Start by asking students to raise their hands if they have practiced yoga before. This simple question helps you gain a sense of the student’s level of experience with and knowledge about yoga. For those who have done yoga before, ask if they would be willing to share their experiences and encourage them to share by asking following questions:
- When did/do you practice yoga?
- Where did/do you practice yoga?
- Do you practice yoga alone or with other people?
- Why did you start practicing yoga? Why do you continue to practice it?
- What physical or mental health benefits do you find in practicing yoga?
After 3-4 minutes, turn to students who haven’t practiced yoga before and encourage them to share by asking the following questions:
- Have you ever wanted to practice yoga before? Why or why not?
- What personal or external factors have prevented you from practicing yoga? How can we minimize some of those barriers for the upcoming activity?
- Do you have any negative beliefs or ideas about yoga (ex. yoga is fluffy, or stupid)? If so, how can you approach this activity with an open mind?
Inform students that they will be participating in a 30-minute yoga practice but that, before they start, you want to make sure they know why they are doing Yoga. Explain that there are many benefits of yoga, and that (specifically in the context of education) regularly practicing yoga has proven to:
- Increase student’s ability to regulate emotions
- Enhance academic performance by improving attention and memory, as well as reducing academic stress
- Reduce anxiety
- Help students cope with negative or challenging life events (i.e. increase resilience)
- Reduce bullying, promote healthier relationships, and cultivate a greater awareness of and empathy for others
- Improve physical abilities like balance, flexibility, strength, and posture
Ask students to share their opinions about these findings. Some students may have personally experienced the benefits of yoga while others will remain skeptical or think that the benefits apply to everyone but them. Acknowledge students’ thoughts and ask everyone to try starting the upcoming yoga practice with a clean slate. Ask students to approach it with an open heart and open mind, and to, at the very least, be respectful.