I put on my Enya Pandora station and started with some breathing exercises. Then we moved into some toe touches, reverse swan dives, and finally chataranga, upward dog, and downward dog. At first, the boys were a little self-conscious and silly. But as we continued, they began to take it seriously and their demeanors changed. They all ended up really enjoying themselves, and we had a wonderfully productive literacy block afterward.
Today was our first day of ELA MCAS and the official start of my experiment. We had already set up the classroom the previous afternoon, and so when the students arrived, they quickly found a spot and joined in. I noticed that the boys who were silly yesterday were challenging themselves to hold the correct form today. I also noticed that no one was visibly nervous; instead, they were excited about our new routine. We continued through morning announcements (stopping to stay the pledge of course) and finished after about 20 minutes. Then we transitioned right into MCAS.
Of course, I have no idea if our yoga session helped their test-taking abilities. I'll have to see their growth rate this summer before I can make any judgement on that. But I did observe less anxiety and a lot of perseverance. They worked their butts off today! I also noticed less fidgeting after they had turned in their tests and were waiting for the rest of the class to finish. Usually, I have kids getting up constantly, going through their desks, or asking to go to the bathroom multiple times. But today, I had none of that. And I don't think it was a coincidence.
If you are wondering about incorporating yoga into your classroom, it's easier than you think! There are a lot of research articles that promote kinesthetic learning as well as websites out there. I especially like Classroom Yoga Project. They have a lot of videos and easy ways to start small. They also have lessons that integrate yoga into the curriculum. Good luck and let me know how it goes!