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1. Ready

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient mind and body practice that has a long, rich history traced back to Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit root word yug, which literally means ‘to unite’. Unlike many people think, this union does not refer to the union between mind and body. Instead,
yoga is viewed as Lee, J. (2019, November 11). What is the True Meaning of Yoga?. Yogapedia.
a practice that unites individual consciousness (individual experiences of reality) with a divine, or higher consciousness (a more universal perspective that moves beyond your ego). Over two thousand years ago,
Sage Patanjali created the Yoga Sutra, Carrico, M. (2017a, May 22). A Beginner’s Guide to the History of Yoga. Yoga Journal.
which is a collection of 195 statements that capture yogic philosophy, and which provides the framework for virtually all yoga that is practiced today.

There are
eight limbs of yoga, Carrico, M. (2017b, July 10). Get to Know the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Yoga Journal.
also referred to as the eightfold path (ashtanga), which are considered guidelines for how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. The eightfold path addresses moral and ethical conduct, physical and mental health, self-discipline, and connection. In Western society, yoga practices primarily involve a series of seated or standing poses and breathing practices, which reflect only two of the eight limbs of yoga (Asanas and Pranayamas, respectively). Yoga poses are brought together to form a sequence of poses (a flow) and breathing is controlled to complement the sequence of poses and cleanse/purify the mind and body.

Why is it beneficial to practice Yoga?

The
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health [NCCIH]. (n.d.). Yoga: What You Need to Know. National Institutes of Health.
(NCCIH) suggests that yoga is an effective way to enhance overall wellbeing and that practicing yoga can help you manage pain, lose weight, quit smoking, improve mental health, and manage chronic diseases like cancer. In 2018,
a meta-analysis Domingues, R. (2018). Modern postural yoga as a mental health promoting tool: A systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 31.
of the effects of yoga on mental health concluded that, for 10 of 14 studies reviewed, yoga was associated with increased resilience, enhanced satisfaction with life, as well as greater self-compassion and empathy for others. Yoga has also been studied as a treatment intervention for patients with
Major Depressive Disorder, Cramer, H., Anheyer, D., Lauche, R., & Dobos, G. (2017). A systematic review of yoga for major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 213, 70–77.
Anxiety, Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Anheyer, D., Pilkington, K., Manincor, M., Dobos, G., & Ward, L. (2018). Yoga for anxiety: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety, 35(9), 830–843.
and
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Cramer, H., Anheyer, D., Saha, F., & Dobos, G. (2018). Yoga for posttraumatic stress disorder - a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1), 72.


For school-aged children struggling with emotional and behavioural disorders, teachers reported a notable decrease in depressive and behavioural symptoms as well as increased attention and adaptive skills for children who participated in a
school-based yoga intervention Steiner, N., Sidhu, T., Pop, P., Frenette, E., & Perrin, E. (2013). Yoga in an Urban School for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: A Feasibility Study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(6), 815–826.
twice a week for 3 ½ months. Integrating regular yoga practice into the physical education curriculum has also demonstrated
benefits for children’s physical development Folleto, J., Pereira, K., & Valentini, N. (2016). The effects of yoga practice in school physical education on children’s motor abilities and social behavior. International Journal of Yoga, 9(2), 156–162.
by improving their balance, strength, and flexibility.

In the article,
“Seven Ways That Yoga is Good for Schools”, Butzer, B. & Flynn, L. (2018, November 20). Seven Ways That Yoga is Good for Schools. Greater Good Magazine.
Bethany Butzer and Lisa Flynn explain how yoga improves student’s emotion regulation skills, enhances academic performance, reduces anxiety and tension, increases resilience to stress, leads to fewer problem behaviours, as well as greater physical wellbeing. They also highlight how yoga has the potential to improve teacher wellbeing and create a more positive classroom climate. Teachers who did only
20 minutes of mindfulness or yoga four days a week for sixteen weeks, Harris, A., Jennings, P., Katz, D., Abenavoli, R., & Greenberg, M. (2016). Promoting Stress Management and Wellbeing in Educators: Feasibility and Efficacy of a School-Based Yoga and Mindfulness Intervention. Mindfulness, 7(1), 143–154.
showed improvements in mood, better classroom management, and lower physical symptoms of stress such as blood pressure and cortisol levels.


