Establishing a classroom yoga practice can help to create an atmosphere of family, compassion and empathy. You don’t have to be a yoga expert, though a little experience is helpful. I started practicing yoga with my transitional kindergarten students after taking a class and getting certified by YOGAed, an organization that teaches teachers how to incorporate yoga into classroom routine.
I immediately noticed the benefits of a weekly practice as the children relaxed, stretched and connected with me and with each other. I introduced simple yoga asanas, or poses such as cobra, downward dog, mountain pose and tree pose. As the children mastered each pose, we began to connect them together in a short yoga “flow” series. I usually put on slow, soft classical music as we practice.
We begin each yoga practice by calming our bodies with slow breaths accompanied by a soft chime. This signals the beginning of our special time and lets the children ease into the practice. We then stand in mountain pose and set intentions, in other words, think of something we want to achieve through the practice. In the beginning I suggest intentions, such as, to enjoy our class family time, to find our calm center, or to focus on sending love into the world. As the children become accustomed to the routine, we also can just use the silence to think our own thoughts.
Moving and stretching together creates a positive physical experience that transfers into the more academic part of our day. Yoga breathing and simple stretches can serve as transitions from one activity to another, calm a child, bring focus to the group and are a great movement break.
Although I practice yoga on my own, outside of school, I have been excited and inspired by the children’s love of yoga. When they notice that yoga is on the daily schedule, they actually clap their hands!
Our guest blogger, Mrs. Amy K. Weisberg is a wife, mother of three grown daughters, teacher and writer. She holds a B.A. degree in Sociology from the University of California Santa Barbara, a teaching credential from California State University Northridge, a Language Development Specialist credential and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration with an Emphasis on Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University.
Mrs. Amy K. Weisberg has been teaching for 35 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District in California. She has taught in East LA, South Central LA, the East San Fernando Valley, the West San Fernando Valley and has been teaching at Topanga Elementary Charter School for the past 20 years. She has taught Pre-School, Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd, grade, 4th grade and 6th grade.
Mrs. Weisberg has conducted numerous professional developments for school staff including the LAUSD West Area, and District training sessions for the School Readiness Language Development Program. She has presented at the California Kindergarten Conference, Southern California Kindergarten Conference, and the SCAEYC. She served on an Instructional Transformation Team instituting education reform during the LEARN movement in the LAUSD. In June 2007, Mrs. Weisberg was awarded the Lori Petrick Educator Award for Excellence in Education from the Palisades Charter Schools Foundation.