One snowy winter’s morning my yoga teacher said “today’s theme is Svadhyaya, self study”. Hearing those words I was instantly flooded with a recognition. I almost said out aloud “Aha”! Luckily I didn’t as I may have disrupted the early morning practice with 60 students in the room. I was studying for my Yoga Teacher’s Training at Kripalu Yoga Institute, in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.
What was that recognition?
Firstly let me give you some context. I have been researching, studying and writing about education since 2009. I have just published my first book - “A Learning Climate: A Teachers’ Guide to Creating an Emotionally Intelligent Classroom in the First Four Days of School”. The word Svadhyaya is from an ancient language called Sanskrit. Sanskrit is considered a dead language in the sense it is not used conversationally. However its words are still with us thousands of years after it was born. Sanskrit words are used in yoga classes to describe poses (asanas), breathing (pranayama) and meditation (samadhi) techniques as well as perspectives on who we are (koshas) and how we can live (yamas and niyamas).
In my research to write my book I came across the work of Travis Bradbury and Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI is considered the greatest predictor of success for anyone. Schools have embraced EI as a “new” approach to learning. It's called SEL or Social Emotional Learning. The five competencies of EI are:
Self Awareness (Koshas, Svadhyaya)
Self Management (Yamas, Niyamas)
Social Awareness (Sangha)
Social Management (Asteya, Satya, Ahimsa)
Motivation (Santosha, Shakti, Shanti)
When my yoga teacher’s words landed that morning I knew the ancient Indian yogis were teaching SEL four thousand years ago!
Because of my background as a teacher, educational consultant and life coach I see the benefits of yoga, meditation and breath techniques to help manage anxiety and stress. I am not surprised that schools are initiating yoga, meditation and breathing techniques to improve student performance, reduce bullying and manage anxiety. There is growing empirical evidence to support the connection between stress management and improved performance, health and reduced violence.
As a yoga teacher and educational consultant I am living my dream. I know my work is important and I know its time is due. If you know a teacher or parent who wants to make a positive difference and influence students in a meaningful way please share my book at this link.
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