November 10, 2011

Oak Park schools try to 'cool down' students with yoga

Hello and welcome to this week's post about kids yoga. Yoga is a sure way of calming kids down, and many parents and teachers are slowly beginning to recognize this . We hear more and more about school programs that are being applied across the country to improve student's results.
At the Isha Yoga Institute is also offering yearly Summer Yoga Camp for Kids, which is becoming more popular each time. [Read about teenager and his Isha Yoga Experience] :

Getting rid of the 'ick'" is how Carla Tantillo, 35, describes the relaxation that students feel after practicing yoga at school. The former high school teacher, Oak Park resident and certified Yogi brings her relaxation program to school districts around the country, including PE classes in District 97.

"Yoga gives students the tools to deal with life stressors. When students — and teachers — are relaxed, it gives them the skills to learn and be productive," Tantillo says.

Her book, Cooling Down Your Classroom offers teachers yoga coaching in order to tap the inner calm that can focus a rowdy classroom. In eight-minute chunks after lunch, Tantillo says, students become more focused and discipline infractions occur less frequently.

"It doesn't work to send naughty kids to the principal's office any more," she said. "When my mom and dad get in a fight before school, I'm carrying the 'ick' to school. For the teachers, that's the one student who is like nails on the chalk board. Some students have a hard time being quiet because they're listening to a negative internal dialog."

In her work in Chicago Public Schools, she saw a need to provide something for students who "weren't receiving services for stress or anger management."

"Yoga helps us stretch out and get rid of our anger and stuff, and get rid of our sorrows and stuff," says a CPS student on one of Tantillo's videos.

Tantillo's goal is to teach students self-awareness through Kriya yoga. With her company, Mindful Practices Yoga, she consults at schools to train PE and other teachers in yoga practices. The company also runs an after-school "Hip-Hop Yoga" dance program which combines "culturally relevant" dance music with yoga poses. Her hip-hop students have performed at Taste of Chicago for several years.

Kids love yoga, says Tantillo. They love the quirky names given to different poses, such as Cow Face, The Stork, Downward Dog, Seal Pose or Tree, "mnemonic devices to help you remember the pose," says Tantillo.

Then there is the physical exercise, stretching and deep breathing, that gives students a window of relaxation during stressful school days. Yoga teachers encourage students to think about stressors and triggers — to learn about themselves in a "memory minute" when they sit and "clear their minds or think positively about themselves."

"When we feel good, we're more active in the world, even as adults. We take more risks in our learning." Tantillo stresses that yoga is non-competitive, and each child creates poses in their own way. "It's not a presentation; it's a practice," she says.

She works hard with teachers to make sure students don't feel self-conscious. "The classroom teacher has to model self acceptance, to embrace self-acceptance." That means modeling the "modified" or easiest version of the pose that is "achievable, even for students with obesity issues."

Tantillo's mother, Violet, retired as principal at Berwyn's Jefferson Elementary School, 7035 W. 16th St., two years ago. Carla introduced yoga there on a school-wide basis.

After lunch, teachers dimmed the lights and students practiced yoga for eight minutes. The experiment was reported in Education World magazine, where Violet was quoted saying discipline referrals dropped in a year from 254 to 132. She told the magazine, "I'm not the Wicked Witch of the West anymore."

Mindful Practices Yoga now conducts workshops in schools around the country trying to bring the benefits of yoga to teachers "who are tired and spent when they go home. [Yoga] gives them tools to deal with students pro-actively, and relax themselves."

For Kathy Madura, a veteran PE teacher at Lincoln School, yoga fits the bill for the new direction she's seeing in the teaching of physical education.

"[Yoga] works as an overall wellness concept. It gives you physical flexibility, strength building, muscle strength and emotional calming and concentration. It can have a huge impact on students." Madura and another PE teacher attended a Michigan weekend yoga workshop with Tantillo and began to put yoga ideas into practice in D97 PE classes.

Madura pumps up the yoga before the ISATs. "We do yoga for test-taking to get the students' minds focusing in a better place.

"Yoga is not a flash in the pan," she says. "You're not going to play kickball as an adult, but you can do yoga as an adult and at home. It's a lifetime learning area."

Michigan youth say yoga is good for kids.Isha yoga children programs return to Flint and Farmington Hills 

Sharing experiences of their recent 10-day Isha yoga class, 39 Michigan children ages 8-13 years of age formed a natural consensus - yoga is good for kids. After a successful pilot program last June, non-profit Isha Foundation offered two classes this summer: Farmington Hills, June 19-27 at the Finnish Cultural Center and Flint, June 21 - July 1 in association with Grand Blanc Parks and Recreation and Grand Blanc Schools Community Education Programs.

The aim of Isha Yoga is to help children build inner foundations for balanced, happy and healthy lives. According to participant Nikila Peddireddy, the program succeeded. The 11-year-old says, "I feel it is a wonderful program that will help children all over the world (and they) will love this program. I personally feel that if you do this program you will benefit tremendously from this."

Although yoga is most often perceived as an exercise form, Isha Yoga focuses on the essential nature of yoga, which literally means "union", by establishing a foundation for a way of being in union with all aspects of one’s inner nature. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation, notes that yoga and youth are perfect companions. "Children, especially, are so much closer to life than adults," he says. "However these days outside influences are much too powerful, particularly the media. Kids are growing up too fast."

Simple postures and breathing practices are offered alongside an ample serving of fun, games and time for sharing their experiences with each other. These program elements expand the children’s’ awareness of themselves and life around them and help them develop a sense of belonging and confidence that leads to mental and emotional balance. Of the impact Isha Yoga had on her, 10-year-old Shivani Kaushal says, "I will always think about the topics we learned so I will be a good person. It was fun and I think it’s a good program to teach to kids."

Kids aren’t the only ones noticing changes yoga can bring about. Dr. Naveen Pathak of Dearborn enrolled his son Neil again this year. After observing 11-year-old Neil since last year’s Isha Yoga program, Dr. Pathak says, "My son has been doing the practice daily. He used to be overweight but has lost four pounds despite gaining one inch in his height. He looks really slim & healthy now. He also used to be easily distractible but now he is more focused and can concentrate better. In fact he scored at 97 percentile nationwide in his Stanford SAT9 math test. He used to be anxious & fidgety but now is very calm & relaxed." Noting that more and more associates in the medical profession are recommending yoga as a way to maintain good physical and emotional health, Dr. Pathak says, "I think that children in today's world have lot of distractions and are exposed to violence. All children would benefit from this program. I strongly recommend it."

Isha Yoga for Children was developed by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to physical, emotional and spiritual health through yoga science. He is a realized master and yogi who has practiced yoga since age 13. Sadhguru has synthesized the science of yoga into a dynamic program to restore and maintain optimum health, inner balance and a state of natural joy and happiness. His unique Isha Yoga for Children does not disappoint. Says 11-year-old Jason Chan, "I never knew that the program (yoga) was fun. This class is helping me by calming me down."

Article outsourced from:
You may also like:
Study: Yoga beneficial for Kids with Autism
Isha Yoga camp for children 
Pranav Manem: My experience with Isha Yoga


  1. It is good for kids to start Yoga at an early age. The earlier the better!

    1. It definitely is a great thing to do like you are saying.
      i have seen kids after just a few weeks of yoga, and the way their behavior has improved is just incredible.
      They usually come to the class the first time all hyper and not able to focus, leaving in much better state then when they came. I am sure this will be recognized as time is passing.