Staying calm under stress

Yoga is an age-old practice involving mental, physical and spiritual disciplines, and one that has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent decades. As part of a Dance CRAFT unit in Grade 4 focused on building strength and flexibility in body and mind, weekly workshops are attracting those especially interested in meditation and mindfulness.

Staying calm under stressIt is said practicing yoga helps to strengthen and stretch one’s body, as well as strengthen the mind - improving memory. The weekly sessions, led by one of our teaching staff who is also a certified yoga instructor, are in line with the Primary Years Programme (PYP) Arts scope and sequence. Of special mention is that yoga is meant to be neutral and open to all. The practice is considered an aid in being present, promoting self-acceptance, that each person is unique – fostering body positivity. The unit specifically starts in CRAFT (ie skills-based), focusing on building strength and flexibility in body and mind and then leading into a PROCESS unit in which the students will create a character for a monologue that specifically focuses on the body and mind of the character.

The pupils are advised to keep a weekly yoga journal, which promotes looking within and can aid when feeling overwhelmed. Questions are proposed, such as how does this affect you on stage and in the real world? The journaling is to include inspirational quotes (eg “You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf” -Jon Kabat-Zinn), and for acknowledging in writing an emotional or mental area of concentration. The programme teaches discipline and is a plus for those looking to gain increased focus for upcoming exams. For Dramatic Arts students, the practise encourages being able to know more about where they are within themselves; thus, being able to take a dramatic character further.

In this sometimes chaotic world that young people find around them, yoga enhances children’s concentration and increases their mindfulness, assisting them in developing healthy responses. Breathing and relaxation techniques in practice help youngsters manage their anxiety; in combination with the physical outlet, results in youngsters being less distracted and thus, able to learn more.

The instructor-led sessions are committed to adhering to protocols regarding safety and social distancing. Student feedback has been very positive for this activity that offers an added element of fun, fitness and feeling fine. ICS Librarians have organised an assortment of periodicals on the topic. Please see here for more details on Mindfulness-themed learning resources.

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