You don’t have to change your life to do yoga. You just do yoga and it changes your life.
- Amy Hori, co-founder of Hip HopYoga
Question: “I am a public school art teacher in East New York, Brooklyn. I am having a lot of trouble with 4th grade students after recess. Some come in crying. Some are hitting each other. They are screaming. It's a bit of a mess. What is the best strategy to work with after recess? Does your book talk about this specific time? Would you suggest using the posters?
Answer: Try this beginning tomorrow—In the beginning of the academic day have the students begin their day by practicing their breathing. Simply focus on their breathing in and out with their eyes closed. Lift arms on the inhale to a count of four, dropping arms down to the side to the count of four on the exhale. Then sometime in the morning, when they need a physical activity break, teach them two or all of the yoga poses in the packet. Now you have taught them the skills they need for a peaceful after recess time. You also need a classical music CD.
Before you dismiss them for recess inform them that as a class you will be doing something special after recess. They should enter the room quietly and go to their desk for the activity. They are to follow your lead.
When they enter the room after recess, you have the lights dimmed or turned off and the classical music playing. If students are crying and hitting each other or screaming, simply stand in the middle of the room lifting your arms on the inhale and dropping them down on the exhale. Say nothing. Keep practicing your breathing until all of your students are doing it with you. Together take a few deep breaths. Then lead them through the yoga poses that you have taught them.
The last thing that you do is a memory minute. Have students sit in their chairs and close their eyes. Instruct them to think about one thing that they are good at—a good student, a good reader, a good child—anything that makes them proud. They are to say this one thing over and over to themselves for one minute. Say “Your memory minute begins now.” At the end of one minute, instruct the students to open their eyes. Turn off the classical music. Turn on the lights. Begin your instruction.
Do not be discouraged if it takes a few days to get the students into the routine. Remember that you are trying to break a cycle, and that is never easy. It is imperative that you are consistent. The students must know that whatever happens outside stays outside. You will not vary from your yoga time. It is a precious time for relaxation and reflection. If it is serious infraction, it can be addressed after yoga.
Also use yoga and breathing throughout the day as a transition between subjects and to provide physical activity breaks. Make it an integral part of your classroom culture.
For more wellness classroom management techniques, pick up a copy of Mindful Practices' new book Cooling Down Your Classroom. The easy-to-implement book provides proven yoga and wellness strategies to improve classroom management and academic achievement including the yoga poses and techniques used here in this teacher tip!
- Teacher Tip Provided Mindful Practices’ founder Carla Tantillo.