Do you have children who exhibit the following behaviors?
Believe it or not, all of these behaviors are possible indicators of stress in the classroom. In her book, Yoga for Children; 200+Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children, author Lisa Flynn explains that when we are stressed, our bodies release hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, to help us. You can feel your heart rate go up, your muscles tense, and blood is moved to our large organs to help us in our fight or flight response. This is great when we were in a dangerous situation and need to get away, but most of the time we are not truly in danger. When this happens over time, it can lead to chronic stress. Brains under stress have a hard time focusing and learning.
To help alleviate stress in the classroom, try using yoga and breathing exercises. Breathing is the one thing that we can control that can actually change our state of mind! Try using one of the following practices, as suggested by Flynn (2013), with your students to help calm the mind and body.
Have children sit with pretzel legs. Have children hold both hands in front of their chest and point both pointer fingers up to the sky (to make a candle). Tell children to pretend that their candle has a flame on top. Have children slowly breathe in through their nose to fill up their tummy. Ask children to slowly exhale through the mouth to blow out the candle. Repeat.
Have children lie down on their tummy as they cross their arms in and rest their head on top of them. Children can turn their head to either side then slowly inhale and exhale through their nose. Repeat twice. This is a great activity to do just before rest time.
Flynn, L. 2013. Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children. Avon, MA: Adams Media.