Overall, the physical and mental health benefits of yoga are summarized neatly by Sakyong Mipham, an American and Tibetan Buddhist, who asserts that, in yoga, “the body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness”.

Yoga for Teachers

Teachers often enter the teaching profession with selfless intentions.
When asked Mayer, M., & Phillips, V. (n.d.). A Letter from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Scholastic.
about why they chose teaching as their profession, 85% of teachers said it was to make a difference in the lives of children and nearly every teacher (98%) agreed that teaching is how they make a difference in the world. However, these selfless intentions and teacher’s tremendous care for students, along with administrative pressures and the sheer volume of work, has led to a
“teacher burnout epidemic”. Rankin, J. (2016, November 22). The Teacher Burnout Epidemic, Part 1 of 2. Psychology Today.


Practicing yoga can be a great outlet for stress and frustration. Not only this, but yoga also builds the mental capacity to better manage chaos and remain calm under pressure. Teachers who participated in a
school yoga intervention Will, M. (2017, June 7). Can Yoga Help Prevent Teacher Burnout?. Education Week.
also said that yoga helped them understand how their own as well as their students’ mindsets affected teaching and learning.

Try it out for yourself!

Join Adriene Mishler for her 30-minute Yoga for Teachers practice. This is a great way to take a break, practice some self-care, and “fill up your bucket”.

Where can I learn more?

Yoga Journal – Yoga 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Practice, Meditation, and the Sutras

Greater Good Magazine – Seven Ways That Yoga is Good for Schools

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health – Yoga in Schools Isn’t Just for Kids: How Teachers Benefit

Yoga In My School – Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Yoga in Schools

What will students learn?

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to…

  • Understand and explain the benefits of yoga
  • Demonstrate proficiency at the yoga poses covered in class
  • Integrate yoga skills and concepts into daily life both in- and outside the classroom
  • Develop presence and self-awareness, and ease tension or stress by applying basic yoga skills
References
Beecuz

Butzer, B. & Flynn, L. (2018, November 20). Seven Ways That Yoga is Good for Schools. Greater Good Magazine.

Carrico, M. (2017a, May 22). A Beginner’s Guide to the History of Yoga. Yoga Journal.

Carrico, M. (2017b, July 10). Get to Know the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Yoga Journal.

Cramer, H., Anheyer, D., Lauche, R., & Dobos, G. (2017). A systematic review of yoga for major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 213, 70-77.

Cramer, H., Anheyer, D., Saha, F., & Dobos, G. (2018). Yoga for posttraumatic stress disorder - a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1), 72.

Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Anheyer, D., Pilkington, K., Manincor, M., Dobos, G., & Ward, L. (2018). Yoga for anxiety: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety, 35(9), 830–843.

Domingues, R. (2018). Modern postural yoga as a mental health promoting tool: A systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 31.

Folleto, J., Pereira, K., & Valentini, N. (2016). The effects of yoga practice in school physical education on children’s motor abilities and social behavior. International Journal of Yoga, 9(2), 156–162.

Harris, A., Jennings, P., Katz, D., Abenavoli, R., & Greenberg, M. (2016). Promoting Stress Management and Wellbeing in Educators: Feasibility and Efficacy of a School-Based Yoga and Mindfulness Intervention. Mindfulness, 7(1), 143–154.    

Lee, J. (2019, November 11). What is the True Meaning of Yoga?. Yogapedia.

Mayer, M., & Phillips, V. (n.d.). A Letter from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Scholastic.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health [NCCIH]. (n.d.). Yoga: What You Need to Know. National Institutes of Health.

Rankin, J. (2016, November 22). The Teacher Burnout Epidemic, Part 1 of 2. Psychology Today.

Steiner, N., Sidhu, T., Pop, P., Frenette, E., & Perrin, E. (2013). Yoga in an Urban School for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: A Feasibility Study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(6), 815–826.

Will, M. (2017, June 7). Can Yoga Help Prevent Teacher Burnout?. Education Week.

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