Bully-Proofing Our Schools Through Yoga


Bully-Proofing Our Schools Through Yoga

Author: Erika Prafder

photo by JoifulLife

Can’t we all just get along?

Bullying and violence are unfortunately escalating in schools, even with mandated bully-awareness programs, says Dee Marie, MA, CYT and founder of Calming Kids Yoga, an organization which brings classical yoga in to elementary schools during the school-day curriculum to teach ahisma—non-violence to self and others.

“Yoga is a lifestyle, not just an exercise routine. We look at all aspects of yoga, how we feel in our body, how we breathe and process thoughts, how we communicate and treat ourselves and others,” says Marie, whose six-week long programs have had impactful results.

In questionnaires circulated to students prior to the Calming Kids sessions, kids admitted to not being able to handle stress, having headaches, losing sleep and being fidgety, says Marie.

However, “After six weeks of yoga, they felt they could handle stress, communicate more effectively, bullies were bullying less and those being bullied could stand up for themselves better,” says Marie.

To spread her successful teaching method, Marie launched a five-day teacher training program and has trained educators nationwide and globally.

Marie later launched an online teacher training and estimates that she’s reached 2500 teachers, physical therapists, and child psychologists.

“We’ve found in our research model that students are better able to handle themselves and manage stress after our yoga program,” says Marie. “There is a decrease in feeling angry or anxious for no reason and up to 94% less hitting. My vision is that by 2020, every child in school will learn reading, writing, math, breathing and relaxation. My mission is that yogic principles go mainstream.”

Fear the bully whose locker is near yours? Or the nasty clique that excludes you at lunchtime? One woman is empowering tweens and teens to confront peer pressures using yoga’s time-proven tools.

As a yoga practitioner and instructor for nearly fifteen years, Robbin Schneider, founder and owner of Joiful Life, of Indianapolis, Indiana, leads hour-long workshops at middle and high schools to help combat teen suicide and the stressors of measuring up in a success-at-all-costs culture.

Schneider's theme-based sessions include, “The Meaning of Mean,” and “Real Me or Social Me?” and incorporate mindfulness, journaling, crafting, breathing exercises and yoga postures.

“Questions lead to other questions and discussions about who inspires them and why and the things that they would like to change about themselves. Kids leave a bit calmer and less stressed,” she says.

During a recent one-on-one session Schneider dubbed “Grounded in Growth,” I talked with a student who lacked self-confidence about the richness of soil, everyone’s unique time to blossom, and her nurturing family. We practiced Tree Pose, Warrior Poses, Half-Moon, the cocoon of Child’s Pose and Savasana,” she says.

The takeaway? “Springtime is a perfect time to feel at ease in your strength and if you’re ready, to let yourself expand,” she says.

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