Too often students are required to sit for long periods of time at school. This can occur due to a variety of circumstances: lack of outside time, lack of physical education resources, testing, the curriculum, the district, etc. the list goes on and on.
However, teachers can combat the lack of exercise and gross motor movement in their classrooms by doing yoga! Yoga is a quick, easy, simple, and effective way to get students moving and grooving. I love yoga personally because it really encourages self-regulation, something really important to develop in grade school, and relaxation of the body.
Here are a few simple yoga moves you can do even in a cramped space. I combined information from the following source (Ebert, M. (2012). Yoga in the classroom. Green Teacher, I. 97.) and added in a few poses of my own. The source suggested doing this yoga sequence in the morning before the day begins.
1. Begin in Standing Mountain pose (shown below) feet shoulder width apart, head staring forward, eyes opened or closed, and have students bring hands to the sides instead of in the air,. Tell the students to inhale through their nose and exhale through their mouth. (This type of slow breathing will need to be practiced before the sequence begins so students understand how to control their breath.) Stay here for a few breaths.
2. On an exhale, have students lift their right knee to their left elbow and then the opposite side, SLOWLY and with their breath.
3. Sitting Mountain pose is next, have the students sit in their chair and scoot forward slightly to bring the back and bottom away from the back of the chair. Feet should be flat on the floor and students should be sitting up straight and tall. Have students breathe here for several breaths. Tell the students to focus on their breath and try to let all of their air out on the exhale.
4. After this sequence, I would encourage the students to do a sitting back bend. Starting in Sitting Mountain pose, the student’s hands are at the back of their chair and they reach the top of their head back. (Below is a picture of students doing this pose standing, which is also an option.)
5. After this pose, have the students come back into Mountain Pose, reach their hands over their heads, then dive down into a forward fold. Encourage the students to move around in this pose by shaking their heads ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and/or holding their elbows and swaying back and forth.
6. Lastly, have the students slowly roll up, reach back up over their heads with their hands, and maybe even bend backwards if that feels good for them. Finally, have the students bring their hands to their hearts and together say:
“I stand up strong just like a tree.
I use my mind, and body, and breath,
To focus myself, and do my BEST!
After the sequence is finished, start your day strong! I encourage teachers to do the poses with the students and model how they are to be done. Yoga is not supposed to be stressful or straining. Also do some extra research and take a class (or 20!) before trying it in the classroom. (Additionally, this would be a great way to start a unit on different cultures!!!)
As my practice continues to grow and mature, I hope to post more helpful yoga sequences to do in the classroom.