Preschool teachers have to be flexible, but Dianna Langdon (Park Early Childhood Center – Ossining, NY) is taking that necessity to a whole new level. She used her FFT grant to obtain certification as a registered children’s yoga teacher and now incorporates the practice daily to unite four-year-olds’ minds, bodies, thoughts and actions while also fulfilling state standards requiring preschoolers’ physical, social and emotional development.
Two weeks of instruction at the Bhodi Tree Yoga Resort in Nosara, Costa Rica, equipped Dianna to weave yoga and mindfulness into classroom instruction in English and Spanish to include the large percentage of students from Latin American countries. She also leads staff development sessions that empower all of the preK teachers and assistants to incorporate breathing and movement exercises that reduce student stress and increase healthy practices.
“My prekindergarten students now enjoy much needed opportunities throughout their learning day for movement, which helps increase their attention and stimulate their cognitive ability,” said Dianna. “Students are also developing mindful habits through the use of new meditative strategies I’ve learned such as mindful minute, guided visualizations, and affirmations.”
Despite their high energy level, the young yogis look forward to the chance to relax together, according to Dianna. She leads some exercises, then students use their creativity to dream up and share their own poses (pictured). They also share thoughts about feelings, hopes and worries. “We even use yoga breathing strategies to support ourselves at other times during the school day and to modulate our energy during learning,” Dianna said.
Ultimately, she envisions daily yoga sessions developing in her students the principle of ahimsa, or non-harming.
“By teaching my students this principle and encouraging them to think about it in other areas of their lives, we will all go into the world outside our classroom with a focus on kindness toward the other.”
For more stories about teachers pursuing mindfulness strategies with their grants, read about the work of these Houston teachers, as well as the impact of these Fellows who learned under experts at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts and a Buddhist monastery in France.