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Philadelphia Freedom: Inner-City Kids Find Peace With Yoga in the Classroom

in YD News, Yoga Heroes, Yoga in the Classroom, Yoga Therapy

We’re going to close the work week with one more story of love, compassion and ooey gooeyness. If you just can’t handle any more, please, we warn you, look away now and live in your joy.

Still with us? OK, phew.

tird grader yoga phillyAs rumor has it, Philadelphia’s come to be known as the city of brotherly love. That’s cool, but love is NOT what we felt after eating those late night cheese steaks! *shakes fists to sky* Actually, that’s not true, we don’t even eat cheese steaks! Nevertheless, we’re going to let Philly hold onto that title today after reading about brother-of-another-gender, Jill Cummings – a Yoga Teacher who has made it part of her job to help inner-city kids find peace, through yoga. Ms Cummings has already donated her time to multiple elementary schools in the area, where she presents 45-minute classes focusing on breathing techniques and encouraging the chillens to engage by making it more about fun (even though they’re learning to relax – sneaky!)

Children learn from yoga because it gives them self-awareness, and helps them relax and cope with anger. “It’s getting them into their own bodies so they develop body awareness,” Cummings said. “They use their breathing. They use their physical bodies.”

At H.B. Wilson Elementary, even third grade teacher, Joan Trojan, integrates the breathing practices into the regular classroom routine, and is a supporter of adding yoga classes throughout the district.

“Whenever we need to calm down, we just stop and do our quiet breathing,” said Trojan, an 18-year member of the school district. “It keeps them positive, and they’re able to do it themselves.”

“They have so much coming at them from everywhere,” she said. “It really helps them harness their inner energy. It helps them focus, helps them cope. I see it immediately.”

OK, so you’re thinking, these are inner-city kids, aren’t they rowdy and obnoxious? Mmm, maybe. They’re kids! But have you ever seen a little guy or gal get lost in imagination and peace?

The children were not only receptive to the idea of yoga but were also excited about it. According to Trojan, they even tell one another to “start breathing” sometimes.

It helps my heart relax more,” said Bryanna Graham, a third grader. “It’s very fun.”

Right, so. That. Is it. Our hearts have successfully succumbed to the sweetness and have melted to mere puddles of admiration. We’re going to go sing a few rounds of Whitney’s “The Greatest Love of All” and call it a week. Oh, we’re sorry, did we get that song stuck in your head? You’re welcome. You can’t deny the tones of inspiration! You’re just lucky we didn’t say “Wind Beneath My Wings”… doh!


2 comments… add one
  • Not-for-nothin’, but I get “The Greatest Love of All” stuck in my head at least twice a month. Seriously. I’m trying to think if this is time #3 in the last four weeks and if that in any way qualifies as ‘normal’ for my demographic.

    …and now I’m trying to figure out what my demographic is. Crap.

    Good for the kids, though. I daresay that being exposed to yoga at such a young age turn out to be an extremely good influence on them later in life.

  • Nice one, I’m a fan of kids being taught yoga, the earlier the better! But your Jedi mind trick didn’t work on me! No, I’ve got some special ability to block songs people try to get stuck in my head. It only works if I do it to myself! 😉

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