Teacher Tips: From the Yoga Mat to the Classroom

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Tip #1  – Yoga Can Help Teach You Patience

School teachers need an abundance of patience. Dealing with classroom disruptions, endless meetings, the bureaucratic nature of our jobs. And let’s not forget the endless repetition of hearing your own name thousands of times a day.

Since most of us need much more patience than we naturally have, I would venture to say one would make an absolute fortune should one find a way to bottle and sell patience.

Yoga can teach you patience.

Let me rephrase that: yoga has taught me to have much more patience and I think it can help you too.

Here’s an example of how yoga has let me practice learning patience:  learning a new yoga pose gives me lots of opportunities to practice patience.

First, I have to come to grips with the physical and mental limitations of my body at the time.

My arms seem to suddenly be shorter than necessary.

My legs seem impossibly long (not in the good way).

My wrists are delicate little things when what is required is strength and flexibility.

My personal favorite: I’m tired.

Face it, some poses are just out of my reach right now.

I could get all caught up in the striving – must.do.it.now – or I can relax and understand with practice and yes, patience, I may find that pose becomes easier over time.

Tip #2 – Yoga Can Heighten Your Sense of Patterns and Deepen Your Awareness

In my first few years of teaching, I pretty much abandoned all activities that weren’t directly related to school.

Big mistake.

I thought by creating a laser-like focus on my job, I’d somehow skip over the learning process of becoming a teacher. Mostly, I just burnt myself out.

Since I started practicing yoga on a regular basis, my teaching has dramatically improved.

By stepping away from the classroom, I’ve been able to notice patterns of behavior – mine and theirs.

The time away has given me insights into how my mood, stress level and attitude is reflected in my students. I was able to see that I get back what I put out there.

Time on the mat has also freed up space in my brain to see behavior triggers and stop them before they become an issue.

It’s not that I’m spending all this time on my mat thinking about work either.

It’s like when you are working, working, working on a problem and then you get up to take a walk. You clear your mind and suddenly the answer comes to you while you’re walking. That happens all the time on my mat.

One last lesson I’ve learned from yoga about patterns:

Everything changes.

The good things are temporary.

The impossible-to-stand-for-even-a-second-longers are also temporary.

Tip #3 – Breathing Is A Good Thing

One of the many things I’ve been reminded of over and over during my Fred Jones Classroom Management training this year is the importance of two relaxing breaths.

Pausing to take two relaxing breaths before you take on any teaching situation can help everything (including you!) stay calmer.

According to Fred Jones, “Calm is strength.”

How has yoga or another activity helped you at work?

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2 thoughts on “Teacher Tips: From the Yoga Mat to the Classroom

  1. I have this same feeling of calm and patience when I do strength training or running. I’ve recently added a yoga class into my routine, and I find myself coming back to the feeling that these three outlets when I am struggling at school. Whatever happens at school that I feel is out of my control or disconnected from what I would ideally like to have happen, after school I can come back to this feeling and literally hit the ground running again.

    • @sarah: isn’t nice to have somewhere to gain that new perspective? i really struggled at the beginning of my teaching career about what was in my control and what wasn’t. my time on the mat really helped me to see where i could best use my energy.

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