Teaching Yoga in Schools: Fostering Compassion

///Teaching Yoga in Schools: Fostering Compassion

Teaching Yoga in Schools: Fostering Compassion

yoga teacher trainingBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Over the last several decades, the incidence of violence in schools has risen dramatically. Sadly, this violence is often perpetuated by students towards other students and teachers. Violent acts often begin with violent thoughts, beliefs and pent up anger and hostility. As these toxic and negative thoughts simmer under the surface, a student may sink into such a place of darkness that a violent act may seem to be the only way he or she can experience a sense of relief and satiate an incessant drive to exact revenge for the perceived injustices she or he may have suffered at the hands of other students or teachers.

Fostering a sense of compassion and empathy during the course of a school-based Yoga class will help to bring awareness to the underlying sense of disrespect and mistreatment that a student may feel has been unfairly directed his or her way by other students and/or teachers. The rage over mistreatment often has its roots in a student’s family of origin, so it is a hard “bud to nip.” However, the physical postures and breathing exercises of Yoga will help to release painful emotions and dissipate some of the negative emotional charge surrounding those hurtful experiences.

Reminding your Yoga students to be gentle and compassionate with themselves, as they practice Yoga postures and pranayama exercises, will help them to relax into the practice and accept their own strengths and limitations with a balanced perspective. As they begin to generate a sense of compassion for themselves, it will become easier for them to feel compassion for their fellow students. Fostering compassion for oneself and others will begin to substantially chip away at violent thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions.

As part of your Yoga class instruction, you may also want provide a ten minute period of time for the students to talk about the school environment and incidences of bullying that may be occurring, either at the beginning of class or the end of class.

In this way, you will be providing your Yoga students with a platform to discuss emotionally violent incidences before these untoward events turn physically violent. Listening to the other students speak about their own experiences will also help facilitate awareness, understanding and compassion among the group of students in your Yoga class. Over time, this understanding and compassion will begin to radiate outward from your students to touch other students in the school and will begin to foster compassion in the school community at large.

© Copyright 2012 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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