Tag Archives: back to school

Yoga Helps Relieve Back to School Anxiety for Students and Teachers

First day of school jitters ensue this time of year for students and teachers alike. Just a few nasty side effects of back-to-school anxiety include  constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, and headaches. Your first reaction may be to pop a pill, but thankfully, yoga can help, too.

Practice these simple yoga poses in the morning before school and in the evening before bed to calm your nerves, clear your mind, and release stress and tension.

Easy Pose to Feel Grounded

More comfortable than trying to twist and tweak your knees in lotus pose, Easy Pose offers the same calming effect in mind and body. You don’t have to be a pro at meditation, either. This pose is appropriate for anyone willing to be more centered. (more…)

Students Succeeding with Yoga Curriculum in the Classroom

As school budgets continue to shrink, one area we see cut time and time again is physical education. Schools eliminate this vitally important part of a student’s schedule in exchange for more classroom time to prep for tests, reduce the burden of a full-time teacher salary, and maintenance costs for gym and equipment. It’s to the detriment of our students that they lose PE programs. In some schools they’re actually finding new ways to infuse fitness back in to the learning environment, though.

Yoga has long been celebrated for its extensive list of benefits, which include focus, energy, and overall fitness for even the youngest of practitioners. While not as common as reading or math, yoga is making an appearance in more and more schools, and it’s proving as worthwhile to students as anything they’re learning in a book.

In 2001, The Accelerated School in Los Angeles introduced a pilot program of YogaEd. Lead by Tara Guber, an expert practitioner and teacher with more than 25 years experience, the students followed a secular yoga practice that taught relaxation, stress, self-esteem, as well as posture and body awareness. Two years later, the results of the program were analyzed in a study that deemed the yoga curriculum not only worthwhile for that school, but worthy of introduction in more schools. Today, they tell us they have 900 instructors in the 35 states and Canada.

Victor High School of Victor, New York is one school that has added yoga to its physical education curriculum. For the past seven years yoga has been on the elective schedule for students and it’s always one of the first classes to fill up, according to Shelly Collins, PE Department Chair and High School Physical Educator at Victor High. She told us the course was initially only open to juniors and seniors for the first five years, but it was so well received that they are now in their second year of offering the yoga class to freshmen and sophomores, too.

“We have a strong passion to introduce and teach our students activities that they can use for their lifetime,” said Collins. The staff practiced that passion seven years ago when the school’s director of physical education, Ronald Whitcomb, challenged them to find a fitness class that was popular in the community and bring it back to their students. After meeting with local yoga studio owners, the curriculum was set and the course added.

The Victor High students attend a one-hour beginner level class each week, and many have grown in their aptitude and enjoyment of the practice enough to pursue community yoga classes outside of school. “They are confident that they will be able to understand and participate,” said Collins.

Proven benefits of yoga in schools include improved self-esteem for students, better overall physical health, better grades, lower stress, and improved problem solving capabilities. What parent wouldn’t want that for their child? What teacher wouldn’t also benefit from this in each of her students?

“Yoga is a lifetime activity that our students find enjoyable and challenging,” said Collins. “Many students comment that they are more relaxed and less stressed after having finished one of our yoga classes. The health benefits are something that the students can feel right away, and in this day and age of ‘instant gratification,’ it has immediate results with our students.”

Unlike a math teacher who can’t so easily transition to teach an English class, yoga can be taught by anyone on staff with the certification. Hundreds of teachers have gained such certifications through Lisa Flynn’s Yoga 4 Classrooms, a program piloted at an elementary school in Maine. After positive feedback and great results, thousands of teachers were inspired to add the practice to their classrooms.

It’s important to note the use of “secular” yoga mentioned in the YogaEd program, as there are continually differing opinions on the religious implications of the practice. “We explain that yoga is not religion, and appeal to school administrators that our curriculum is modeled the same as English or math with lesson plans that meet national PE standards,” Ellen Vittoria of YogaEd told us. In some schools, the word yoga isn’t even used, nor is meditation, and it’s referred to as stretch class or something else generic. Schools avoid anything that may have a religious undertone to prevent backlash from parents. Vittoria explained that all of their course materials use English translations with no mention of Sanskrit or Hindu. Whether yoga is spiritual, religious, or purely physical, the debate exists and should be treaded lightly.

