Role of Yoga in Education. What does research say?
As the world is celebrating the 3rd International Day of Yoga with much pomp and circumstance, it is becomes important to understand how yoga plays a vital role in education that holds the power to transform the world.
Yoga is that tool that sharpens the mind to reason but hardens the heart. It lays emphasis on the basic human values such as truth, love, humility, compassion, forbearance, honesty and justice. It makes one conscious about one’s rights and responsibilities.
As the world is celebrating the 4th International Day of Yoga with much pomp and circumstance, it is becomes important to understand how yoga plays a vital role in education that holds the power to transform the world.
Education is a chief instrument as well a catalyst of social transformation. Education enables humans to break through the shackles of orthodox beliefs and emerge as an enlightened person who can reason out.
Research on Yoga in Education
During the late 1900s, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, Georgi Lozanov, a Bulgarian doctor, and Charles Smith, an educator from California founded System of Accelerated Learning and Training (SALT).
They believed that the education system in most parts of the world is filling up students’ brains and minds with information without creating any support group outside the classroom environment where they can continue to grab the education.
SALT looked at the role of yoga in education from various angles, including the type of education that was being provided to children throughout the world as well as the different levels of stress that children face in the classroom environment.
Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, along with Lozanov and Smith, started using certain principles and practices of yoga, firstly, as an experiment to increase the children's learning ability and, secondly, to inspire teachers to teach their subjects in a slightly different way.
Initially, they started with some basic yoga practices in the classroom environment, taking some cues from the work of Research on Yoga in Education (RYE).
In RYE, the classes begin and end with the practice of two asanas and one pranayama. So if a child has to take six or eight classes during the day, he or she is practising two asanas and one pranayama sixteen times each day at the beginning and at the end of each class.
After a few days of practice, the change was evident. The children who were practising yoga in the classroom saw a great improvement in their responses, creativity, receptivity, memory, willpower and behaviour. These children were more relaxed, focused, one-pointed and tranquil than their counterparts in other classes who were not practising yoga and who were more destructive, restless, violent and distracted.
Importance of Yoga for students
The RYE is based on the Patanjali Scale, which includes six fundamentals elements of Yoga. They are:
Living Together (Yama): It promotes living in peace, observing moral rules and learning to live as part of a group.
Cleaning Body and Mind (Niyama): It aims to eliminate toxins and negativity by maintaining the health of the body and mind.
Straightening the Spine (Asana): It emphasises the importance of correct posture to prevent back pain, to discover our bodies and control movements effectively.
Breathing (Pranayama): It helps in controlling the breath that can lead to purification, inner confidence, and an enhanced ability to resolve conflicts and monitor aggression.
Relaxation (Pratyahara): It focuses on learning to relax. Periods of silence and structured rest are deemed essential in order to revitalise a person, and plant the seeds of calmness and confidence.
Concentration (Dharana): It helps in heightening concentration and learning abilities. With its help, visual memory and other senses are developed, which enhance mental capacity to enrich thinking, understanding and imagining.
In the age of immense competition, yoga certainly holds the power to calm a racing mind. With the help of yoga, students can understand their capabilities and can widen their mental horizon.
In the end, we leave you with an inspiring quote from the Bhagvad Gita,
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”