with Sünje O’Clancy and Hannah Lei Prunty, BA, RYT
In this interactive workshop, we explore how to integrate yoga and mindfulness into the classroom with practices and strategies that have been effectively used by both trained yoga instructors and educators in actual school classroom environments. Although primarily focused on elementary school ages, most of these practices may be successfully utilized with older students as well.
Through experiential activities participants will learn about the ways stress and hectic environments impact states of mind for both children and adults, and how mindfulness can be used to intervene on those challenges.
We begin with exercises highlighting how a stressful environment affects our behavior. We then explore yoga and mindfulness strategies that counteract the harmful effects of stressful situations, pinpointing ways these methods can help us remain calm and centered in a busy classroom. Moving into smaller breakout groups, we collaborate to develop creative solutions for participants’ specific professional and personal needs. We concentrate on opening pathways toward being fully present and connecting from the heart with others via sound exercises and other activities relating to the five senses, yoga, relaxation, and breathing techniques.
Finally, time permitting, informed by our personal experiences, group discussions, and collaborative explorations, we consider ways to adapt these mindfulness practices for our students, and then role-play how to teach them in the classroom.
Sünje O’Clancy, MA, E-RYT, RCYT is the founder and director of the children’s yoga company Yoga Rascals. Teaching yoga to students of every age in a variety of settings for the past 20 years, she created the Yoga Rascals program for children while instructing elementary school students as part of their weekly P.E. curriculum. The program has been taught successfully in many schools and other venues for over a decade.
As director of teacher training she educates others how to teach yoga to children, and led Yoga Rascals to become the first children’s yoga school in California to be registered with Yoga Alliance®. In recent years Yoga Rascals’ teacher training partnered with a local school district in an underserved community to volunteer afterschool yoga classes.
Having had the privilege of working closely with elementary school teachers in the classroom inspired Sünje to also offer workshops for educators on how to integrate yoga and mindfulness practices into the school day.
In addition to teaching kids yoga classes, she enjoys working with tweens and teens, and is currently developing a curriculum for adolescents based on the Yoga Rascals principles.
Sünje holds an MA from Ludwig-Maximiliams-University in Munich, Germany. Her most influential teachers are her teenage sons, and her yoga children.
Hannah Lei Prunty, BA, RYT holds a BA in Visual Arts, and K-8 multi-subject/art teaching credential. With over 18 years of experience as a public school teacher, she has experienced many changes in administrative policies and educational philosophies. Although the pendulum of educational politics continues to swing, she has seen that it is resiliency to stress that remains one of the most important factors in school success.
In the early 1990’s Hannah Lei attended the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. She began to practice yoga and mindfulness meditation regularly. Since that time, she has been sharing these self-regulating practices with her elementary school students. As a result, she and her students have benefitted both emotionally and academically.
After being certified to teach gentle and adaptive yoga for adults, she trained to become a children’s yoga teacher. She joined the Yoga Rascals staff as a kids’ yoga teacher in 2012. She also facilitates the Positive Discipline segment of Yoga Rascals’ 95-hour teacher training.
Hannah Lei currently works as a reading support teacher for grades 4-6. Her students enjoy their yoga breaks and find the mindfulness activities very helpful.