As far as the costs, they can actually be fairly minimal to the school or district. At Victor High, they made an initial investment of mats and blocks and replace as needed. It’s more affordable to have a current staff member, ideally someone from the physical education department, trained and certified than it would be to hire a full-time dedicated yoga instructor. It’s also possible that community members would lead the yoga courses for a free or discounted rate as a way of giving back.

The benefits exist for the students, teachers, and schools when any kind of physical fitness is included in the curriculum. But yoga goes beyond the lessons of sportsmanship and teamwork, it teaches discipline, commitment, and the ability to listen to oneself. “I feel like students get so stressed out these days over good grades, making teams, getting into the right college—it’s high competition. Yoga could be a great outlet for them to feel calm and teach each moment as it comes,” said Kathryn Budig, a renowned yoga expert who is releasing The Big Book of Yoga this fall with Rodale.

Also Read:

Back to School Yoga Relieves the Jitters

5 Ways Teachers Can Improve the Health of Their Classrooms

Sarah Wu’s “Fed Up With Lunch” Outs the Nutritionally-Void School Lunch Program

5 Healthy After-School Snacks for Your Kids

By Kiera S. Campbell, author of “Yummy Healthy Tummy”

You finished survived your back-to-school shopping for your kids. Now that they’re completely school-bound, why not plan on nutritious and easy-to-make snacks when they get home from school?

The temptation to serve packaged snacks can be overpowering when your youngsters beg for sugary treats with their pleading eyes, but do not succumb. Here are five healthy after-school snacks that your kids will love.

Frozen Bananas. No kid can resist the sight of a Popsicle-skewered frozen banana (pre-rolled in yogurt and rice cereal or any crunchy cereal). Have these awesome treats ready for your tot to satisfy his sweet tooth. The idea of sweet treats at the end of his kiddie-sized version of a “grueling school day” may look appealing to him. Serve frozen bananas instead of the traditional processed chocolate chip cookies.

Also Try: One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream (more…)

Guilt-Free School Fundraisers Are Replacing Candy Pushers

Chocolate bars. Take and bake pizza and cookies. Popcorn. Lollipops. Candy canes. Candied nuts. The list of typical school fundraisers goes on and on, and none of it is any good for you.

True, there’s always wrapping paper, pencils or magazines, but how much of that does one family need? Many schools have come up with new and creative ways to raise funds, with the added bonus that some of these new fundraisers work hard to help improve the nutrition in the students. After all, kids who eat healthier have better immune systems, which translates to fewer missed days at school. Kids who aren’t tired due to a poor diet have more energy and often have less discipline issues – all benefits that every school could use.

Here are some great healthy fundraising ideas for your school to try:

The New York Road Runners serve over 100,000 kids a week across the country in their youth fitness program Mighty Milers. Currently available in every state in the country, NYRR provides schools with the tools necessary to host successful Fitness Fundraisers based on mileage goals. In March 2010, P.S. 269 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY’s “Little Haiti,” held a quarter mile charity run for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and raised $3,200. One year later, P.S. 269 had another Fitness Fundraiser and raised over $5,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.

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Empty Calories Comic: Back to School Blues

See more Empty Calories right here in the blog each week, or receive one each month when you subscribe to our free newsletter.

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Simple Ways to Keep it Healthy This School Year

Getting children ready for school can be a daunting task. There are new clothes to buy, new books to pick up, and a plethora of new after school events to add to the schedule.

Perhaps that is why finding time to prepare and provide nutritious meals and snacks can be such a challenge for many parents who want to give their children the best school experience they can. Unfortunately, not giving higher priority to what types of foods our kids eat can actually hurt their performance in school.

You don’t have to carve out hours of time or be an expert chef to ensure that your children eat healthy throughout the school year. In fact, incorporating just a few of the following healthy eating tips can get your family eating well without missing any of the important events that make school time a memorable experience.

