public schools are catching on to this.
I’ve been thinking a lot about elementary schools recently, and was really interested to check out Om Schooled by Sarah Herrington, a memoir and practical manual in one about her experiences teaching yoga in an elementary school setting.
Years ago I taught yoga classes on a volunteer basis in a Los Angeles public school. I’d meet my kids in the huge gymnasium and take 50-plus children through a class period of Downward Dogs, Tree, and Corpse poses. It was inspiring, chaotic, and fun work. But I have to admit I didn’t really know the best way to manage a classroom or have a full understanding of how to translate yoga poses and practice for children. I got creative and did my best but I would have loved the help of a real world manual like this one.
I was also interested, and surprised, to find out that some parents are worried that yoga in the classroom goes against their religious beliefs.
Do your children have enough recess and active time at school? Do they have access to yoga? Have you ever taught a yoga class in a school? Please share your experiences with YJ.com! And definitely check out OM Schooled if you are interested in teaching yoga in schools—or would like to bring yoga to your child’s classroom.
Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse), out in paperback now. She’s spending the year in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and five-year-old son. “Like” her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter. Visit her at www.jessicabergergross.com.