Yoga Improves Executive Functions in Students

The introduction of yoga into Casa di Mir’s curriculum was based on recent studies showing that exercise and mindfulness such as yoga, increase the development of executive functions…

By Cathy Zoeckler, Casa di Mir Lower Elementary Teacher

Have you noticed Casa’s lower elementary children practicing yoga in the multipurpose room on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings? What a wonderfully peaceful way to begin a day! The children really enjoy the refreshing calm and time to focus on breathing – but it also improves their ability to learn.

The introduction of yoga into Casa di Mir’s curriculum was based on recent studies showing that exercise and mindfulness such as yoga, increase the development of executive functions (EFs) that affect paying attention, thinking and planning.

Core EFs consist of flexibility, inhibition, and working memory; more complex EFs are problem solving, reasoning and planning1. Maria Montessori called it “normalization” when children become so engaged in working that no amount of distraction could pull them away. She believed that love of work, concentration, self-discipline and sociability all must be present for the normalization process to occur2. Developing EFs is an important part of the learning process.

Casa di Mir is so fortunate to have two parent yoga practitioners to guide the students this year. Amene Mahboobi leads LE2 children on Tuesdays, and Bay Thongtheppairot leads LE1 students on Wednesday mornings. Casa parents, if you would like to start your morning with a Sun Salutation, you are invited to come and join us!

References:

  • 1National Institute for Mental Health (2012). Retrieved from:​http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity ​disorder/ADHD_Booklet_CL508_144426.pdf, rev. 2012
  • 2Montessori, M. (1949)The Absorbent Mind. Thiruvanmiyur: Kalakshetra Publications

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