Dear Manduka,

I just received my new mats!

With them, I’m looking forward to enjoying the moments that make my and my students to feel empowered and self-aware, to teach them to navigate their emotions and be aware of their bodies in space, and help them to achieve their learning potential and build strong relationships both on and off the mat.

In my most challenging moments, I look to yoga as it helps me remember to breathe, notice the world around me, and take time to appreciate what I have, which inspires me to hopefully be better teacher and leader in my school.

–Sara Lev

For Sara, a Transitional Kindergarten teacher, yoga has become an essential element of her teaching approach, and now with Manduka mats in her classroom, she is better able to address her individual students’ academic and developmental strengths and needs. The impact of yoga on her students is tangible.

“I see their interest in it, their excitement around trying it,” she says, “and I see the benefits yoga offers them in their learning and their interactions with others.”

For her young students, the skills that yoga teaches can be pivotal in even the smallest exchanges. Whether they encounter conflict with classmates or struggles with schoolwork, yoga helps children navigate strong emotions, and even sidestep tantrums. One five-year old student, for instance, became angry about something during snack time in Sara’s classroom. But before the child could lose his cool entirely, Sara observed one of the child’s friends walking over to say, “Take deep breaths!” Just this simple cue diverted the moment in a more positive direction, allowing the small student to take control and respond, rather than react. While this would be impressive for some high school students, or even adults, it’s pivotal for kindergarteners in the midst of their development.

“Yoga empowers students to solve their own problems and to be more self-aware,” says Sara, “therefore enabling them to make helpful changes to their behavior in the moment, without support.”

As for Sara, bringing yoga into her classroom has given her space to cultivate her own self-awareness, benefitting her daily life, her relationships, and her work. And on and off their new yoga mats, Sara’s students are continually teaching her just as much as she teaches them.

“They have taught me that sometimes plans need to be thrown out and changed in favor of something that is more fun, relevant or interesting, and that is ok! They show me love, curiosity and joy each day.”

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