Do students need yoga instruction in Carmel schools?
By Adam Aasen
There are tons of distractions that can prevent a child from learning at school. Emotional problems, self esteem issues, Attention Deficit Disorder and troubles focusing are all hinderance.
But some local organizers believe a few deep breaths and a centered peace of mind can help reduce these problems.
Body, Mind and Core, a yoga studio that opened in Carmel this past fall, is leading a campaign to try to bring yoga into public school.
Owners Matt and Natalie Hayden continually host events to raise funds to help pay for full-time instructors to teach students how to focus, stretch, relax and stay grounded.
After moving to Indianapolis one year ago, Matt got involved with a local yoga-based nonprofit called Mighty Lotus and eventually was named director of the board. Mghty Lotus now has weekly yoga classes at two Indianapolis Public Schools: SUPER School 19 and Eleanor Skillen School 34. And Natalie taught yoga to students at West Clay Elementary during I-STEP week this year.
Mighty Lotus organizers know parents and teachers could be skeptical of yoga, so they have conducted and compiled piles of detailed research that shows that students who participate in yoga classes focus better in school and have fewer behavioral problems in class.
“I’ve always told Natalie, ‘I wish I would have had yoga in elementary school. I might not have gotten into trouble,’” Matt said with a laugh.
One issue that has come up is that people tend to lump yoga with religious practices because of its meditation and inspirational mantras. But recent court cases have ruled that yoga is not considered a religion and can be taught in schools.
The goal is to pay instructors about $1,800 a year to teach the classes. Matt said this is a better system than relying on unpaid volunteers because it helps recruit specially-trained instructors who know how yoga can benefit childhood education.
To raise funds and awareness, Body, Mind and Core offers weekly “Community Flow” classes where donations are raised. In April, they conducted a fashion show with a silent auction that raised $3,500 for their cause, which means two more schools are now funded.
Their next big fundraiser is an after-party for the Monumental Yoga event in downtown Indianapolis from 6 to 11 p.m. on June 21.
Matt recently met with former Indianapolis Colts player Marlin Jackson to find ways they can team up. Jackson not only raises funds for his Fight for Life Foundation, but he regularly practices yoga himself.
Of course, you don’t have to be a football player to excel in yoga, which Natalie said is why it is so beneficial for kids and teenagers. So many girls have issues with accepting their bodies at a young age, and she believes yoga can help them get in touch with who they are.
“I was clumsy and klutzy, but I grew into my own when I found yoga,” she said. “This is something where you don’t have to be an athlete. You can be awkward or shy and you can find something that you can succeed at build your esteem. You can be the star on this little two by six foot yoga mat.”
For more information visit www.mightylotus.org or www.bodymindandcore.com.