Can Yoga Save Our Schools, One Teacher at a Time?

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Loving this article from Yoga Journal about combating teacher and student stress in schools with the benefits of yoga!


Could yoga save our schools? By giving teachers the tools to cope with the sometimes overwhelming stress of educating children, especially in under-resourced communities, Breathe For Change thinks it can. The organization launched last year by teachers for teachers is on a mission to reduce teacher stress and burnout through wellness practices like yoga and mindfulness, and they’re already seeing encouraging results in communities across the nation.

“Teacher burnout is a huge problem in our country today,” says Sam Levine, Director of Partnerships for Breathe For Change and a former teacher in the Washington, D.C. area. “Seventy-three percent of teachers report feeling extreme levels of physical, mental, and emotional stress, yet our current education system is not prioritizing their well-being. As a result, teachers are leaving the profession in droves, with some studies estimating that 50 percent leave in the first five years. Many who do stay in the profession become burned out, which research shows has a significant negative impact on student learning. If we want to sustainably improve our education system, we need to focus on the health and well-being of our teachers.”

Breathe For Change’s founder, Dr. Ilana Nankin, was a pre-K teacher herself at a low-income Spanish dual-immersion elementary school in San Francisco when she found yoga to help her deal with the daily stresses she faced as a new teacher. She began to implement mind-body practices in her classroom, creating a peace corner in her room and leading group breathing exercises during transitions. Students became incredibly engaged and better able to focus their minds and regulate their emotions, she says. “My students would always ask, ‘When is yoga time?’” Nankin recalls. “And as soon as we practiced our mindful movement, my students would calm down and focus in ways that seemed impossible before.”

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