By Jesse U.
With the benefits of yoga becoming more evident and increasingly popular, I think it is time we look to see if it has a rightful place within the walls of our schools. Yoga is an age-old practice of body and mind that has resurfaced in recent years as a popular form of exercise and as a spiritual practice.
Yoga has shown great potential for producing physical benefits that range from increased flexibility to lowering blood pressure and weight loss. It has also shown to produce psychological benefits such as calming your mind and helping you focus which should be of great interest for schools to implement. Yoga seems like the perfect solution for many problems we find within our youth, but the question is does this practice belong in our schools?
Many people see no problem in implementing yoga into schools because of its wide range of potential benefits that it can offer students and teachers. But, controversy will always strike- I read an article called “Parents sue school for teaching yoga to children” which is a case in California where parents of a child who have christian roots, claim that “two 30 minute yoga classes a week threaten religious freedom and is equal to religious indoctrination.”. The parents went on to sue the superintendent who himself does not really see any problem and has actually spoken highly of the program since it has started in the school. He went on to state that teachers and parents have noticed that the children who are enrolled in the yoga sessions seem much calmer. I think we need to question that eliminating the influence of any religion being taught or practiced in school that we might be running into a problem of potentially dismissing the value of spiritual development and growth for our youth.
The practice of yoga is meant to find focus on your inner self. It teaches us ways to get in touch with who we are deep inside, and to help us develop a sense of intuition.I think in providing this opportunity to children where they spend the majority of there years as youth is exactly what is needed for their growth and the growth of our education system. Spirituality is an important developmental process that I believe is already a part of our lives, but it just takes some time to find and understand. I think it can be seen naturally at work in schools already through social-emotional learning, and character development. This process has the potential to contribute to our youths’ emotional well-being, resilience and bullying prevention, which is why I think it is very likely that programs addressing children’s spiritual development will continue to gain support from schools.
One example is found in a study called “Spirituality, Religiousness, and Happiness in Children Aged 8-12” which was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2008. This study showed that children who were more spiritual indicated being happier through an assessment of self-reports and survey questions.
One year ago I decided to join a yoga practice and give it a chance. I was in search for another form of exercise and stretching, with no real idea of the spiritual side of the practice or the psychological benefits that it could produce. I could not be happier with my decision to just give it shot, because over the past year I have been personally liberated in many ways. I really have found that my practice in yoga has taught me much better and simpler methods for dealing with stress and has brought me to being more aware of my own actions and thoughts. I now see that yoga can give people a fun, rewarding and shared experience while still keep the focus of the practice on developing your own assets. I have witnessed and been a part of the many benefits that yoga can produce in only a year, and to think of the potential it could have in our youths lives is truly uplifting. I think everyone should give this practice of body and mind a real chance and then formulate an opinion on whether it has a rightful spot in our schools and in our child’s lives.
Holder, M., Coleman, B., & Wallace, J. (2008). Spirituality, Religiousness, and Happiness in Children Aged 8-12 Years. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 131-150.
Marty Graham. ( February 8, 2013). Parents Sue School for Teaching Yoga to Children.
Darla Hernandez. (September 17, 2014). Yoga for Kids Gaining Popularity in Schools and Studios.