No matter what state or level you believe your department to be at, there is one activity that I would strongly encourage every PE/ Wellness teacher to explore because it has multiple benefits that can potentially impact every student who participates. Yoga might not be in most collegiate physical education teacher certification programs; however, it is an activity worthy of professional recognizance. I was fortunate to study at one of the best PE Teacher certification programs in New England and the country, BSU. And it did offer yoga as an activity class. However, I was not able to take the class due to my schedule. So, I had to learn to teach the activity on my own time. I jumped in to take a few yoga classes at the local YMCA and studied up on the poses via the library and internet. I convinced my department to allow me to teach a one-week pilot Yoga Unit and the rest is history, our kids LOVED the yoga unit! We definitely had some push-back from a variety of students; however, once we were into our first or second class, all reservations and complaining ceased. The kids could feel the calming, positive attributes as we slowly worked through the breathing and poses.
Yoga is an Equalizer Activity
In all honesty, one of the best components to teaching yoga is that it is a “big equalizer activity”. 99.9% of the kids do not know anything about the stretches, poses, or breathing so none of the kids can dominate or take any type of lead in the class. They really do have to pay close attention to the teacher’s instructions, coaching, and redirections to move along with you and the class. It also keeps students on task, requiring them to follow along.
Top 5 Reasons to Teach Yoga in PE/Wellness:
1. Stress Reducer:
First and foremost, yoga warms up the body and has been statistically shown to reduce stress levels in those practicing yoga 3+ times a week. What 21st century student could not benefit from a simple stress reduction technique that they can practice at any time of the day/week?
2. Improve Mental Health:
Yoga is one of the best activities to increase brain functioning. It helps calm the mind, making it more efficient to tackle all of our other every day challenges and curve balls.
3. Improve Sleep:
Sleep is so critical to everyone, especially our 21st century students! They are more active and stimulated than all previous generations, so sleep is even more essential. Yoga has been proven to increase the duration and quality of sleep for yoga practitioners.
4. Improve Strength & Flexibility:
It’s a little-known fact that many professional athletes (NFL, NHL, etc..) practice yoga regularly for its strength and flexibility properties. The strength and flexibility you can get from a typical yoga class is slightly different from other traditional strength and flexibility methods. Regular yoga practice works on movements and poses designed specifically to stretch, strengthen, and lengthen your muscles. If you are being encouraged to improve your strength, flexibility, or both, then yoga is strongly encouraged for you.
5. Improve Balance:
Many of these professional athletes also utilize yoga to improve their balance. Balance is important to everything we do, and balance decreases as we get older. Yoga helps systematically increase and strengthen your balance via the stretches, movements, and poses.
Here’s an added benefit that isn’t mentioned much when discussing the advantages of practicing yoga:
Bonus: Pain Reducer:
Through the activity, motions, and breathing, yoga helps release natural chemicals in the body (called endorphins) that reduce pain and inflammation. All of the trending data demonstrates that practicing yoga 3+ times a week can help reduce pain and inflammation in the body, especially in your joints.
Yoga is without a doubt the most underrated and underutilized activity in our 21st century PE and Wellness classes. Take the time to explore and then implement this quiet and powerful activity to see how your students and classes respond. Check in and let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear from you.