"With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment." ~ Nhat Hanh
I've been lucky to be trained by some amazing yoga teachers. Baron Baptiste, Paul Grilley and Shiva Rae have all helped me to gain a deeper understanding of yoga and mindfulness. I have experienced the benefits of each of these practices. But more and more we are seeing the benefits that they have for students. There is plenty of research now to show how a regular mindfulness practice in school can have a positive impact with students.
Our school is lucky to have a teacher who has experienced those benefits too. If you were to walk into Jenny's grade 8 classroom you would hear, see and feel a classroom culture that is steeped in mindfulness. They enjoy the yoga classes Jenny leads them through, but they are also eager to engage in mindfulness activities. During my classroom visits I often see the desks push to the edges of the room with students either practicing yoga or experiencing a mindfulness activity. What's really amazing about Jenny is that her initial desire to bring a mindfulness practice into her room has now spread to other areas of the school. This year she has led a yoga or mindfulness practice with some of our athletic teams, with small groups of girls and some of the younger classes in the school. She is always eager to explore new ways to introduce activities to her students and today was a perfect example.
Jenny teamed up with a close friend and mindfulness teacher Sherry, who is also an elementary teacher at a school not too far from ours. Throughout the year the students have sent each other videos and letters explaining what they like about yoga and mindfulness and what it means to them. It didn't matter that Jenny's class are grade 8s and Sherry's are grade 4/5s. They just all love yoga and mindfulness. Today they had a chance to meet for a day full of yoga and mindfulness that Jenny, Sherry and another teacher Bonnie planned together. This is what they're day consisted of:
- songs, games and poses with their buddies
- they shared different breaths and mindful moves
- they played the distraction game, with lots of noise makers where students had to keep their focus
- they did a meditation
- they did a craft where they traced their hands and wrote nice things about their partner on each finger, then made it into a poster garden
- the grade 8s made treasure boxes filled with positive intentions which they gave to their younger buddies to keep and read later
The grade 8s were an example for the rest of the school. They were kind and supportive to their younger buddies and they loved the entire day. Jenny couldn't have been prouder. But the truth is, I couldn't be prouder myself. Proud of the students for being such great examples for their younger buddies and proud of a great teacher bringing such an important practice to her students that will only benefit them as they move to high school.
Check out the pictures below of their amazing day. I'd love to hear your thoughts on yoga and mindfulness for students.