I have taught Kids Yoga in public schools, as service to the community, for 11 years. As of September 2012, an official foundation is in place for accepting funding streams for these classes. SCHOOL, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that is currently seeking to partner with established nonprofits who care for the health and future of children. As the Director of SCHOOL, I am eager to collaborate with foundations, corporations and non-profit organizations.
SCHOOL brings secular yoga and meditation classes to underserved children in public schools. We go into classrooms during the school day and teach 20-minute classes that emphasize calm breathing. Sounds rather simple? If we had the habit of breathing in a steady and grounding way, this would indeed be rather straightfoward and automatic. We take our breath for granted and with so much accelerated living, now is the time to get to know the power of calm breathing. Parents, teachers, students, we all benefit from living from a place of more pause and less reactivity.
Our SCHOOL classes do include exercise and stretching. However, I feel strongly about the enhancements within SCHOOL classes. We teach specific postures that ignite whole brain functioning. The brain must be receptive for critical learning. We also always include a theme that links why yoga and meditation are relevant to academic studies and healthy social interactions. For example, this past week the theme for my weekly classes (30 classes seen each week - 25 plus children in each classroom) was generosity. I told a story about pausing and taking a calm breath so that my brain could make a good choice. The choice was to offer something that is one of my most favorite things to eat (chocolate covered marshmallows!) to a gentleman working outside in front of the store. He did not ask for one of my prized marshmallow. I was calm and thought that it might make him happy to have one.
One of the fourth grade boys in a LAUSD class looked at me and said, "Ms. Kelly, I have a question. Could I donate my Cheetos to someone?" My heart soared to hear this question and to see that he was thinking about what he could give to another. I know Cheetos are not one of our healthy choices of food. Chocolate marshmallows don't exactly top the list of best foods to eat daily! The inner city children do not have access to farmer markets and Whole Foods stores. Their parents are doing their best to put food on the table each day. It was evident that this boy loved Cheetos and was beginning to think differently - thinking about being generous. We do include healthy food choices in our SCHOOL classes. We have specific postures in which students can raise their hands and contribute a healthy food to our "Stirring in the Bowl" pose. To simply hear good food choices from peers and teachers while in the context of moving, will help plant the memory and idea of choosing healthy foods in life. Generosity, giving what one has, healthy or Cheetos, is a beneficial quality we want to grow in the minds of children.