Mindfulness in the Schools

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by Sharon Persky

Children and teens are stressed out from rushing, over-scheduling, homework, and, do I dare mention, social media. The disconnection between mind and body is so systemic that suicide, drugs and alcohol are increasingly the sad solutions to relieving stress and anxiety. There is a mental health crisis amongst our youth, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has implemented a NYS Mental Health Mandate down to the schools. The requirements to be in compliance allows school districts flexibility to implement different programs to achieve these goals. Yoga and Mindfulness is one of the programs accessible. Mindfulness not only ticks many boxes for the mandate, it also supports the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum already in place. While research is still young with regard to mindfulness and children on its own, SEL has substantial research and assessments available by thee Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) (casel.org). The interconnectedness of mindfulness and SEL go together like peanut butter and jelly.

I was fortunate to attend the 10th annual Mindful Educator Conference, at Omega Institute, in Rhinebeck, New York, this past summer. Attending were teachers, social workers, administrators and providers of mindfulness. Speakers shared their success stories and the benefits in schools. They spoke of reduced anxiety for students and teachers, higher attendance, lower suspensions, student empowerment, and students ready to learn. All positive outcomes from different models of implementation. All agreed the most important key to the program is to first teach the educators how to establish their own mindful practice. The premise is that in order for educators to implement mindfulness with integrity in the classroom, they first need to feel it in their own bodies. A great analogy is the safety instructions on any airline, which state, “Put the oxygen mask on first before trying to help someone else.” The same holds true with mindfulness—the educator needs to be ready to teach, so that they can assist the students to be ready to learn.

If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness for yourself or how to implement a program in your school, Yoga Nanda has many offerings available and will be happy to answer any questions on upcoming trainings. For more information, visit Yoga-Nanda.com/mindfulness-practice-programs.

Sharon Persky is a yoga and mindfulness educator, a wife and mother of two teenage boys who lives in Long Beach. She is an experienced registered yoga teacher, 500-hour training; a registered children’s yoga teacher; and a registered polarity practitioner.

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