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tar class: Sibley first-graders incorporate yoga

The first-graders in Drew Wanzek’s class at Sibley Elementary School have been mixing yoga and mindfulness activities into their everyday routine, according to a press release. Incorporating both yoga and mindfulness into the classroom helps to cultivate a positive, peaceful classroom that encourages students to try new things.

Students start each day with three activities: a seated yoga pose, a standing yoga pose and a breathing/mindfulness exercise. The exercises are meant to help students prepare themselves for the school day, as well as build core muscles and increase flexibility and balance. Students also practice these activities throughout the school day.

The yoga and mindfulness exercises also help to build the students’ self-control. A child’s brain is very malleable and is able to develop and strengthen skills, such as self-control. In school they are trying to develop the whole child, not just the academics of a student. Multiple longitudinal studies have shown that children with higher levels of self-control go on to live happier and more successful lives, as well as have better social skills, so working hard to develop those life-skills can help students beyond first grade, as well as outside the classroom.

Students are also better able to self-regulate and recognize when their bodies or minds need a break. Throughout the day students may independently stop what they are working on to do an energizing breathing exercise or yoga pose before returning to their work.