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Yoga Education:

Its Benefits and Challenges

Krishna K. Bista
PSE 6680
Dr. Davidson
The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings.
The Buddha
(Eds. Amidon and Roberts, 1996, p. 13)
• a set of physical and mental exercises, which is
intended to give control over the body and mind
(CALD,2002 )
• “yoga” ~ a relationship of Body, Mind and Spirit
• Upanishads, great Hindu literature," There is the
path of joy, and there is the path of pleasure, i.e.
Yoga Karma”
• “Yoga is a sophisticated system for achieving
radiant physical health, superb mental clarity and
therefore peace of mind” (Schiffmann, 1996).
• regarded as a physical discipline, one that teaches
strength, flexibility, and balance of body.
yoga practice
• consists of postures or asanas that strengthen,
stretch, and align the body
• Each posture requires combining the mind, body,
and breathing practices.
• Bersma & Visscher (2003), children are natural
yogis. Taking a moment to breathe, relax, or stretch
that will leave students calm, alert, and ready to
• Yoga class as a warm-up or motivational one. Short
yoga exercises as welcome break or pick-me-up in
a classroom setting.
• a gift even in military classes. Many solders are
provided regular yoga classes in their military
camps (Nelson, 2006).
a posture or asana in yoga
National Standards for Physical
Education (NASPE, 2004),
• Yoga creates opportunities for
children to explore movement with a
variety of postures that can be fun
and challenging.
• enhances the physical and
psychological health of the body,
Yoga postures
Benefits of Yoga Education
Physical Benefits
• a discipline ~strengthen, stretch, and align the body in
asanas. After practicing the asanas with care and
awareness, one can tone and condition the body
(Toscano, 2008).
• development of long lean muscles, better posture
improves breathing, enhances digestion, better blood
circulation, relaxes nervous system, and a fortifies
immune system (Finger, 2000).
• shows children how to emphasize proper body
alignment, which increases their ability to use their
muscles and joints more efficiently.
• Children love to role play. Moving from poses with music
in some game activity is a fun for young children.
Emotional and Mental Benefits
• reduce stress and pressure for children and
• help them learn to relax, teach self control, and
instill a sense of peace in their daily lives.
~Marsha Wenig (2003)
• Teach children and adults calmness and inward
focus, which is a valuable skill in entire life.
• a great mental discipline for concentration, and
observation skills (Finger, 2000).
• self-discipline and develops inner strength,
which improves an individual's mental outlook.
• encourage children's creative imagination and
self expression.
Children in Yoga Class
Adult in Yoga Practice
Challenges in Yoga Education
According to Dolan (2007),
• it has several challenges in its
curriculum development, teaching
methods, and student-teacher
• Sequencing a class (teacher and
materials) mood, postures, music as
the need of class
A difficult asana in yoga
• Students and Teacher relationship ~therapist
and patient. teachers need to be sensitive and
respectful of their student’s emotional
• Class Conflicts, hard to predict the mishap that
the teachers and students face in a classroom.
• student’s complaint about the heat, an
unwillingness to use a prop, social cultural
norms in dogmatic societies. Eg. Arabian
schools do not have yoga education as it’s
against the tradition.
Social beliefs as drawbacks
• Yoga is not considered as a basic part
social life. as unnecessary things as
oriental stuff. Raphael Gunner (2005)
• yoga asana as stages of fear and danger
in practicing phases.
• nerves get struck, and the teachers need
to explore the underlying feelings.
• Yoga offers new learning possibilities to a wider
group of students than traditional sports or
fitness curriculum, making it a valuable addition
to any educational program.
• Adding yoga to a school's classroom will help
provide a quality physical education program as
a modification of traditional physical education. It
can be taught as either a warm-up, or as the
entire class.
• However, curriculum specialists, teachers,
trainers and students should know and analyze
seriously the real challenges of yoga education
in classroom settings and real life as well.
Amidon, E., & Roberts. E. (Eds.) (1996). Life prayers from around the world. NY: HarperCollins.
Bersma, D. & Visscher, M. (2003). Yoga games for children: Fun and fitness with postures,
movements and breaths. California: Hunter House.
Dollan, M. (2007). The complete yoga: The lineage of integral education. International Forum of
Teaching and Studies. Marietta: Spring 2007. Vol. 3. Iss 1. pp. 31-38. Retrieved April 5,
2008 from
Ferry, J. (July, 2007). How yoga is changing the classroom. Independent. Retrieved April 4,
2008, from http://
Finger, A. (2000). Introduction to yoga: A beginner’s guide to health, fitness and relaxation. New
York, NY: Three River Press.
Gunner, R. (April, 2005). Idol teachings. The Santa Fe New Mexican. Santa Fe N.M. Retrieved
April 4, 2008, from
National Association for Sport and Physical Education, (2004). Moving into the future: National
Standards for Physical Education. 2nd edition. Reston, VA.
Nelson, M. (July 2006). Yoga a stretch for some soldiers. South Florida Sun-Sentinel. July 16.
Schiffmann, E., (1996). Yoga: The spirit and practice of moving into stillness. New York, NY:
Simon and Schuster.
Toscano, L. (April, 2008). Yoga in physical education. Strategies,Vol. 21. Iss. 4, pp. 15-20.
Retrieved April 5, 2008 from client
Weing, M. (2003). Yoga kids: Educating the whole child through yoga. New York, NY: La
Martiere Group.
Thanks to
• Dr. B. Davidson, my Guru
• My classmates namely Hyun Park,
Jack Gillis, Jini Jung, Mark Turner, Na
Meng, Qitong Zhao, Robert McNellis,
Richard Pawlak, Shu Feng, Shannon
Graham, Su-Hee Lee, So-Young
Park, & Yue Cao