An Education Evolution - #Yoga4Education

08/11/2017 12:02 am ET Updated Aug 17, 2017

You can’t help but notice a cultural shift happening. Now, more than ever, people are becoming aware. Aware of their place in the world. Aware that they are active participants in their environment with the ability to shape their communities. As I have written in the past, this is extremely meaningful to me and to my company, CatalystCreativ, which was named catalyst because of the importance of awakening humans from passive consumers to active creators. At Catalyst, we develop and manage campaigns that educate and inspire audiences, changing the way they think about their place in the world. So, I am constantly looking for campaigns that match our values to showcase.

I most recently was introduced to a campaign, which I think is extremely important, particularly as we are developing the future leaders that will hopefully change our world.

It all started after the events of September 11th, when a team of three yoga instructors banded together to help children and volunteered in 10 schools around Ground Zero / the World Trade Center site. Educators recognized that kids needed a way to process their emotions and the terrible events they had witnessed.

Bent On Learning formed and started to provide regular yoga classes and now serves in 16 schools, teaching students in Pre-K through 12 throughout New York City.

Fast forward 16 years and the need has continued to grow, specifically in the New York City public school system.

The numbers:

  • 1,700 public schools in NYC
  • 153,000 NYC students don’t have gyms or dedicated physical fitness spaces
  • Nearly 77% of students were classified as living in poverty
  • 83,000 NYC high school students feel sad or hopeless each month

Kids today are being inundated with more media, information and distractions that keep them from connecting to their bodies, their emotions, and their communities.

The need is clear, and Bent On Learning has 50 schools on the waiting list that have requested yoga to help them meet the physical, social and emotional needs of their students.

The Bent On Learning program teaches kids the fundamentals of the practice- to move, breathe and relax. These very tangible tools allow students to manage external pressures from their homes, neighborhoods, their schoolwork and peers. But, more broadly and importantly, it also creates greater self awareness.

It circles back to where I started. It is awareness of oneself. It is a concept that cultures before us intuitively understood, we have lost touch with and the science is just catching up with.

Among students reporting psychological benefits, many cited stress reduction; many used yoga to manage negative emotions; and some propagated more optimism. We also found evidence that yoga may lead to emergent positive benefits in health behaviors.

Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

In many schools across the US, kids still take a pledge to their country every day. What if kids took a pledge to reflect and honor themselves daily? To understand the power of a seemingly simple, and often taken for granted, tool like your breath? To move their bodies and be mindful?

With the hashtag #Yoga4Education, Bent On Learning and philanthropic, yogi-inspired legging brand K-DEER have launched a social media campaign and partnered to bring awareness for yoga in schools. By August 24, the goal is to raise enough to provide yoga to at least 5 of the 50 schools (600 kids) before school is back in session this September.

As with everything, it starts with education and teaching kids how to use their internal resources is a BIG part of the missing piece in our current system. AND it starts with each of us making a change locally.

Help drive the evolution and spread awareness through this link- http://bentonlearning.org/kdeer2017/

Follow and help Bent On Learning continue their mission to teach kids to be more focused, healthier and happier in learning and in life.

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