Several years ago, I started taking yoga classes. While it certainly helped me to become more flexible, it also helped me center myself and relax. Each yoga class ended with the instructor giving us a card with an inspirational message on it. We often ended class by comparing our messages and discussing how they “hit home” for many of us. As this summer ended and the beginning of a new academic year drew closer, I thought about how the practice of yoga could work for the 5th graders I teach each day.
Entering Middle School is a huge transition for many 5th graders. They now have lockers, schedules, and several teachers. At first they worry about getting lost, which of course never happens. They worry about forgetting their books, homework, or other supplies. But to help ease those fears, during the first couple of weeks, we would talk about what was going well and what was difficult. Then, we would take time to breathe and stretch, and remember that everything will work out just fine. As week two turned into week three, the children began to adjust to the routine. When things were stressful again, we would take time to breathe, relax, and remember that they will, indeed, be fine.
This quarter, yoga was offered as a club in the Middle School, and it has turned out to be very popular. In fact, more children wanted to join than room could allow! Teaching our children to take a few minutes to focus on themselves and their breathing helps to alleviate their concerns. Now I have to smile when I hear the children tell each other to “just breathe.”