Yoga and meditation are integrated into the curriculum to support wellbeing. Children and educators are supported to expand and deepen self-awareness, learn about themselves and learn to connect with others.¹ Since both educators and students practice together it creates a common area of endeavour and discovery. It also enhances the teacher-student relationship as both parties are sensitive to each others’ time and space to think, reflect and express themselves. It allows us all to learn to be in the present moment.
Yoga and conscious movement
Yoga is a fun way for children to develop a variety of important skills in a nurturing, non-competitive environment. Our educators offer unconditional positive encouragement which helps create a nourishing environment. Children can relax and have fun whilst developing strength, coordination, flexibility as well as increasing their body awareness and self-esteem.
Children are encouraged to respect and pay attention to their bodies, making sure each pose feels good. As children grow and their bodies change, this becomes an important skill. Having the skills to listen carefully to the body and heart is not just a method to avoid injury; this also makes it easier to be self-reflective and make good choices when dealing with peer pressure.
We practice traditional yoga exercises, along with yoga-mat ball (a game invented by our students), tai chi, qi gong, dance, running, walking and many other mindful exercises.
‘What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us, and when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.’ Henry David Thoreau
Being in peace with yourself, in the here and now is the optimum condition for learning. Your mind is clear and awake to what is going on around you and you are able to engage wholeheartedly. Obstacles to learning disappear as mental and emotional blocks are surmounted and students experience the enrichment of learning in the here and now.
Meditation, as conscious imagination, is a powerful tool for any problem-solving. Just five minutes’ reflection before beginning a piece of work whether creative, analytical or mathematical can make an enormous difference to the success of the task. It taps into our huge reserves of knowledge, insight and memory, thus empowering us to perceive ourselves as creators and problem solvers.²
*Our meditation and yoga practices are non-religious. The aim is for each child to connect with their own thoughts, feelings and imagination, learning how to reach their own conclusions and to think independently.
Mindfulness means living in the moment. Instead of letting our judgments and assumptions clutter our words and actions, we respond in gentle, loving, compassionate ways. By so doing, we create better relationships – the building blocks of community.
To impact others and build strong communities, mindfulness begins with us, as individuals. Mindfulness is expressed through our body, mind, spirit, and emotions. When we are mindful, we are more likely to be objective, non-attached, non-judgmental, non-defensive, and nonviolent in our interactions. Through this stance, we are better able to connect with others. And through those connections, difficulties are weathered, and community is formed and strengthened. Trust among community members grows. All these consequences are natural by-products of living with mindfulness.
Being a democratic community means we make meaningful decisions together, considering everybody’s voice and needs. Learning how to listen with attention and compassion. Learning how to talk with care and consideration. Learning about processes that facilitate group dynamics, decision making and conflict resolution, enable successful communication to take place. They help integrate everybody into a group and help us feel that together we can create something wonderful for everyone. They show us a way forward to a better future as a learning community, as a society and as a species.
The primary educators in child’s life are their parents. Parenting is the most important job we’re given, but society often doesn’t prepare us well for this role or give us the support that we need.
We recognise that families need support in their path to develop their awareness as parents and learn skills and strategies that will help them to find greater happiness in themselves that they can share with their loved ones. So, for us, families are part of the community, and it is incredibly valuable to have coherence in the experience of the child bridging the values that they experience at school with those they live with at home.
So, we propose a variety of meetings where parents can come together and share experiences or learn together in workshops with people who have a lot of experience in helping parents negotiate this tricky but wonderful path.