Anxiety isn’t a word to shy away from in 2018 as statistics show it to be a disorder that has or will affect most of us at some point in life. Recent research suggests that 1 in 6 children are affected by anxiety, and over half of all mental health problems start by the age of 14 and 75% develop by the age of 18.*
If these facts are not enough to get us talking about mindfulness in schools I don’t know what will! It would be my dream to get mindfulness on the curriculum and I feel that we are on our way in the right direction. With anxiety being the ultimate precursor to stress, it is important that we address the rising tension amongst our future generations.
"Yoga helps to stretch and heal their nervous system by releasing the tension that becomes trapped in their muscles"
As part of the Teach Fit programme that we offer at Opogo, we are teaching children as young as 4 how to breathe and take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday living. It is such a powerful way to develop coping mechanisms for stressful situations such as SATS and exam revision that can really overwhelm some children.
I’ve rounded up a few basic postures that I love to teach my students in order to help relieve stress. These poses are easy and adaptable for when the children are sat at their desks or even at home when they need to calm their mind outside of the classroom:
- Belly breathing (the balloon breathe)
Breathe in through your nose and as you do so, imagine that your stomach is a balloon that you ae trying to inflate. As you breathe out feel as if you are letting that same balloon deflate and flatten. Perhaps get the children to lift their arms up to the air as they breathe in and lowering them as they exhale. This simple tweak to belly breathing helps to further exaggerate the idea of blowing up a balloon.
- Tree pose
Get the children to stand up tall behind their desks and close their eyes to feel focused and grounded. Directing them to continue belly breathing like previously outlined will lead them into what we call Tree pose. From here, you can guide them to really push down into the ground with their feet so that they feel a connection to the Earth.
- Childs pose
While this may be tricky at the desk, this is an amazing pose to get your students practising when a mindful. Minute is needed to refocus their attention. Guide the children to lay out on the floor in Childs pose and direct them to concentrate on their breathing by closing their eyes. At first, they may find it a bit strange, but after a while they will start to love how relaxed they become and will start recognising just how beneficial yoga can be!
"By getting children to stretch and move, it helps to instil a calmer frame of mind in their memories"
Let’s not forget that these yoga poses are not just for children but are perfect for teachers too! We understand how stressful your job can be which is why we are dedicated to making both yours and your students’ mental health a priority. Opogo is a community of culture; a culture of care.
We would love to hear your feedback and stories on how these yoga exercises have worked with your students. Email us your students’ favourite yoga poses at email@example.com!
*(Murphy and Fonagy 2012)
About our Community Expert
#TeachFit programme lead
Kirsty is a yoga teacher on a journey of empowerment, building confidence and pushing the boundaries of what traditional yoga is and can be.
She leads the TeachFit Yoga workshops in our partner schools.