YAMS: Yoga and Mediation School (YAMS)
The Yoga and Mediation School (YAMS) program is an amazing set of tools you’ll use with your child so they develop the awareness within to feel empowered and be their best, truest selves. Your kids will learn how to regulate their own energy — you’ll be providing them with the resources and understanding they need to make positive, healthy choices.
YAMS is designed for any and every parent, too! What if you don’t know anything about yoga? No problem. Our program teaches you the basics so you and your child can learn together. If you already have a practice, we’ll help you open even more to meet your kids right where they are without expectations.
The origins of yoga and meditation are unknown, but there is evidence that dates them back approximately 5,000 years ago. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning union. This refers to the union of the body, mind, and spirit that occurs when practicing yoga. This is a system of connecting the whole self. There are three components to yoga: asanas, pranayama, and dyana. Asanas are the physical postures and poses that are practiced in yoga. Pranayama refers to the various breathing techniques that are utilized throughout the practice. Dyana is the element of meditation within yoga. Any of these aspects of yoga can be practiced on their own, but true Yoga (union) occurs when all three are interconnected.
Benefits of Yoga and Meditation
There are numerous benefits for all individuals that practice yoga and meditation.
Improved balance and coordination
Increased flexibility and strength
Reduced anxiety and stress
Increased concentration, attention, and focus
Improved motor skills
Stabilization of the nervous system
Lower blood pressure
Increased energy and endurance
Healthier immune system overall
Improves self-awareness and self-control
Reduced aggression and misbehavior
Additional benefits that are specifically seen in Early Childhood students are helping students to learn left from right, as well as improved listening and direction-following skills.
Implementing Yoga and Meditation in Early Childhood Classrooms
There are many uses for yoga and meditation within the Early Childhood classroom setting. Incorporating awakening and stimulating poses into yoga practice at the beginning of the day can cause students to become alert and focused for the day ahead. Utilizing deep breathing and relaxing poses after a vigorous recess, physical education class, or rousing classroom activity can center students and bring them back into the classroom dynamic. At the end of the day, postures to center oneself can help students release pent-up energy before heading home or to after school activities. While this may seem as though incorporating yoga into the classroom routine is time consuming, in reality it is not. These yoga and meditation sessions do not need to be extensive. Rather, five to ten minutes once or twice a day as needed, will greatly improve the stress levels, energy, and productivity within your classroom. In addition, yoga and meditation practices can be an incredibly successful method for classroom management.
In the younger grades, songs are a great way to incorporate and introduce yoga poses and postures. Various animals and nature poses can be fused into the musical experience, so that students gain the kinesthetics within the learning. Many different yoga games can be created and utilized within the classroom as well. These provide a fun atmosphere for students to relax and center themselves. A popular method for introducing breathing techniques to young students is to practice ‘balloon breathing’. This type of breathing encourages students to fill their stomachs with air and slowly inflate them like a balloon on each breath. Then the students are encouraged to slowly breathe out as they release the air from the balloon. Various visualization and guided imagery techniques can be utilized as well.
Implementing Yoga in Middle Childhood Classrooms
Implementing yoga and meditation practices in middle childhood classrooms is beneficial to the students in many ways. To begin, one way that students will get the benefits of yoga in the classroom is because it makes students disciplined and focused. Students will learn how to set goals and motivate themselves though a strong mind to achieve their goals. Students that have less stresses and are more motivated to reach their goals will be more successful not only in the classroom with academics, but also in other aspects of their life such as athletics, or music. A well rounded student is one that has goals in many different areas of their life, and through yoga practices students will become focused and grounded.
To continue, another benefit of yoga in middle childhood classrooms is generating consistency in the classroom. Students excel in a setting where there is consistent habits and structure in the day. Making a time for students to close their eyes, practice meditating or yoga will create structure for the students. Allowing a portion of the day to be focused on just the student also keeps the student centered and able to decompress from the stress of the school day. allowing time to think and be quiet and still with create a classroom environment that is inviting, calming, and open.
Yoga and meditation in the middle childhood classroom setting must be voluntary. Forcing students and demanding them to be still and become grounded in their breaths is a concept that some students are not comfortable with. Therefore, students should always have the option to not take part in the practice if they are not in the right mindset. Students that are forced into the yoga or meditation portion of the day will soon resent that time of the day and can end up distracting the other students in the class.
Top 10 Benefits of Yoga in the Classroom
Today’s schools are focused on supporting the whole student – both intellectually, as well as becoming good citizens in society. Yoga supports the goal of developing the whole student in various ways. Listed below are the top 10 reasons why every school should implement yoga practices into their curriculum.
Students learn ways to balance emotions
Creates a relaxed learning environment, for both the students and the teacher
Brings students to the present, leaving past experiences in the past
Creates a connectedness in the classroom among students
Provides opportunities for students to be mobile during the school day
Eases unnecessary anxiety and tension
Improves listening skills
Jumpstarts minds that are becoming sluggish
Improves mind and body awareness
Enhances respect for oneself and one another in the classroom
Yoga in the Classroom is NOT just for the students,
teachers benefit too!
Students are not the only one’s that benefit from practicing yoga in the classroom. Teacher’s are also on the receiving end. Practicing yoga alongside students can give the teachers a chance to relax, find balance, and refocus on the goal for that day in the classroom. Often teachers find themselves very stressed and overwhelmed in the daily to-do list that can often be a daunting task. If teachers find time to hold a yoga practice with their students, they will learn how both their students and themselves can relax and destress with the help of each other.
Jane Rosen, who holds a PhD in educational psychology, encourages teachers to hold yoga practices in the classroom each week. She has found success with this, because it not only redirects students with their educational goals, but it also helps teachers find a sense of balance and refocus. Jane Rosen said that, “[o]ur classrooms need the pleasure-giving, community-building, and life-enhancing tools of yoga. When teachers thrive, so do their students.” In every classroom, teachers hope that students leave more successful than they entered; implementing yoga can ensure that the students and the teachers are becoming balanced, loving, and thriving people.