Can Yoga Help Prevent Teacher Burnout?


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Yoga is the latest new thing for teachers. Bringing wellness to classrooms will not only reduce stress and anxiety, but also boost performance and satisfaction for all - students, teachers, parents, and the community in general. Here's how Yoga can prevent anxiety issues among teachers:

Yoga is the Stressbuster

Everyone is stressed, teens and adults alike. When combined under one roof, such as a school, the problem is exacerbated, and everyone feels the impact. A recent study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine suggests that teacher burnout is directly associated with increased stress levels in students, which affects performance and quality of life in schools for all. Your kids deserve better, and so do their teachers.

Nearly 20 percent of new teachers in the U.S. leave their profession within the first five years, claims a 2015 federal report from The Institute for Education Sciences. Nearly 1 in 2 teachers state that the anxiety and disappointment felt at work is not worth the effort. The trickle - down effect is clear and supported: A 2014 Gallup poll called State of American Schools found that teachers are just as stressed as nurses. Penn State University researchers also confirmed that teacher retention is problematic and, as a result, student academic performance and social adjustment suffer.

Mental & Physical Benefits of Yoga

Breathing. The practice of conscious breathing provides a ready solution for many challenges during the school day. It doesn't require special clothing or equipment, moving furniture, or very much time. A one-minute breathing break helps to improve the learning environment, and builds a skill that students can use in their own time. A breathing break improves posture, attention, and focus, and encourages mindful action. In a crisis, taking a moment to breathe together makes efforts to resolve a conflict more productive.

Traveling. Teachers are surprised to find that yoga can happen not just during a yoga class, but throughout the day. Integrating yoga tools into their lives turns them into "anywhere, anytime" yogis. They give themselves permission to practice yoga while teaching, in a meeting, on the playground, or as they transition from class to class.

Focusing. Balance poses can sharpen the powers of concentration. Teachers and students learn to direct their gaze, withdraw from distractions, and develop their stamina in maintaining a one-pointed focus.

Seeing with new eyes. Sharing a yoga practice with a class gives teachers a new perspective on their students as individuals and group members. In addition to knowing them as readers, writers, and problem solvers, teachers observe students as breathers and movers. They begin to see movement as a new and different way to practice the same skills of focus, concentration, listening, and following directions that are so important for academic tasks.

Adjusting the energy. Through the internal focus of yoga, teachers can build awareness of their energy and how it’s affected by times of the day, meals, interactions, interruptions, and both everyday and unusual stressors. From that internal awareness, they develop the ability to acknowledge and influence the energy of others. They learn how to use conscious breath and movement to adjust the energy level in the room, from settling the frenetic energy that students bring in from the playground to energizing a group in a mid-afternoon slump.

Integrating. Teachers can use movement to echo and reinforce concepts taught in every subject - for example, animal movements for a study of animal life or anatomy, shapes made with the body to portray geometric figures or trigonometric functions, counting or calculating along with repetitive movements, or using yoga poses to act out the movements of characters in a story.

Staying balanced. Yoga helps teachers explore their ability to control their responses to stressful situations. They often cannot control the situation itself or individual players in it, but they can remain calm, slow down their responses, make better choices, feel empowered, and take clear action. They move from feeling hurt and victimized to feeling more capable and confident, using breath and movement to reduce the effects of chronic stress.

Our classrooms need the pleasure-giving, community-building, and life-enhancing tools of yoga. When teachers thrive, so do their students.

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