Teach Yoga in Schools
Though there have been more and more kids’ yoga classes in studios, not every family has the finances to send their children to classes that cost between $15 and $20.
More public and private schools, however, are welcoming yoga into their doors and curricula. Learning yoga in school helps children learn how to control and channel their energy so that they can concentrate better and think more clearly.
YogaKids of Long Beach, Indiana and Yoga Ed of Los Angeles, California are two organizations that train yoga and school teachers about how they can adapt their teaching to meet the short attention spans and special needs of schoolchildren. These organizations provide assistance to yoga teachers who want to establish classes in schools, receive funding for their programs and sometimes train teachers to ultimately integrate certain yoga practices into the classroom.
The Niroga Institute of Oakland, California has a two-day Yoga Corps training that it runs twice annually for yoga teachers who are interested in learning about effective classroom communication in schools. The Niroga Institute has contracts with various schools in the San Francisco Bay Area that pay a fee for yoga classes Niroga’s teachers provide during their school hours.
The Niroga Institute utilizes a special 15 minute “Transformative Life Skills” session in classrooms that incorporates movement, breathing and meditation. The organization uses this short period of time due to the short attention spans of students. Sometimes yoga teachers provide this 15 minute training. Niroga trains teachers to lead these sessions in their own classrooms as well.
One student Niroga has reached with this program stated “I really like this program. It helps a lot to calm me down and helps me refocus for class. It clears my mind of distractions and helps me focus on the importance of simple things.”
Wellness Works in the Classroom is an organization that provides schoolchildren 45-50 minute sessions that include yoga poses, breathing, relaxation and group discussion and reflection activities. The organization offers professional development workshops and classroom integration teacher training for school teachers to incorporate yoga-related activities into their classrooms.
Yoga in Schools is a non-profit that integrates yoga instruction into physical education classes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It trains schools teachers to use yoga in their classrooms to help students concentrate better.
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Teaching in Schools
Due to the strict separation of church and state that is upheld particularly in American schools, yoga teachers who provide yoga-related instruction in schools have found it is important to focus solely on the universal aspects of the practice. Sanskrit chants are often removed from yoga classes in schools and the American names for the poses are generally used instead of the Sanskrit names.
While many organizations primarily cater to training school teachers in how to use yoga in the classroom, there are some groups that support yoga teachers who wish to teach in traditional classroom settings. The Niroga Institute, Usha Yoga Foundation, TerraMundi World Wellness and Satya Foundation offer grants to yoga teachers who wish to teach in public schools.
The Kripalu and Iyengar Yoga Schools both offer grants for yoga students who wish to become teachers. After completing their yoga teacher trainings, these grant recipients make a commitment to provide yoga classes for children in underserved school communities. The Yoga Alliance organization (responsible for accrediting yoga teacher training programs) is in the process of creating a similar type of grant.
Though it can be challenging for yoga teachers to procure grant funding to teach yoga in schools, offering free yoga classes in local schools is a great way for new and aspiring yoga teachers to develop their teaching skills. Many new yoga teachers teach yoga in schools as a way to gain the experience needed to branch out into teaching yoga in local studios and centers. Others find the experience of volunteering as a yoga teacher in schools to be a rewarding activity in and of itself.