Back to School Yoga
Will I like my new teacher? Who will I sit next to in lunch? New friends, new activities, wanting to get good grades and be successful can all lead to butterflies in stomachs and frogs in throats. Luckily, school yoga can help! The following poses and practices can help kids feel confident, calm down at their desks, build focus, and be stellar students in and out of the classroom.
Take Five Breath: This breathing exercise will help you concentrate before homework or a big test. Raise your hand into a peaceful-fist and on an inhale of 5 counts, extend your fingers. Exhale, counting to 5 and curling your fingers back into your palm. Slowing down your breath slows down your mind and calms emotions.
Mudras: A mudra is yoga for your hands, and can be done anywhere, anytime. These two mudras remind us that we are safe and loved.
Chin mudra: This classic mudra is familiar to lots of kids. Fold your pointer finger into your thumb leaving your other three fingers extended, making a kind of “OK sign.” This mudra does remind us that we are OK. The pointer finger represents you and the thumb represents the whole universe. This mudra reminds us that we are cared for by the whole universe, it is literally holding us like the thumb is holding the pointer finger.
Hold My Heart mudra: Interlace your fingers, keeping your thumbs pointing upwards, and then bring your hands to your heart. This mudra reminds us that we can hold and take care of our own hearts. We are safe and can take care of ourselves, with love. We are independent.
Washing Machine and Dryer: These twists and stretches can be done at the school desk. First sit up straight with both feet grounded on the floor. Then twist your upper body (from your belly button up) toward the right. Maybe bring your right hand to the back of your chair and your left hand to the chair seat. Feel the twist in your spine. On the inhale, sit up further, on the exhale, twist deeper. Then on the inhale, twist to the left. Twists wash out your inside, like a washing machine, and get the energy moving!
After we try washing machine we can try the dryer. Stretch your legs out in front of you and shake them. Shake your arms, your fingers, your head, every part of your body bit by bit, as if you are drying them off. Shaking out the energy can make you more ready to go back to school work.
Waterfall Stretch: Also while you’re sitting in your chair, inhale your arms up high, and then exhale, folding forward over your seated legs. Inhale your arms back up, and exhale them to the ground again. Try grasping opposite elbows as you exhale into yourself. Water sounds are optional. :) Get your breath and energy moving so you can get back to your school work refreshed!
Tree Pose: Get on your feet and stand behind your school chair. Put all your weight into your left foot and inhale your right foot to your right shin or thigh. Try extending your arms up high, or holding onto the back of your chair for balance. See how long you can hold your tree. Think about what kind of tree you’d like to be. Then switch to your right side. Don’t forget to move with your breath! By focusing on balance we can help our minds focus for studies.
School yoga has been show to increase academic performance, ease social anxiety and increase self-esteem -- all elements that add up to a great school year in anyone’s book.