What is Yoga?

Yoga is a collection of knowledge & practices, which function as a complete & holistic science. The word itself meaning ‘union’ with the goal to join together the mind, body and spirit. This is achieved by encompassing all of the many different needs; physical, mental, emotional, community and spirit.

The roots of Yoga start in ancient times drawing from variety of texts, cultures, religions. It has been practiced for thousands of years and, over the years, many different forms have developed. Each different type of yoga has its own emphasis and practices.

Yoga in Schools teachers will follow the aspect of Yoga known as Hatha Yoga, is that concerned with bodily posture and breathing. Hatha Yoga is a therapeutic movement system integrating breath awareness. The movements release tension and stress in the body and develop strength, flexibility and body alignment.

Our classes follow the Eight limb approach to teaching and class structure, incorporating:

  • Introduction of Yoga Philosophy (Yamas & Niyamas*)
    • These include Peace, Kindness, Acceptance, Gratitude & Non judgment
  • Use of postures (Asana*)
  • Breathing (Pranayama*)
  • Meditation & relaxation (Dhyana*)

(*Sanskrit terms are not commonly used in our classes – see our Yoga & Religion section)

The Power of Breath

Through the Yoga poses the children gain many of the benefits of sport & exercise, whilst focusing on the controlled use of breathing. This awareness and focus on breath has a calming effect on the central nervous system. The Class will ebb and flow in activity and stimulation to help guide through the self – regulation of senses, helping grow and strengthen neural pathways.
All of these factors have an impact on breathing. Classes teach the positive effects of awareness and control of breath, by experiencing how it can affect our mood and the way we react to stressful situations and our ability to concentrate. Learning the power of breath and the ability to self-regulate is a life changing and life enabling process for all children.

What is Mindfulness?

Classes will also incorporate Mindfulness activities, which are engaging & age appropriate. Mindfulness means paying full attention to something, slowing down to really notice what you’re doing and focusing in a relaxed, easy way. Using breathing & calm exercises pupils can explore this feeling and enjoy the sense of calm and being present in the moment. With time and practice being mindful can develop from a trait to a mindset and gives better focus for learning, improves concentration & listening. By building an enjoyment for inner calm & contentment an improved emotional health is developed.

Supporting Research

Links to key research with links to the supporting articles.

What are the benefits of Yoga & Mindfulness?

The benefits of Yoga & mindfulness are key to help deliver opportunities to meet the new Ofsted framework meeting spiritual, mental and social wellness. As well as providing classes which for the PSHE curriculum of Self-care.

Using Yoga poses, activities & games the class will ebb and flow in activity and stimulation to help guide through the self – regulation of senses, helping grow and strengthen neural pathways. This helps build focus and aids better concentration for improved learning.

Yoga is a key way to explore the use of breath and teach a growing understanding its power to calm & assure. This allows students to develop coping techniques to deal with stress and promote stronger self-regulation. By managing stress response through connection to breath, lowering heart rate and blood pressure leads to a better feeling of well-being and mental health.

As the body grows bones, muscles, ligaments and fascia all need to grow and work together to achieve good postural control. Yoga can be used to promote blood flow to muscle and strengthen to support growth and improve flexibility. Stronger bodies will also digest food better, maintain healthy weight, breathe easily and function more effectively.

As well as bone growth, bone density increases and 90% is formed by the end of puberty. To build good quality bones, consistent and weight bearing physical exercise is key. Yoga can be used to support this process and help build awareness of the need to move & stretch to help the growth process.

As the body grows in childhood & puberty this leads to proprioception changes and challenges to balance as the centre of gravity changes, plus issues of spacial awareness, leading to clumsiness and postural control. Yoga is a fantastic tool to help student navigate these changes and build awareness. Balance poses and games are great way to naturally build focus and attention, creating stillness and calm. This helps build positive body feelings and build self-esteem.

Mediation and relaxation is also key to allow connection internally and release of stored emotions – acknowledging, letting go and releasing the emotional feelings, in the same way as identify, stretch and release our muscles. This is often the most important part of the class for some students. Learning these techniques is a lifelong gift to encourage healthy minds and positive mental health.

Introducing Yoga philosophy into classes, we aim to build the sense of community and connection through shared experience and nurturing feelings of compassion and kindness. Partner work, open discussions and community circles provide a safe space to nurture, connect and grow understanding and self-acceptance building a positive supporting community.

Yoga and religion

The definition of Yoga means ‘union’ which acts as a practice to brings together the union of Body (through the poses), mind (by calming the mind through breath) and spirit (finding the peace in relaxation).

Many schools are cautious to ensure all aspects of their teachings respect any religious ethos of their school. As an outside provider, we are both aware and respectful of this position.

It is important to note that Yoga is not a religion. It is practiced by people of all religions and those of none and for others is not necessarily as an expression of their religious way of life.

Due to the very long history & development of Yoga, particularly meditation, Yoga does has close associations with some practices in Buddhism and also some connections to Hinduism. While these similarities are present, Yoga is not connected to either religion.

The ancient language of ‘Sanskirt’ is often used in Adult Yoga classes to describe poses and other aspects of yoga. However we understand this can be confusing to pupils and often not appropriate. So to ensure clear understanding and aid connection, we ask all our teachers to use easily understood language throughout their classes.

We welcome discussions with all individual schools, particularly Faith schools to discuss any other religious considerations that would need to be assessed and set in place a framework and guidelines which meets any potential concerns.

Our aim is to deliver Yoga for all – inclusive, understanding and accessible for all