It’s amazing to realize that, today, twice as many kids are doing yoga than just five years ago.
According to the latest figures from the CDC, 8.4% of youth now practice yoga. Back in 2012, only 3% did. Meditation practices have increased more than five-fold.
That’s incredible. And wonderful.
But it also attests to the fact that there’s a real need for these proven interventions in light of rising rates of anxiety, stress, and depression among youth today – not to mention the impact of childhood trauma that significantly impacts about half the student population.
Recently, we were contacted by syndicate news network The Now to talk about the new interest in yoga and mindfulness in the classroom, along with SEL. A bit of our conversation:
Why Schools Are Turning to SEL & Mindful Movement
These days, it seems you can’t look at an education website, blog, newsletter, or podcast without hearing about the explosion of interest in implementing such programs in our nation’s schools.
After all, they typically mean better behavior and a more positive school community; better focus and academic results; lower stress and less anxiety. Educators also understand that with the way that the job market is changing, the “soft skills” and emotional intelligence nurtured through such programs will be ever more in demand.
The challenge, of course, is how do you fit this into an already packed school day?
That’s why we’ve rolled out a new program, Empower.
Empowering Students – Heart, Mind, & Body
Based on Yoga Calm’s award-winning curriculum, Empower is a ready-made, science-based curriculum you can implement in your classroom right now.
Designed for elementary students, Empower creatively integrates neuroscience education with daily movement and mindfulness practices, and social‐emotional learning to nurture better behavior and learning outcomes while supporting health and well-being.
The core is an innovative set of three- to seven-minute animated videos featuring engaging neuroscience instructor Mandy B and her adorable dog Junebug. Mandy explains how our brains and bodies work, and the importance of movement, mindfulness and social connection in helping us to reduce stress, learn more, sustain positive relationships, and stay physically healthy.
Ten integrated lesson plans include these brain science videos. Also included are four-minute “Kids Follow Along” videos in which diverse youth lead mindful movement activities to help students regulate, focus, and connect.
These videos can also be used apart from the lesson plans at any time. And more, once students have practiced the sequences, your own students can lead them, thus providing additional motivation, peer support, and reinforcement.
Lesson plans also include coloring sheets, vocabulary and discussion prompts for engaging, immersive, and differentiated learning.
Teachers report that such movement sequences and mindfulness activities also reduce their own stress, because they reduce student behavior issues and actually “buy” instructional time by helping students regulate, focus and build supportive and productive classroom communities. In addition, they also meet various education standards and physical activity recommendations.
And all you need to do is just push “play” and go.