A classroom full of pint size participants was treated to an introduction to yoga earlier this month. Thanks to the partnering of Magnolia Elementary T-K teacher Michelle Jones and expertise of OJUSD Paraprofessional and Certified Baptiste Yoga teacher Kim Manley, close to 20 five-year-olds were guided through some basic poses and a lesson in mindfulness.
“I’ve always had a little paper with five poses and I use it to help them breathe and think quietly,” Jones said of her classroom’s exposure prior to Manley’s visit. “It’s one of my go to’s to create calm.”
According to Jones, Manley reached out, offering to teach a morning session, which included reading a yoga based (age appropriate book) and a yoga practice which was about 15 to 20 minutes.
“I feel like every child should have yoga in school,” Manley said. “Its physical, mental and emotional benefits are ideal for today’s children, encountering the stress they are continually under.”
A practitioner as well as teacher of the practice of yoga, Manley shared connection with self, others and creation of community as important attributes of a continuous practice.
“In a world that is becoming more and more technologically complex and structured, yoga gives children an amazing opportunity to exercise their creative abilities in a fun, non-competitive atmosphere,” she said.
Following their session with Manley, Jones had the students journal on their experiences. Drawings accompanied by words shared with Jones and her aide included: “I feel stronger.”; “I felt happy and strong.” and “….it makes my heart feel warm.”
“The children thoroughly loved it,” Jones said. “Imagine if every class participated in a 15 to 20 minute yoga practice before they began their school day. Talk about mindfully changing the world one child at a time.”
Both women shared their vision of hoping to one day see a practice of yoga used within the school sites, even if just a couple of days a week, noting the benefits as equal too, or greater than that which students gain from traditional physical activity.