Yogazeit, “YogaTime”, is committed to providing evidence based Mindful Movement Programs (MMP’s) to teachers and students in Western Australia. Offering mini brain breaks to children within the school setting supports
- the development of healthy behaviour,
- stress reduction and
- fosters a ready to learn attitude.
MMP’s are a whole of life skill set that teachers can also perform for themselves at school and at home to increase their mental health and well-being.
Why Yoga and Mindfulness at school is needed
Educational reforms and the movement toward evaluation of school performance through student testing have amplified psychosocial demands on children1 and increasingly schools are seeking to improve social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, which reduce stress while addressing psychosocial development. Stress is an important and potentially malleable factor in the health of children,2 and school-aged children report having numerous stressors in their day-to-day experience, including such concerns as poor academic performance, peer exclusion and social pressure, being bullied or teased,3 and homework.4,5 The stress caused by these day-to-day events may have an impact on children’s health that lasts into the future6,7 leading to anxiety and other health concerns. Equipping children with coping strategies may allow them to better deal with these stressors and prevent impact on future health.8,9
YOGAZEIT’s MINDFUL MOVEMENT PROGRAM
In 2021, Yogazeit teamed up with researchers from Murdoch University and Beaconsfield Primary School, an independent public Primary School in Western Australia, to study the impact of Yogazeit’s uniquely developed MMP’s over the course of a whole year.
The focus of the Mindful Movement Program are short, 5-15min classroom based brain breaks to support social emotional learning, mental health and physical and social health outcomes. While aligned to the Australian School Curriculum, these brain breaks can be implemented at the teacher’s discretion to support transitions (taking a breath in between lessons), to activate learning (movement and oxygen intake), to regulate emotions (checking in how we’re feeling to use breath and movement to regulate) or as a reward (yoga game to foster play).
Yogazeit offered the teachers Professional Development (PD) Training in January and again in week 10. In the PD sessions, teachers were educated and empowered to learn accessible, easy-to-use, curriculum aligned classroom based Yoga and Mindfulness skills. They received a curriculum and resources to help apply activities in the classroom and, importantly, for themselves at home.
Pictured: Teachers welcomed the option to receive a Mindful Movement Card Deck to support learning and engagement in the classroom. These cards were aligned with the Zones of Regulations and included teaching instructions and benefits on the back of the cards.
Teachers learnt movement, breathing and relaxation techniques that could be used on the mat or chair. Age appropriate, trauma-informed Yoga and Mindfulness activities for children ranging from kindergarten to Yr 6 were presented.
YOGAZEIT rated as one of the the best PD’s
“Thank you so much Yogazeit! A number of staff have commented that this was one of the best PD’s they’ve been involved in”. Kirsten Dicker, Principal Beaconsfield Primary School (following the PD in January 2021)
Beaconsfield Primary School leadership embraced the program and offered three further skills – or tools – to support teachers and students. Principal Kirsten Dicker invited all teachers and staff to provide:
- Dedicated, school wide, mini brain break time at the start of each day as well as during class time to support transitions and classroom engagement
- Mindfulness and Yoga classes to support teacher selfcare during the week
- Whole school Wellbeing Incursions presented by Yogazeit
Students taking the lead!
“One of the biggest achievements as part of the program was for us to make the Mindful Movement Education sustainable. Only after one term (which kicked off with a COVID-19 lockdown),” says Regina Cruickshank, CEO of Yogazeit, “we saw students from culturally and linguistic diverse classrooms, who have learned English as a second language, lead and guide their student peers and teachers in breathing activities. Seeing the kids confidently standing in front of their peers, happy and calm showcasing their skills and mindful movement techniques, has been super rewarding”.
Regina says, this program has the potential to change Mental Health outcomes in schools across Australia. The two-way learning and engagement, the alignment to the Australian Curriculum and the customised Australian activities (such as Kangaroo for the traditional ‘chair yoga’ pose), make this program unique, fun and real.
What did you enjoy most about the program?
“The program benefited all involved. My class enjoyed the sessions tremendously even if it was for only 5mins after recess or lunch or in between lessons. It gave them the opportunity to settle quickly tune in to their breathing and positive thoughts.” Teacher, Beaconsfield Primary School.
Students embraced the MMP’s, sharing their skills as a whole school assembly item – celebrating International Yoga Day and the importance of Mindfulness and Movement for resilience, stress management and mental health.
By the end of week 10, teachers from kindergarten to Yr 6 reported the benefits to be:
- Improved teacher well being
- Improved class management
- Improved class atmosphere
- Improved student focus
- Improved student social skills
- Improved student behaviour
Teachers completed three surveys during the year to assess the program.
“Mindful Movement is going well, even our new staff have taken it on in the mornings so it’s still happening across the school.” Chris John, Principal Beaconsfield Primary School 2022
100% of Mental Health Awareness and Education!
The teaming up with Murdoch University allowed Yogazeit to understand potential barriers (e.g. time and/or resources) in implementing Mindfulness and Mental Health initiatives at school. The final end of year evaluation in December 2021 allowed for a whole year review of the MMP. Teachers rated the program as a success. For students, teachers rated the program as following:
- 100% said that the program taught students self-care and breathing techniques
- 100% confirmed that the MMP supports Mental Health Awareness and Education for students and staff
- 94% said that the students enjoyed or loved the program
- 89% stated that the program should continue for another year
- 100% of teachers reported that they had personally received benefits from the program.
Do you want to join the mental health Movement?
Yogazeit is offering a Mindful Movement: Tools for Teachers training session on March 21. Tickets can be purchased by following the link
Blog post with thanks to: Helen Doran-Wu, Yogazeit Volunteer.
Support your school!
Is your workplace, school or health service interested in integrating Mindfulness and Movement to support mental health outcomes? Get in touch! We’d love to help!
Hilton, A. (2022). Mindful Movement Program for Primary School Teachers: Program Evaluation. Murdoch University
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