How wonderful it would be if yoga was taught in all schools

Story by: Jordanna Schriever Education Reporter The Advertiser April 28, 2014 5:30AM

FOCUSED: Walkerville reception teacher Jo Dekok with students Isabel, Samarbir and Sophie

FOCUSED: Walkerville reception teacher Jo Dekok with students Isabel, Samarbir and Sophie Photo: Calum Robertson Source: News Corp Australia

AS more than 200,000 South Australian students return to school this week, some of the youngest are taking it in their relaxed stride.

St Andrew’s School, at Walkerville, is using yoga exercise to help maximise students’ abilities.

Qualified instructor and reception teacher Jo Dekok teaches her students yoga daily to help them develop a keen sense of self and inspire calmness.

“Yoga with kids is far more interactive and it’s fun; it’s a way for them to learn about themselves,” she said.

“It’s definitely a lot more about them figuring themselves out and what their bodies can do.”

For ones so young, she said it was more important they developed a sense of self-awareness and reflection, rather than perfecting complex poses.

“They’re still all doing yoga so it doesn’t matter if your foot’s wrong,” she said.

Studies have shown yoga offers numerous benefits for adults and children alike, from reducing stress and lowering blood pressure to fitness and flexibility.

At St Andrew’s, students are shown picture cards with poses or copy Ms Dekok’s pose.

“I don’t correct them, I let them concentrate and work out for themselves how they should be standing,” she said.

She guides them through self-meditation, which she said was particularly helpful for reducing stress when the children were finding other learning concepts hard to grasp.

“For some children at this age it’s hard for them to sit still but I’ve found breaking up the day with a bit of yoga helps,” she said. “It really refreshes them.”

Long-term yoga practitioners report musculo–skeletal and mental health improvements.