Erin McSweeney | Jun 4, 2019 | 0
Starting A Yoga Club At My School
I was first introduced to yoga when I was a high school student at Hinsdale South. I recall that yoga was one of the units PE teachers would cover. My close friend from high school, Elyse, was highly interested in yoga and would ask me to go with her to classes back in 2004-2005; now she conducts workshops on Acroyoga, an innovative way of combining yoga, acrobatics and gymnastics. While Elyse was incredible even back then, I was a beginner and I would sometimes feel discouraged by not being able to do some of the positions. Therefore, I would give up quickly because I felt the need to know how to do the poses correctly right away.
Years went by without doing yoga, then in 2014 Mannheim District 83 introduced me to mindfulness. The district started doing research along with Rush University on the effects of mindfulness on students’ behaviors and ability to self-regulate. It was a year long training, which positively impacted me. Through this training I learned the essence of being present in the moment and to value my self-worth. Then all of a sudden, I began to look through yoga classes near me. I started doing yoga with a different mindset in 2014. I knew that if I did not know how to do a certain pose, I would eventually get it by simply practicing and constantly reminding myself to not get discouraged. Additionally, I also learned to just focus on what’s happening internally and to not compare myself with others who are also practicing next to me.
In October of 2015, my husband informed me that Yoga by Degrees was doing a 20 hour workshop to teach yoga. Again, I found myself being self-conscious of my abilities because the training was with all PE teachers who had excellent fitness abilities. However, I managed to pull through and I reminded myself that it was just 20 hours. It turned out to be a great investment of my time and effort. I learned how to position my body and develop my confidence while doing yoga. After this training, I was so excited to start a Yoga Club for my students. I first started it at Roy School. Since then I have introduced it in other schools as well. Currently, I am doing Yoga Club at Mannheim Middle School.
As a social worker, I have noticed that yoga has taught me how to take care of myself. In our social work profession, we witness challenging situations all the time and the aftermath of traumas (e.g., suicide, substance use, homelessness, abuse, domestic violence, etc.), which can feel overwhelming at times. Therefore, I decided to practice mindfulness strategies on a regular basis and I do yoga about once or twice per week to ensure that I am able to cope with these tough situations.
About a year ago, I conducted a Yoga Group at my church. At the beginning of every yoga session, we would start with a prayer and end with a prayer, which helped us to be develop a relationship with God. The use of yoga has helped me to become emotionally, spiritually, and physically stronger. Through yoga I have learned to let go of things that are out of my control and to always remember that I am enough.
I do not need to impress others nor do I need to perform for others while I am on the mat–I simply need to be myself, Marjorie, which is empowering.
Starting Yoga Club
Over the years of implementing yoga, I have been able to gather lots of resources. I am sharing some of the Google Slides that I have created to help you start yoga at your schools, in 3 slide stacks:
Practicing yoga at school has helped me to stay organized and to ensure students attend the club by using Google Classroom. Through Google Classroom, I share with students the Google Slides for yoga and they are able to practice from home. I also use a Doodle Poll to plan ahead on how many students will be attending. Staff are also welcome to come to these yoga sessions.
Overall, there are many benefits to practicing yoga. The most important benefit for me is that I am able to share my hobby and passion with students, and practice some self-care as well!