Yoga in the Classroom – Relax the Test!

Today I gave a presentation on Yoga mindfulness relaxation techniques for test taking and general stress reduction to a group of elementary teachers in my home town.  I mentioned the research studies that link Yoga practices in the classroom with better focus and more positive attitude in children and called myself a “Yoga Geek”; funny – but true!  It was humbling to know that these incredible teachers already implement many wonderful techniques to help the students focus, prepare for tests and feel relaxed in each school day.  These teachers don’t necessarily want or need another curriculum idea!  However, I was excited to share some very simple, easy to “slip in” Yoga mindfulness tools that can be used during exams, transitions, or even given to students to use anytime needed during a regular day.  One of the teachers mentioned that she is already seeing her students regularly using the exercises at their desks ( I had previously taught some of the Yoga tools to Relax the test to her class).  This was great to hear!  A fabulous and easy technique I showed the teachers today is called the “Chi Ball”.  Students gently clap and/or rub their hands together, then separate the hands a few inches, feel the sensation between their hands while breathing easily and fully, and firmly plant both feet on the ground.  Kids can make a “ball” with their “energy” between the hands; to stretch, shape and compress the “Energy Ball”.  This exercise quickly focuses and calms children and they love it!  One of my favorite stories about the “Chi Ball” was from a high school age Yoga student of mine who loved the technique so much she started teaching it to her friends.  “It helps them calm down and get centered”, she said.  While I realize that teachers have less and less time for any extra curriculum in grade school (or any) classes, and that they are doing an amazing job at preparing the students for the benchmark tests, this kind of Yoga mindfulness tool is short and unobtrusive, and can help kids during the long exam process (or during a regular day).  Hearing inspirational stories about Yoga in the classroom keeps me energized as a teacher of all ages.  Getting to share some Yoga tools with the best of the best teachers at Zilker elementary in Austin, Texas was such an honor.  I am reminded that gratitude is the finest form of mindfulness. Kids are our best teachers.

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