From teaching yoga full-time in New York City schools to becoming a high school social worker in Hawaii, Suzy seeks to integrate yoga and mindful practices at all levels in the school system. In her various roles working in the education system, Suzy Park, LCSW recognizes the value yoga and mindfulness tools bring to a school community and has consistently returned to her Yoga Ed. tools as a resource for students.
Accessible and Relevant
Embodying the practices of yoga does not necessarily need to look like taking a daily yoga class or meditating for hours at a time. Without needing extra space or equipment Suzy offers accessible, trauma-informed tools during individual counseling sessions. Suzy shares that her inclusion of yoga into the therapy space enhances her current work with students. Meeting students at their developmental levels and needs,
“I’ll offer opportunities for standing and balancing poses to help bring more focus, grounding, and energy… whatever feels relevant to what the student is working on.”
In her work with teens, Suzy identifies yoga tools are especially useful to aid in stress reduction and emotional regulation. At a time when stress is at an all-time high for students, yoga tools offer students the opportunity to mindfully take a break. “Guided visualizations are very popular; teenagers respond well to those exercises and are grateful for opportunities to relax while at school.” When asked how yoga tools can support the teens she works with Suzy acknowledges a critical area of development, “on a basic level, it helps them gain some space to better cultivate self-awareness, which I hope with time can begin to allow opportunities for them to take care of themselves.” By providing accessible coping skills that students can eventually practice on their own, Suzy shares skills that can benefit youth throughout their lifetime.
Whole School Health
Supporting the health of the whole school community is crucial during the pandemic. Suzy acknowledges the important role that educators and support staff play in the lives of students, but, “I also believe school leadership should make a concerted effort to prioritize and support teacher/staff wellness.” School social workers can be an advocate for making resources accessible to staff in addition to students. Suzy shares,
“I think we would benefit from these practices in the same way our students do. It’s a parallel process.”
In order to support the heavy emotional weight many educators are carrying, prioritizing practices that promote emotional wellness is essential. As Suzy notes, “yoga and mindfulness could be so beneficial for many, both physically and psychologically.” Yoga tools offer the unique opportunity to help educators feel better in their minds and bodies, providing moments of peace in times of uncertainty. Schools are a system that relies on each part working together. Wellness for students can only go so far if the adults in their lives are not feeling supported. Instead of telling educators to take care of themselves, yoga and mindfulness teaches educators to take care of themselves.
Learn more about Yoga Ed.’s Mindful Movement Program for student, teacher, and whole-school wellness today.