Why Imagination Yoga?

Kids need tools for coping with the modern world.

As schools become more crowded and children (as well as parents and teachers) face increasing challenges, we need new tools to empower kids to find a sense of balance and control over their lives. Issues such as packed schedules, poverty, bullying, and deportation fears make life more stressful for many kids these days.

  • Middle-income American families work an average of 11 hours per week longer, and the bottom 30% of earners are bringing home 29% less income (adjusted for inflation), than in 1979.[1]
  • According to Oregon’s 2015–16 Statewide Report Card, homelessness affects 3.71% of students across the state, including 4.71% of Eugene 4J students and a staggering 9.24% of students in the Bethel school district.[2]
  • More than 20% of students report being the victims of bullying at school.[3]
  • Immigration arrests rose by more than 32.6% in early 2017 compared to the previous year,[4] placing more children at increased risk for psychological, behavioral, and physical problems.[5]

Research has shown that persistent stress can lead to a host of issues, including sleep disorders, digestive problems, headaches, chronic pain, problems with emotional regulation, learning deficits, mood disorders, and heightened threat perception.[6] As parents and educators, we need practical tools to help children overcome these mounting challenges.

 

Yoga builds physical and mental strength.

A growing body of evidence illustrates many ways in which yoga and mindfulness can help people—including children—overcome life’s obstacles. In addition to physical benefits like improved strength, balance, endurance, and aerobic capacity, yoga can help to reduce anxiety, depression, and symptoms of ADHD and PTSD while enhancing focus, memory, self-esteem, and performance in school. [7],[8] Just as it does for adults, yoga practice provides children the opportunity to take a break from daily stresses, care for themselves, and bring more mindfulness into their everyday actions.

 

What is Imagination Yoga?

Imagination Yoga was originally developed by an early childhood teacher as a way to address behavioral challenges she saw in her classroom. The program uses storytelling to engage children’s imaginations while guiding them through a series of yoga poses, turning the flow into a “yoga adventure,” which might take them to the jungle, the Arctic tundra, the ocean, or even to space. Each adventure introduces developmentally appropriate kids yoga poses as well as kindness, calming, and concentration exercises.

 

Kind Hearts, Kind Words, Kind Thoughts

This is a simple mindfulness meditation that we use at the end of each Imagination Yoga adventure. After we “return,” we place our hands at our hearts and take a moment to remember that each of us has a warm, kind heart. We acknowledge that this is true even when we’ve made poor choices or have had less control over our actions than we might like. As we reflect on this, we also remember that all those around us have kindness in their hearts, even if it’s hard for us to see at the moment. We then visualize gathering up the kindness in our hearts and raising it to our lips—to remind us to speak kind words—and then to our foreheads—to remind us to bring kindness into our thoughts about ourselves and others. This practice helps children to build a strong sense of their own goodness and worth while also honoring the humanity in others. Imagine a world in which all children learn this basic principle as firmly as they learn that 2+2=4.

 

As a parent and teacher, I’m thrilled to bring Imagination Yoga to the Eugene/Springfield community. Check back on this website for updates, or fill out our contact form to join the email list to make sure you’re informed about future events.

 

Namaste,

Diane

 

 

[1] “The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict The Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle.” Center for American Progress and Center for WorkLife Law, Jan 2010. Accessed 16 Nov 2017.

[2] “Statewide Report Card 2015–2016.” Oregon Department of Education. 30 Nov 2016. Accessed 16 Nov 2017.

[3] “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016.” U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Statistics, May 2017. Accessed 16 Nov 2017.

[4] Law, Anna. “This is how Trump’s deportations differ from Obama’s.” The Washington Post, 3 May 2017. Accessed 16 Nov 2017.

[5] “U.S. Citizen Children Impacted by Immigration Enforcement.” American Immigration Council, 28 March 2017. Accessed 16 Nov 2017.

[6] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

[7] Wei, Marlynn, MD, JD. “More than just a game: Yoga for school-age children.” Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School. 20 Jan 2016.

[8] Novotney, A. (November 2009). “Yoga as a Practice Tool.” 40 (10). Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association.

 

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