”We want to make it just as important of a subject as math or history”
With students besieged by competitive classes, mountains of homework, and strenuous after-school recreational activities (and, yes, playing Pokémon GO on their smartphones), the simple practice of yoga can be an unexpectedly important study buddy for teachers and pupils alike in need of stress relief during this back-to-school season.
“Increasingly, teachers are pressured to bring wellness into the classroom because there is less time for things like lunch, recess, and moments in the day that are set aside for time that is not directly school work,” Nicole Cardoza, founder of Yoga Foster, a nonprofit that aims to “empower school teachers with yoga for the classroom through training and curriculum on movement and mindfulness,” told GOOD.
Yoga Foster—one of the initiatives highlighted by Lululemon Athletica’s Here to Be program—has brought yoga to 750 schools across 39 states, adding up to an estimated 413,100 minutes of yoga practiced and more than 10,000 yoga mats donated to classrooms to date. “Our intention is to foster a community of yogis in a school,” Cardoza said. “We want to be able to make this practice a part of the every day and make it just as important of a subject as math or history.”
Beyond offering all training and education to students and teachers free of charge, Cardoza says there is a practical benefit to folding the mindful practices of Yoga Foster into the academic curriculum. “Moving and breathing,” she says, can happen “pretty much anywhere within the school walls,” including gyms, cafeterias, playgrounds, or the hallway. “Yoga doesn’t take up much space and you can practice in small periods of time,” she added. “You can even do yoga sitting in a chair.”
Whether you’re on a jungle gym or in the computer lab, Cardoza has offered up her tips on practicing yoga in tight spaces:
Get in Where You Fit in
Leverage obstacles like desks or chairs and “use them as props to provide increased opportunity for stretch and movement.”
Less Is More
Movements should be limited to grounded poses, such as Child’s Pose or Downward Facing Dog, which are accessible for beginners or students of varying abilities.
Focusing on breath retention and yoga breathing techniques help “emphasize the idea of making space internally throughout the body by breathing into different parts of the body to expand.”
Editor’s Note: GOOD maintains a paid relationship with Lululemon. The mention in this piece is unpaid.