Introducing basic yoga techniques into regular theory-based lessons could be the key to helping students remain focused and motivated at school, according to a Charles Sturt University (CSU) Lecturer.
Lecturer in Human Movement Studies (Health and Physical Education) and Creative Arts at CSU's School of Education, Ms Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan is currently working with schools in regional New South Wales to introduce yoga to classrooms as an integral component of each lesson.
"Simple yoga techniques sprinkled throughout the school day help children to refocus, calm down, rebalance their vital energies and become more mindful," Ms Jefferson-Buchanan said.
"Yoga techniques in the classroom help support children in their journey towards becoming better learners and having better concentration. I believe the benefits of yoga techniques in the classroom, in my experience, are essentially holistic."
Ms Jefferson-Buchanan held a yoga-mindfulness workshop for 60 teachers from the Northern Spirit Learning Community on Tuesday 17 March 2015. As part of the workshop teachers were given practical examples of yoga techniques that they could incorporate into their classroom to benefit their students and themselves.
"Yoga techniques are 21st century tools for teachers' toolboxes, helping them to nurture improved learning and teaching environments," Ms Jefferson-Buchanan said.
"Once teachers have learned the yoga techniques they can use them throughout the day to help support children as learners. If children become agitated, sleepy or in other physical-emotional states, there are ways to bring them back to better physical-emotional states through yoga. Children can learn to practise these techniques themselves in any context; they are skills for life."
Ms Jefferson-Buchanan believes yoga techniques also have broader health benefits for children and can also benefit their teachers.
"When yoga techniques are regularly used with young children they can become powerful health and wellbeing tools and have the potential to address some of the health and esteem issues causing concern in young children," Ms Jefferson-Buchanan said.
"Teaching is a demanding and sometimes stressful profession. When teachers learn and engage in these yoga-based techniques, they also have their own stress and energy levels positively affected."
Driven by her passion for health, physical education and holistic education, Ms Jefferson-Buchanan completed a two-year Diploma in research on yoga in education (RYE) in the United Kingdom and has developed a YouTube series which can be used as a resource by teachers.
"I believe that education is not about teaching children to sit down, behave and be quiet; it is about teaching them to become more mindful, to have spontaneous attention and to develop a strong self-awareness."