SEL in PE: Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness

In this episode of the PE Express podcast, 2018 TAHPERD teacher of the year, Chris Nichols, shares how he teaches yoga and mindfulness in PE. He also shares his experience with the newest service learning program from SHAPE America, health. moves. minds.

Welcome to the PE express podcast. Today I want to share some information on yoga and incorporating social emotional learning in the physical education classroom.

[00:43] I always talk about my roots growing up in a small rural community in Oklahoma. You name the sport. I played it. If the sport was football, basketball, or baseball, a small town often equals limited introduction to new activities. Even after many years of teaching, I still never dove into the world of yoga.

That changed three years ago when I transitioned into a Montessori environment. It began with these two quotes from the Montessori training.

“If we consider physical life on one side and mental life on the other, we break the cycle of relation in the actions of man remained separated from the brain.”

“The true objective of movement is not to favor better breathing or nutrition, but rather to serve all of life and the spiritual and universal economy of the world.” Maria Montessori. Wow! That was a lot for me to digest.

The Benefits of Yoga in PE

[01:37] The benefits of yoga in physical educatio: It improves flexibility. It builds muscle strength, helps with posture and improves balance. There are many ways that we can align the physical benefits of yoga to our national physical education standards, but the greatest benefits I have noticed involved using the tenants of yoga in our Montessori environment.

Mindfulness in PE:

[02:00] The practice of mindfulness, calm bodies and calm minds is used throughout my school. We live in a very fast paced environment where we’re constantly moving from one thing to another. Some children struggle with the self regulation needed to experience calm and relaxation. In fact, you probably know several adults who struggle with this as well. At my school, we take time in the classroom and the physical education setting to explicitly teach breathing and mindfulness technique. Yoga pairs well with this, allowing students to slow down and notice what is happening with their bodies. Yoga teaches children to breathe deep, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Since moving to the Montessori campus, I’ve seen progress and the ability of students to calm down, quiet their minds, and handle stress using yoga and breathing techniques.

My Experience with health. moves. minds.

[02:49] One activity we do is mindful minute. We close our eyes, we focus on our breathing and we notice what is around us. We also work on deep breathing. Take a deep breath in, so deep your belly pokes out. Count to four as you breathe in slowly and deeply. Count to four again, as you exhale slowly and quietly and then last muscle relaxation. Start at your head and work down to your feet. Squeeze each muscle tight and hold that position. Relax the muscle. A great partnership Gopher has now with shape America is the program health. moves. minds. across the country, today’s children and adolescents do not get enough physical activity and are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. The health. moves. minds. programs brings the lessons, activities, and community building ideas that can help kids live their best lives, inspire healthy habits, fuel active minds, and teach kids to thrive physically and emotionally with this new science service learning program.

[03:57] Research supports that the results of this instruction extend far beyond physical and emotional wellbeing. For additional information, check out the website for a collaborative for academic, social, and emotional learning. Thank you for listening and have a great day.

Chris has been a Physical Educator for 22 years in Texas. He has been recognized as a district finalist for Teacher of the Year and formerly served as the Early Childhood Chair Elect for the Texas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD). Chris has presented at state and national conferences and spent two years writing curriculum, creating and delivering professional development, and supporting physical education teachers as a Health and Physical Education Specialist in a large urban district. Now an elementary Physical Education teacher in Garland ISD, Chris strives to promote a healthy and physically active lifestyle in both his personal and professional life.

Chris has been a Physical Educator for 22 years in Texas. He has been recognized as a district finalist for Teacher of the Year and formerly served as the Early Childhood Chair Elect for the Texas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD). Chris has presented at state and national conferences and spent two years writing curriculum, creating and delivering professional development, and supporting physical education teachers as a Health and Physical Education Specialist in a large urban district. Now an elementary Physical Education teacher in Garland ISD, Chris strives to promote a healthy and physically active lifestyle in both his personal and professional life.

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