Fargo students are getting ready for a day of learning through a new method: Yoga Calm. This meditation activity serves as a way to increase student’s focus on breathing, relaxing, and being in the moment.
Student Wellness and Family Facilitator Sarah Bernstrom and Jefferson Elementary Guidance Counselor Laura Sokolofsky have implemented the Yoga Calm program into curriculum at Jefferson Elementary. The idea to integrate Yoga Calm into classrooms sparked for Sokolofsky when she met Yoga Calm Trainer Kathy Flaminio at the ASCA National Counselors Conference, and learned practicing would help calm students, build their self-control skills, and take them out of a setting that was increasing their aggression and conflicts.
Originally developed for classroom use, Yoga Calm is a specific program within Mindfulness that integrates movement. There are many yoga programs for kids that support social-emotional learning. Yoga Calm specifically brings together all concepts in a dynamic way, addressing the needs of the student. Those practicing Yoga Calm use stillness, breathing, mindfulness, and movement. The Yoga Calm can be a release of stress, trauma, emotions, and energy to help students calm, focus, relax, or be energized as needed in the classroom or individual setting. When students utilize Yoga Calm, there is a decrease in absences, and increase in focus and grades.
I am no yoga teacher,” said Sokolofsky. “I just want to share the different ways students can learn to stay calm. I bought the breathing ball (Hoberman sphere) and started to teach my students in every lesson about belly breathing, and added fun different kinds of breaths to our choices.
Sokolofsky began small groups last school year when boys were showing aggressive behavior in gym. Once a week, this group met for Yoga Calm instead of going to gym. It helped with conflict, fighting, gave them a place and way to work things out, and learn to make fair decisions.
Students in grades three through five are invited to attend Yoga Calm as the need arises to practice various types of breathing including ball, belly, soup, pretzel, and so on. When students enter a session of Yoga Calm, everyone begins by focusing on their breathing. Sokolofsky adds the practice of stillness to work on self-control. Once students are quiet and still, and breathing properly, Sokolofsky works with students on Mindfulness principles. Bernstrom has noticed when students are using these exercises, they calm down quickly and have a decrease in anxiety; they enjoy the break from daily school life to focus on breathing.
“I do see the students enjoying the activities we do,” said Sokolofsky. “They try to improve their skills each week, and remain open to new strategies each time we meet.”