The Bendy Blog

Yoga in the Classroom: Promote Creativity, Comprehension, and Focus

By Mary Rountree

Bendy Blog category: Mindfulness in Education

As teachers, how do we harness our students’ energy for productivity within the confines of the classroom environment?

Yoga breaks can really help those high-energy students by giving them the tools to calm themselves and focus while at the same time channeling that energy in more appropriate and functional ways  I’ve been using yoga in my classroom for several years now and the change in all my students is amazing.

Guided visualization fosters creativity and allows students to learn to visualize special places, people, and things that are important to them as well as use their vivid imaginations. Those children that are constantly complaining that “I can’t think of anything to write about” benefit by tapping into the creative side of their brain and, at last, have something to write about. This also helps in reading comprehension, as visualizing text is a strategy used to remember what they’ve been reading. Characters, stories, and setting come to life in the brains of all students.

I’ve found that my high-energy students are often some of the most creative thinkers of the bunch and benefit greatly from guided visualizations in many ways. Using their imaginations and writing and drawing about the experience keeps them focused and on task. The break from the normal often-boring routine of “typical schoolwork” allows them time to focus their energies on a different level.

Most students by third grade realize that they have little control over their impulses and un-channeled energy within the classroom — as they’ve already been told repeatedly by teachers to focus on their work, stop blurting out, and sit on their bottoms. For these students, it is virtually impossible. They certainly don’t want to be like this. Why would a child choose to be singled out for disruptive behavior?

Yoga breaks provide them an opportunity to exert some energy during the faster-paced movements. as well as focus during the movements that require balance and complete attention. Breathing exercises can help them to calm their bodies when they feel that their insides are moving so fast and their thoughts are like shooting fireworks in their brains.

After a few weeks of practice, these students use these tools without guidance and learn to self soothe at school as well as at home. Every year, students, upon being assigned to my classroom ask about yoga. They want it. Their parents want it for them — even in Alabama! Many parents do yoga and know the benefits that the focused postures, breathing and relaxation have to distress. Why wouldn’t they want that for their children?

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