For a recent Yoga Calm workshop, school counselor Bonnie Cannon wrote an insightful commentary on her developing awareness of yoga as self-study and how this may benefit the children she works with. We asked if we could share her good words on our blog. We were happy to hear, “Yes.” Thanks, Bonnie!
The primary understanding that I took away from this weekend workshop, which I had not recognized before, was that yoga is self-study.
I had been teaching students poses, facilitating games and guiding discussions designed to elicit understandings and connections on a theoretical level, and the students had been responding positively. But I realized during this workshop that the teaching could be more powerful and more effective by helping students to connect, explore and understand their physical experiences as well.
With that in mind, I will now be asking more experiential questions: “How did that feel?” rather than, “What can we learn from that?” Most students are encouraged to spend an inordinate amount of time in their heads during the school day, and very little attention is paid to what is happening in their bodies. In fact, often they are expected to ignore or suppress what is happening in their bodies.
But our bodies, our feelings, and our thoughts are intricately connected, and students will be most successful if we can provide a balanced educational experience that encourages them to understand what is happening in their bodies, how that affects what they are feeling, how that in turn affects what they are thinking, and how all of that affects their ability to learn and retain information presented in the classroom.
Students are not taught in a vacuum. A student who is experiencing high levels of chronic stress will not be able to attend to, retain and recall information as well as a student who is able to recognize stress in the body and release it.
The self-study focus of yoga and Yoga Calm helps students to better understand and recognize what is happening in their bodies so that they will be able to make decisions and take actions that benefit their bodies and maximize their ability to learn and reach their full potential. This can happen in targeted, direct ways such as learning to recognize when the body is hungry and the effects different foods have on it, and learning to fuel the body for optimum performance. It can also happen in less tangible ways such as experiencing the good feelings that come with giving and receiving a compliment or support during a task, and then continuing to compliment or support others, thereby increasing ones own confidence, self-esteem and serotonin levels, as well as creating a more positive, cooperative learning environment, all of which will ultimately lead to increases in academic performance.”