Benefits of yoga in school: ‘higher attendance, less bullying and violence’

The onward march of yoga in schools continues, this time in a low-income part of California’s Bay Area. (For those wondering, yes, there are low-income and underserved areas in a part of the state best known for San Francisco and Silicon Valley.)

Behind this latest is our Ashtanga-related Sonima Foundation:

Thanks to a partnership with the Sonima Foundation, which is based in Southern California, 3,400 students from five schools in East Palo Alto and two in Menlo Park will join more than 24,000 boys and girls across San Diego County, New York, Houston and Florida in a yoga-based health and wellness program aimed at improving their mindfulness and nutrition.

“We’re thinking that we will see results within the first two months,” said Superintendent Dr. Gloria M. Hernandez-Goff, who expects immediate improvements in attendance and office referrals. “That’s how much impact this program has. And then, of course, there is the long term, which has a lot to do with building those resiliency skills, learning how to cope with issues and problems and self regulation when things don’t go well.”

The Sonima Foundation curriculum, which is funded for three years, aims to provide children — in this case transitional kindergarten through eighth grade — with the skills to handle stressful situations, curtail bullying and violence, prevent obesity, and improve their ability to absorb information in the classroom.

“Success is synergistic with environment,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who praised the district for not dismissing the importance of mindfulness. “Create the right conditions, create the right climate, success becomes irresistible. So as we try to struggle to address the issue of academic achievement, we have to be cognizant of the conditions to which we are trying to advance that principle.”

Hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, chairman of the Sonima Foundation Board, added: “If we could have the kids in Ravenswood achieve in mind, body, soul and spirit the level of health and wellness that out lieutenant governor’s hair exemplifies, this will be the greatest success in the history all projects.”

There’s also coverage here.

It’s worth noting that I haven’t seen any recent updates about the lawsuit against the yoga-in-school program.

A key piece to the Sonima program — as with its others — is a research component, in part through Stanford University. One reason these studies are important is because public policy changes don’t happen — or at least happen a lot less frequently and with a lot more effort — without data-driven evidence. So if you want to see a yoga/wellness program like Sonima’s be made a part of the K-12 school system’s health/physical education program — in other words be OKd as something that fulfills the definition/requirement for those programs — there has to be some facts to back up your case.

Sonima seems intent on building up a body of evidence.

Posted by Steve

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s