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Fuel Up to Play 60 Back for Another Season

Fuel Up to Play 60 is back. (Yay!)

Most well known for the catchy, rhyming commercial showcasing NFL players, the fantastic program to help children learn to eat healthy has returned for the new school year. The commercials, starring NFL players such as Washington Redskins’ Chris Horton, hope to use their popularity to drive home to kids the message that good foods and good play go hand in hand.

Created  by the trusted National Dairy Council and the NFL, working in conjunction with the USDA, this multi-faceted program covers all aspects of child nutrition and health. It has improved this year by adding a local, state and national student ambassador program.

Getting kids to eat healthy foods and exercise for the recommended 60 minutes every day has proven to be a tall task for many families. By adding support from well known and respected NFL players, it’s hoped that kids will establish life long healthy habits and stem the rise of childhood obesity. Parents and teachers who wonder how to get started with this task can find some great resources on the Fuel Up to Play 60 website, which features video clips, recipes, and exercise hints.

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Lessons in Proper Nutrition: Teaching MyPlate in the Classroom

When it comes to eating healthy, it’s never to early to start. Although nutrition can seem like a difficult topic to discuss with a young child, keeping it simple can set them up for a lifetime of healthy choices.

With the recent unveiling of the new USDA food icon MyPlate, starting up nutrition conversations with individuals of any age has become much more simple. In fact, the new icon is so recognizable that even young children can begin to identify what a healthy plate should look like. Educators and parents alike should use this symbol to not only help their children build healthy plates, but to start conversations with them about what eating healthy is and the importance behind it.

To help educators and parents out, many lesson plans exist to incorporate the MyPlate icon into the classroom and the home. To add to this ever-growing list of fabulous resources, please find two additional lesson plans ready for use below. The idea behind these is to make talking about nutrition fun and help children identify how their food choices fit into a well-balanced meal plan.

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Help Your Child go Back to School Safely with a Peanut Allergy

My son has a severe, life threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. We discovered this food allergy when he was two years old and we just could not figure out why he had severe asthma, requiring multiple emergency room visits, steroids and the like. He also randomly developed enormous hives all over his body and had difficulty breathing when the hives occurred. We took him to an allergist who tested him with both a skin test and a blood test, and we learned of the severity and breadth of the allergies.

Food allergies are different from food intolerances. A food intolerance can cause stomach upset, gastric distress, and possibly digestive issues in the form of diarrhea and constipation. Many people claim that they have a food allergy when a food does not agree with them, and this diminishes the severity for those with a true, life threatening allergy. A food allergy is defined as an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body’s immune system, and is most often triggered by the so called “Big 8”.  These eight foods account for 90% of all food reactions and are milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, shellfish, sesame, wheat and soy.

You may hear of a person outgrowing their food allergies, but peanut and shellfish most often remain as lifelong allergies. A food allergy affects the breathing and heart and can, if not stopped in time, lead to death. People who have been diagnosed with a food allergy are often prescribed an epi-pen, an auto-injector of epinephrine that must be injected into the upper thigh to stop the reaction.

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Rediscover “Me Time” and Refocus on Fitness

The school bell has rung. The breeze that you just felt pass you by wasn’t a wind, but instead it was the sigh of millions of  parents everywhere, breathing a sigh of relief. The kids are back in school, and that means that mom or dad can once again find time for themselves. Summer is a fun time for kids, but admittedly, it does leave something to be desired for parents, especially in the area of fitness. It can be difficult for a parent to devote hours to gym time, even if training for a race means that you simply must work out.

How can you rediscover “you” time? How can you get back in the habit of taking time to put yourself first – and more importantly, WHY should you?

If you’ve ever flown, you’ve heard the flight attendant instructions in the event of an emergency. Adults are always instructed to place their own oxygen masks on first, and then care for young children or those companions who may need help – or in the case of one humorous flight attendant, the women were told to care for themselves before their spouses. Humorous, yes, but there’s a grain of truth in this. If you don’t have anything in you to give, if you are depleted and exhausted – there’s no taking care of your family. You can’t give what you don’t have, and so it is mandatory to fill your own tank before you help your family.

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