4 ways to practice mindfulness in the classroom

My son is already back at school and it is evident that he is feeling a little overwhelmed with – Getting up in the morning
– Getting his stuff ready to go to school
– New lessons, students and
– A new structure.
I keep saying that he should just:
– Stop and think
– Take a breath
– Take a little more time…
Basically be more present in the moment and the task at hand…
Practice mindfulness!

Because mindfulness is simply paying attention and it is often the one thing kids don’t do, while trying their best, they still act on impulse.
This is also the case in school and you can see it in the teachers’ comments:
“He is great but he needs to not rush”
“He is brilliant, but could be better if he paid more attention”
“He made 2 silly mistakes during his test, I bet he is now beating himself up about it”… and so on!

But there is a way with yoga in the classroom to provide children with the tools they need to be present, mindfulness tools!
Even though a lot of the things that children are asked to do in the classroom already can be considered as mindfulness, many kids and adults find it very hard to concentrate, and immerse themselves in a task fully and efficiently.

But with yoga and mindful yoga breaks in the classroom this can become easier over time and with frequent practice.

The Importance of Mindfulness.

Mindfulness trains the mind

  • To develop awareness
  • Achieve mental Clarity
  • Feel emotionally more stable

This is important because children are inexperienced at dealing with life challenges , discomforts and disagreements , so often these things can be blown out of proportion.

Mindfulness though can help to create awareness, clarity and stability in the kids lives. It becomes this tool that can be utilised when the going gets tough.

Yoga and mindfulness in the classroom can therefore provide the tools to create emotional distance from thoughts and create a break in the mental storm.

The Benefits of mindfulness in the classroom.

The benefits of this practice is that it leads to:

  • Better self control and emotional regulation.
  • Improved self esteem and confidence.
  • Relaxation
  • Finding new ways to express and be creative.
  • Increased concentration in the classroom.

These benefits can be immediate but more long lasting when practiced over long periods of time in the classroom.

Ways to practice being mindful

MOVEMENT

Movement, because it is easier to start working with the body.

Movement:

  • Creates physical awareness (grounding)
  • Releases tension in the body
  • Enhances our mood

PLAY

We all need to lighten up and have fun. Fun is a vehicle to happiness.

Fun is a great way to engage with the children.
Play and having fun is a great way to learn.

BREATHE

Breathing is living.

Through breathing techniques we can address many energetic imbalances such as fatigue B anxiety and promote relaxation.

By changing our breathing patterns we can also control our emotions and responses to events and difficult situations.

In yoga and mindfulness practices for children in the classroom breathing must remain simple, playful and achievable, in order for the kids to engage and have the desired effect. Avoid complicated breathing practices & ratios.
The aim is mainly to lengthen the breath and feel more relaxed.

MEDITATION

Meditation is many things, but 1st and foremost is being present.

Separating our thoughts from the past of future and simply engaging in the practice of Just observing ourselves

This can be challenging for the children, but just like a muscle the more you flex it the stronger it gets.

The trick is to engage in the practices of meditation frequently without expectations and to not take it too seriously , especially not at first.

Take a deep breath with the children. Do your best to engage with them and simply try and have fun.

Meditation should also not be hard, so you must find a practice (or many) that you and the children enjoy and practice daily.

Some suggestions are:

  • Silent walking (maybe while moving from one classroom to the next)
  • Using your senses (such as smell, touch and sound)
  • Using sound (example: bells, signing bowl, chimes)
  • Visualisations or reading a meaning fool story.

If the children appear resistant to these traditional methods you could also try

  • Drawing and crafts
  • Journaling
  • Reading a story

There is no absolute way to be mindful.
Movement, play breathing and meditation practices can really help develop a practice with the children that they can stick to on a regular basis. This is far more important than the duration of the practices.

Kids may appear initially resistant to meditation practices, it is therefore also important to have a lighter approach to mindful yoga breaks, mindfulness or meditation.. Don’t take it too seriously.

  • Try and have fun
  • Breathe deeply
  • Ultimately make it a break from their lessons.

Help children gain enthusiasm, a new perspective and hopefully peace from what stresses children out, rather than make it yet another task kids need to focus on.


Find out more about teaching Yoga in the Classroom here:

Yoga in the classroom course
Yoga in the classroom course