Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sitting Still Like a Frog: The Importance of Mindfulness Practice in Schools

Parents, this is a post from my education blog, Teach and Touch Lives. Enjoy :)

A frog is a remarkable creature. It is capable of enormous leaps, but it can also sit very, very still. Although it is aware of everything that happens in and around it, the frog tends not to react right away. The frog sits still and breathes, preserving its energy instead of getting carried away by all the ideas that keep popping into its head. The frog sits still, very still, while it breathes. 

My first year of teaching was absolutely incredible but it was also very exhausting. I got to work early and stayed late and spent most of my free time working on lesson plans or thinking about how to improve my classroom. The first semester, I left no time for myself. My life was a constant stream of Go, Go, Go. During winter break I had the major realization that in order to be the best teacher I could be, I had to make time for myself. I had to relax. I had to find time to just be still.

As a full-time dream chaser, this wasn't easy for me. I found that it was difficult to do nothing--I felt like I always had to be doing something. That's when yoga became an important aspect of my life. I made a commitment to myself to practice yoga more often and I soon began doing it every single morning. I noticed such a huge change in my energy and attitude. I was able to focus better, teach better, and sleep better. I soon started practicing yoga in the morning with my students with the hope that it would help them prepare for their busy days. I wasn't sure what to expect but they ended up LOVING it and it soon became part of our morning routine. 

This summer one of my friends introduced me to a very special book: Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel which emphasizes the importance of mindfulness exercises for kids. Eline writes "The practice of mindfulness at any age is both simple and profound. Above all, it involves learning--learning how to cultivate greater self-awareness and greater awareness of others and the world."

"Because mindfulness is really about attention and the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, it is at its core universal. It does not belong to any culture or tradition or belief system. And, as we have seen, it is basic to learning anything. For this reason, and especially given the growing evidence of its efficacy in different domains, more and more teachers...are bringing mindfulness to K-12 education"

Last week I introduced my new second graders to yoga and this week I am going to introduce them to mindfulness using helpful exercises from Sitting Still Like a Frog. My goal is to practice yoga three days per week and mindfulness exercises twice per week. I am confident that integrating this into our morning routine will help calm and prepare my seven-year-olds for the busy school days ahead of them. Do you practice mindfulness or yoga with your students or children? Comment below to let me know! 


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