Bend it like BabaYoga should be included in the curriculum because it sharpens the students’ mind.
Yoga exercises nurture the physical and mental wellbeing of both teachers and students leading to the delivery of quality education. What do we expect from our students? Perfect grades, of course. But the predominant practice of classroom-based and books-driven teaching-learning invests much less observation on the emotional, physical and mental forces that are decisive for a student’s perfect grades. Breaking such traditional stereotypes, yoga in education is a recent pedagogical experiment that seems to have ensured the effectiveness of teaching-learning, with both teachers and students mutually engaging in an interactive classroom—the key to the delivery of quality education.
Yoga is a physical activity that aims to maintain the harmony of the physical, mental and emotional needs. It is an art for balanced living and improved health through proper management of the vital energies of the body and mind. Yoga has become more popular across the world, especially after Indian yoga guru and saint Baba Ramdev and his Patanjali organisation promoted the significance of yoga exercise as an organic therapy to heal all kinds of diseases. He defines yoga as 'meditation for the journey of life to the path of happiness', and happiness lies in a healthy body. Yoga exercise has its own typical pattern of activities, each serving a particular purpose to activate and revitalise the organs of the body and mind.
The first step is Yama which promotes peace, empowers the capability to observe moral rules, enhances the act of socialisation, and cultivates the cultural habit of respecting and listening to oneself and others. The second step Niyama eliminates negative thoughts from the mind promoting positivity, self-image and sharp humour. The third step, Asana, teaches correct bodily postures and positions to prevent spinal pain, explore our bodies and take charge of its movements consciously and effectively; develops the power of imagination and techniques to remain still and be active situationally. Pranayama, the fourth step, is about breath synchronisation. An awareness of breathing-speed contributes to inner confidence, purification and ability to resolve conflicts as well as being vigilant at one’s aggressive behaviours. The last step is Dharana, the goal of which is to instil heightened concentration and visual memory, and enrich the cognitive power of thinking, understanding and imagining.
Including yoga in the curriculum remains an uphill task for Nepali schools that still obediently conform to orthodox beliefs and methodology. In order to bring yoga into schools, referring to Research on Yoga in Education, an association of educators introduced in 1978 by Micheline Flak, is tremendously relevant. Flak initiated the implementation of yoga in the French national education system about 30 years ago. The association specialises in formulating and teaching yoga techniques to educators, shares opportunities with them to explore innovative styles, and lets them experience if the theory corresponds to the classroom activity to improve the memory, attention and self-esteem of pupils. It lays the theoretical ground by pioneering classroom exercises and techniques as a teaching method in the spirit of the six yoga steps. Research on Yoga is a two-year diploma course offering a wide range of exercises and techniques.
There are many ways of mobilising yoga practices in the classroom, be it outdoors or indoors, in order to generate a classroom filled with active, energetic, passionate, disciplined and peaceful students’ participation and their interactive rapport with the teachers’ teaching activity that allows perfect delivery of educational contents. As a result, perfect grades turn real.
As a physical education curriculum, yoga sharpens the students’ mind and hardens the heart. It makes them conscious of their rights and responsibilities. In the age of competition, students should be taught learning abilities. Besides, they should be taught human values such as love, truth, honesty, altruism and other humanitarian qualities. Today’s society is very violent, stressful, fast-moving and individualistic. Educating students of this generation not only on bookish knowledge but life management is important. Thus, the incorporation of yoga education in the curriculum and the formation of an academy-centric research programme on yoga is a must.
Chalise holds a Master’s in Literature from Tribhuwan University.