Indiana & Yoga Magazine Summer 2016 Issue 1 | Page 50

FAMILY & KIDS every day, and a before school program called BOKS (Building Our Kids Success) is a program based on scientific studies that show exercise and movement improves academics. So it is no surprise to find yoga classes as a weekly part of the 8th grade girls P.E. Yoga teachers like Wilson are provided to the school by Mighty Lotus, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that has developed a curriculum for their teachers to follow in a public school setting. It is now her second year teaching for Mighty Lotus, and Wilson admits this job is quite a challenge. “You need the right space,” she says. “Sometimes having [I have] to move desks and change spaces upon arrival.” Not only that, but she must also contend with “varying physical abilities as well as a desire to participate, or lack thereof.” This is middle school we’re talking about. 48 Mighty Lotus curriculum is based on a variety or researched programs and includes general, yoga-based practices and also mindfulness training. “We are able to tailor a program to meet the needs of each specific school,” Wilson says, “from a more physical practice [such as] poses and movement to a quieter practice [like] stress reduction and mindfulness.” One Mighty Lotus program that has grown faster than others is the “Mighty Minds” program, which focuses on breath, focus and stress management. “I think this is a result of the increased levels of stress that kids today face beginning at a very young age.” Most teachers come to Mighty Lotus with yoga certifications and experience teaching yoga to children. Mighty Lotus also provides their teachers specialized training, such as a weekend workshop by Street Yoga, a Seattle based company that teaches “trauma informed” yoga. “Most of Mighty Lotus’s staff was able to learn about dealing with tough situations in a variety of settings, including many of the settings [in which] we teach in Indianapolis,” Willson said. Principal Ostler related how the Mighty Lotus program has evolved at her school over the last three years. The first year, students had to volunteer to do yoga, and not everyone participated. But the second year, they tried to apply directly applying the benefits of the mindfulness and stress reduction techniques to specific children. Children were chosen that were thought to “need a destressor.” Ostler said, “This didn’t work well because students felt like they were singled out.” Children were viewing the program as a punishment, which was counter-productive to a yoga class. So in this third year, the yoga classes at SUPER School 19 have been incorporated as part of P.E. each week. INDIANA & YOGA MAGAZINE ISSUE I