Inquiry Project Handout
A few practical tips for setting your intentions & the tone in your classroom.
Luckily for me, my sponsor teacher has made yoga and mindfulness a regular part of the students’ daily routine. When I go in and do yoga and mindfulness with them, it is already a normal part of their day. They have not been in a classroom setting where they have not done yoga or mindfulness practices.
I was wondering, how will I start this in my own class next year? How do you make this important and routine in your classroom community?
I started to reflect on things that have been helpful for me in incorporating mindfulness in my practicum, and I thought that I would share a few:
Setting the Tone
- Volume- Talk to your students about what the volume of the room should be. You will be leading the exercises, so make sure that to adjust your voice level to a calm and slower level.
- Personal Space- This is a great way to teach students about what personal space is. Talk to your students what having enough personal space looks like. Have a discussion about why it is necessary to have enough personal space when you are trying to calm your mind and your body.
- Sounds- YouTube is a great resource for mindfulness. Students love music in the background. Another thing that is great is getting a triangle or a gong for your classroom. It is a very calming sound for students.
Transition Times (I have found this is the most effective time to do mindfulness techniques/yoga in my Kindergarten class)
Many students struggle with transitions- especially coming in from lunch or recess. This can be a stressful and chaotic time for teachers too. This is a fabulous time to incorporate mindfulness. I get all of my students to enter the classroom, go to their tables, and put their heads on their desks. They close their eyes, and then we do some breathing techniques or yoga exercises for a few minutes. The students love it, and it sets them up for success for the rest of the day. A good way to spend five minutes if you ask me!
I hope these tips will help guide you in the implementation of mindfulness and yoga in your classroom!
Does mindfulness have a place in schools?
This past year, I have become obsessed with yoga, meditation and mindfulness. I have been practicing yoga for a few years now, but I really delved deep into yoga this year after I suffered a fairly serious sports injury. I relied heavily on yoga and meditation to keep me active and sane when I was not able to do any type of rigorous physical activity. This time in my life forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate what is important to me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to stick to yoga and meditation once I got better, but it turns out it has become a huge part of who I am in my personal life and in my professional life. For a long time I couldn’t explain why yoga, meditation and mindfulness is important to me. I knew it was important, but I couldn’t articulate it- and that bothered me because I love to talk.
I was reading a really insightful book over the winter break called “Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown. This book left me speechless many times. I would go to sleep after reading a chapter, and would be up for hours thinking about what I just read (that doesn’t happen often for me).
My favourite chapter is called “Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart.” In this chapter she recalls a experience with Dr. Joan Halifax- a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, activist, and author. She explains that they were doing an event together, and they were both feeling exhausted before the meet-and-greet. She was going despite her exhaustion when Dr. Halifax suggested that they should both take a break a rest. She explains:
“Tonight we will exhale and teach. Now it’s time to inhale. There is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and it’s easy to believe that we must exhale all the time, without ever inhaling. But the inhale is absolutely essential if you want to continue to exhale”(p. 148).
When I read this, I realized that this was exactly my answer. Yoga has forced me to become a more balanced and thoughtful person. It was essential in my recovery, because it forced me to take time, let my mind relax, and to learn how to appreciate quietness.
This is also the reason why I think that yoga, mindfulness and meditation have a place in schools. Teaching students the skills to self-regulate and calm down will create a generation mentally strong and healthy people.