Teaching Yoga in Schools: Generating Self-Respect

yoga teacher trainingBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

If you are a Yoga instructor who is teaching a group of students in a school setting, there are a number of ways to incorporate teaching them core values, such as a strong sense of self-respect, along with traditional Yoga asanas, pranayama exercises and meditation techniques. As you get to know your students, you may find that behind a swaggering teenage boy’s smile, he has little regard for himself or his other classmates. Or you may find that some of your female students struggle with their own issues of self-esteem and self-respect, often times due to a poor body image and/or social and academic challenges during their adolescent years.


Both boys and girls will frequently struggle with an almost endless stream of academic, athletic, social, and family issues, which may in turn trigger feelings of failure, inadequacy and low self-esteem. Even elementary school students will be challenged by many of the same issues. These feelings often lower a student’s internal sense of self-respect. When a student’s self-respect plummets, he or she will also find it more difficult to feel respectful of the other students and teachers. Additionally, this lack of respect will frequently be evidenced by a lack of self-care on many levels and a neglectful attitude towards the school environment at large.

Providing your students with an age-appropriate, accessible and challenging Yoga class will help to build and strengthen their own internal sense of competency and self-respect. It is very important to make sure that the class sequence is geared towards both the age level of the students and their general fitness level. For example, if you usually teach 2nd or 3rd grade students, and you present the same class to 10th graders, including whimsical animals names for the poses, the 10th graders may not find the Yoga class to be serious enough to truly challenge them, either intellectually and physically.


Thus, tailoring your Yoga classes to the age of the students with whom you are working is very important. In order to keep the younger students engaged, it is recommended that the poses are not held for long periods of time and that you move relatively quickly from pose to pose. On the other hand, with middle and high school age Yoga students, longer holds will provide a substantial physical and emotional challenge for them, which will in turn generate increased levels of strength, flexibility and emotional resiliency. As their physical and emotional competency increases, so too will their pride and self-respect as they regularly complete a class that challenges them to reach their full potential.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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