McKinley-Brighton Students Learn Mindfulness Through Yoga

     Published on 3/11/16   Tagged under:    District News    McKinley-Brighton Elementary School   

Fourth and fifth graders at McKinley-Brighton remove their shoes and quietly scramble up the steps to the school stage, each taking their place on a brightly colored yoga mat. The lights are dim, soft music is playing, and the kids are visibly excited.
 
Thanks to a grant from the SCSD Educational Foundation, these students are taking part in a six-week program focused on yoga and mindfulness, at the request of Speech-Language Pathologist Megan Luton.
 
Taught by a certified Yoga for Kids instructor, each week, students learn a new focus around mindfulness. One week, students learned about heart fullness and the idea of the giving of themselves to others. Another week, they learned about generosity and the importance of having an open heart as they practiced poses that symbolize reaching out to others.
 
“At McKinley-Brighton, we have a staff that is highly supportive of new and novel approaches to helping our students navigate the daily challenges of academic and social stress,” Ms. Luton explained. “There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that students who are engaged in yoga and mindfulness training have multiple durable benefits from participation, including greater attentiveness and focus, better self-esteem, lower levels of stress and improved emotional regulation and impulse control.”
 
Ms. Luton noted that after just the first few classes, she observed students becoming more confident and willing to try new things. They were actively participating, working independently and were even implementing the breathing and techniques from the course during their academic classes!
 
Fifth grade Armond Sampson explained how the classes have helped him. “Yoga looks easy but is kind of hard! But the moves are easy once you know them,” he said. “They’ve helped me get rid of my stress and not get mad at people.”
 
Classmate Envy Robinson agreed. “Sometimes I get angry, but yoga helps me calm down. I just have to count to 10 or do the downward dog pose. It’s relaxing!”
 
In addition to the yoga courses, the Ed Foundation grant also funded the purchase of a set of 24 yoga mats for students and a set of DVDs, games, posters and yoga pose cards so that after the yoga program has been completed, classroom teachers are able to continue to provide yoga-based and mindfulness activities to enhance students’ well-being. This is one of 19 projects funded by the SCSD Educational Foundation in 14 schools this year, totaling $50,000. The SCSD Educational Foundation has funded more than $750,000 in SCSD projects since 2003.