The school environment is constantly changing. Today’s schools are a lot different than they were 20 years ago. School children in this rapidly evolving world are exposed to conditions that are almost unimaginable. From new forms of bullying through social media, to the violence seen in movies and video games, to troubles in the household, to violence in the streets, going to school is no long simply about learning the “ABCs” for many children, it’s about coping with all of the emotional traumas that life continues to send their way.
A parent group at Bennett Park Montessori School has figured out a wholesome and productive way for students to ease the emotional stresses that surround their daily lives. The parent group has teamed up with Yogis in Service to provide Trauma Informed Yoga as an after school program. The thought is, that by alleviating the stress pent up within the children, their teachers will have an easier time doing what they do best – teaching.
74% of the children at the Montessori School (a Buffalo Public School – 3 y/o to 8th grade) are considered “economically disadvantaged”. Because of the economic disparities, many of the children don’t have the external resources that they require to adjust to the classroom environment. Yoga has a way of calming, socializing, and providing a stress release to those who need it most. Yogis in Service (learn more here), a non-for-profit community service yoga organization, in partnership with the Africa Yoga Project (AYP) and the University at Buffalo, will be offering two different after school programs – one for the children to do on their own, and one that includes their families.
This new initiative at the Montessori School is based upon the 12 Principles for Growth that form the Growth Zone, which in turn creates the Growth Mindset.
Yogis in Service 12 Trauma-Informed, Principles for Growth:
Part I: Inner Resources (Kids: Me)
- EMPOWERMENT | I can (kids- I can)
- WORTH | I am worth the effort (kids- I am always worth it)
Part II: Positive Embodiment (kids- Me and My Body)
- SAFETY | I deserve to be safe (kids- I deserve to be safe)
- BREATH | My breath is my most powerful tool (kids- My breath is powerful)
- PRESENCE | I work toward presence in my body (kids- I can connect with my body)
- FEELING | I feel so that I can heal (kids- It’s okay to feel my feelings)
Part III: Self-Regulation (kids: Me and My Choices)
- CHOICE | I can find choice in the present moment (kids- Right now, I can make the best choice for me)
- GROUNDING | My body is a source for connection, guidance, and coping (kids- I can connect with my body to steady my feelings and make choices)
- OWNERSHIP | I can create the conditions for safety and growth (kids- I can make choices to keep me safe and growing)
- I can create a balance between structure and change (kids- I can choose when it is best to try new things)
Part IV: Mindful Grit (kids: Me and My Work)
- COMPASSION | I honor the individual path of recovery and growth (kids- I grow and learn in my own way [we all do])
- SELF-DETERMINATION | I work toward the possibility of growth and effectiveness in my own life (kids- I can create my own path of possibility)
Yoga could be one of the best holistic medicines for students that suffer from trauma. The intrinsic healing nature of yoga can work wonders on bodies and minds of all ages. When faced with frightening issues such as addiction, food insecurity, poverty, and violence, healing must come in various forms. This new trauma-informed Yoga Model is being revered for its open nature, its healing effects, and its ability to connect with the young students.
“Yoga poses… help individuals to observe and tolerate physical sensations and to use this tolerance to disconnect their physical feeling from the emotional reactions to assaults in the past.” – Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD; Laura Stone, MA; Jennifer West, PhD; Alison Rhodes, MSW Med; David Emerson, MA; Michael Suvak, PhD; and Joseph Spinazzola, PhD (see PDF)