• Suzanne Nason

Why Schools Need Yoga and Mindfulness

Bringing wellness to classrooms will not only reduce stress and anxiety, but also boost performance and satisfaction for all—students, teachers, parents, and the community in general. Here’s how.

Pure Edge supports the development of social, emotional, and academic learning competencies “with an open heart and an open mind,” according to the organization’s mission. It is particularly helpful in school populations impacted by PTSD, student trauma and anxiety, and symptomology related to ADHD.

“Our primary goal is to help foster community success through focus. Building resilience is key,” says Kim. The curriculum, which is the subject of ongoing research conducted by Stanford University, has served more than 300,000 children, grades K-12, across the country. Its mindfulness-based practices encourage students and teachers to deepen their emotional self-regulation, find calm, and manage stress. Movement-based exercises consist of seated twists and body-awareness tech- niques that bring individuals into the present moment.

“When kids feel safe, supported, and calm, they can focus better on the challenging tasks they have to complete,” says Dawn Brooks DeCosta, principal of Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School in New York City. The school has been facilitating Pure Edge mindfulness-based practices, such as “brain breaks,” which offer an oasis for kids and teachers, allowing them to foster self-value and resilience.

One of the biggest issues that Pure Edge is working
on now is caregiver burnout and its devastating effects.

“Adults have to manage their levels of stress in order to be their best for the children,” Kim says. Makes sense, but in our cur- rent round-the-clock work culture, caregivers, too often, succumb to burnout, forgetting to practice self-care first. This is often the hardest part of the work—getting parents, teachers, and others to implement the caregiving for themselves. Pure Edge has helped more than 6,000 educators and administrators, most of whom report that the breathing exercises they learned were useful for balancing emotions and self-care.

“Teachers are 110 percent givers, all the time. They feel guilty for taking time to take care of themselves. Our core intention is to bring them calm, and make self-care more socially acceptable,” says Kim. “To be present, you have to feel valued and loved. And once that comes from within, we can share this with others.”

If you are interested in learning more about Pure Edge, the curriculum is available to anyone, free of charge. A simple practice that can help soothe your nerves—as well as your kids—at any time is Mindfulness of Breath, an exercise Pure Edge uses to facilitate connection. Try this easy, four-step balloon breathing technique whenever you need to feel insta-calm.

Balloon Breathing

  1. Find a comfortable seat.
  2. Imagine your belly is a balloon and start to breathe consciously, inflating with air for three counts and gently exhaling for three counts.
  3. Repeat three times, or as many as you wish.
  4. Notice how you are feeling calmer, refreshed, and more at ease.
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