How Yoga can promote a healthy lifestyle for Early Childhood Educators
Early Start Programs’ yoga has helped many children around Australia learn valuable new skills, from balance and focus to managing emotions through breathing exercises and developing self-confidence and body awareness. This Early Childhood Educators’ Day, we are changing the focus to show educators how they too can benefit from the mind-body-soul balance Yoga provides.
As educators we know the importance of giving each child the best start to life with care and education. The key to this fundamental need are the educators themselves and their relationships and connections with children. Early Start Programs would like to demonstrate our gratitude to those who dedicate their lives to supporting children’s learning journeys. Coming around only once a year, Early Childhood Educators’ Day gives us the opportunity to do just that – it’s the perfect time to focus on the health and wellbeing of those who provide enriching learning experiences that support children’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social development every day.
Children learn from watching, imitating and repeating, following the role models that surround them. A career in early education and care, while rewarding, can also be stressful and draining for educators, who are responsible for nurturing, educating and encouraging children and who need to make sure to set positive examples for the little ones to follow.
We all know we can’t run on an empty tank, so by focusing on the physical and mental wellbeing of early childhood educators, we can ensure Australian children are presented with a great foundation for a healthy life.
Yoga programs are increasingly common at early education and care services around the country as the benefits for children are plenty and clear. For adults, the trend has been around for much longer and yoga studios can be found in almost every Australian suburb, so it’s no surprise that early childhood educators are turning to the ancient practice to support and grow their mental, emotional and physical health.
Meaning ‘to join or yoke together’, yoga is an inclusive practice that encourages effort, intelligence, accuracy, commitment and dedication. Built on the three main elements of exercise, breathing and meditation, it is also a renowned antidote for stress, making it an appealing activity for those working in early education, who need to be calm and cheerful every day.
For early childhood educators, yoga can provide the perspective and headspace to find and create alternative means of handling whatever the day may bring. Yoga also facilitates the integration of healthy activities into learning programs, which encourage children to become engaged and involved learners. Furthermore, yoga provides an environment and time for educators to reflect on the power and responsibility that comes with their role of educating tomorrow’s leaders. So here’s to all of the wonderful early educators, we encourage you to take a moment in your busy day for yourself!
How to begin?
For those interested in starting their own practice, take 10 minutes to yourself either early in the morning or after you get home from work and try the poses below. We have hand-picked these with early childhood educators’ busy days in mind and we explain the benefits they bring to your body, mind and soul.
- Warrior Pose
Educators are on their feet all day, always moving, reaching up and bending down to grab resources, utensils and to communicate with and comfort children, so you need to ensure your lower body is strong and your mind is grounded.
This pose stretches the hips and thighs, all while adding strength to the core, shoulders and arms.
- Start in a neutral, standing position. Inhale deeply as you step sideways with your right foot.
- Exhaling, rotate your left foot to face left and rotate your torso to the left. Make sure your right foot stays in position.
- Bend the left knee so your thigh is parallel to the floor, keep your right leg straight with the knee locked. Avoid extending the left knee (bent) past the ankle.
- Make sure your head, torso, left knee and foot are all aligned and facing forward.
- Stretch your arms out to shoulder height, keeping your shoulders relaxed and your gaze on the second finger of your left hand.
- Hold this pose for three full breaths then repeat on the other side.
- Cobra Pose
This is a fantastic pose for those experiencing back pain – a common complaint amongst educators who are always bending down to pick the little ones up when they need a cuddle. It also helps strengthen the muscles on your back to avoid future issues.
- Start on the ground, laying on your stomach.
- Place both palms under the shoulders and draw your elbows towards the sides of your body.
- Keep your gaze down to maintain a neutral neck position.
- Inhale and push down through the palms to lift your chest, engaging the core and quads.
- Lift your knees off the ground while keeping the tops of your feet pressed into the ground.
- Hold the pose for up to four full breaths.
- Wide-legged Forward Fold Pose
This is another great pose for those suffering from back pain or for days when you spend a long time sitting in traffic, commuting or programming. It sends an increased flow of blood to the brain, it is a powerful tool to help de-stress the mind at night or get your brain in tip top condition for the day ahead in the morning.
- Start in a neutral, standing position. Bring your hands to your hips. Step your feet wide apart and turn your toes slightly in and your heels slightly out. Make sure your heels are aligned.
- Inhale and lengthen your torso. As you exhale, fold forward at the hips. Keep your torso long and drop your gaze behind you.
- Bring your hands to rest on the floor.
- As you inhale, lengthen your spine even further, and as you exhale, fold deeper. Take three or four full rounds of breaths.
- When you are ready to release, bring your hands to your hips, press firmly through your feet and lift your torso as you inhale. Remember to keep a flat back.
Our Present to Your Team
To help you celebrate your team of educators and support them in taking time to focus on their emotional and physical wellbeing, Early Start Programs is offering three free yoga sessions and five yoga resource gifts for some very special centres in Queensland*.
All you have to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, explaining why your team stands out and why you should win one of our prizes. We want to know what makes your educators special – tell us your story, share an anecdote or gloat about your achievements so far this year; we want to celebrate you!
The winning services will win not only a yoga session for their educators, but also a free trial of our yoga program for children*. To learn more about our programs, go to www.earlystartprograms.com.au
*Conditions apply, whilst we have many providers in both urban and regional locations, where one of our many yoga providers are not available in your area, a resource kit will be substituted.