A mindful way to move more
Young students who participate in the Challenge to Change yoga curriculum are often reminded: "Your smart mind is connected to your kind heart is connected to calm body."
The program, which incorporates yoga poses, breath work and mindfulness practices into the classroom, reached more than 3,000 kids across seven Dubuque elementary schools this year with plans to expand even further into additional districts across Iowa and Wisconsin.
5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! recommends that kids get at least one hour of physical activity each day. Regular physical activity is essential for weight maintenance and prevention of chronic diseases. Children who embrace an active lifestyle are more likely to stay active as adults.
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"Yoga in the classroom is a great brain break for kids to physically move their body with breath," said Molly Schreiber, founder of Challenge to Change yoga studio and creator of the curriculum for schools.
Schreiber, a former elementary school teacher, started practicing yoga to mitigate trauma after the death of her husband in 2007. She soon realized the benefits yoga could provide for both adults and children, and was inspired to create Challenge to Change after receiving her 200-hour registered yoga certification and 95-hour kids yoga certification.
There are many different types of yoga, but in general, the ancient practice helps increase flexibility, improves muscle strength and aids in cardiovascular health. Yoga also comes with a host of mental benefits.
"In our busy world, we don’t take time to notice how we feel in our minds, hearts and body," said Schreiber. Yoga and mindfulness, she said, helps kids learn how to self-regulate their behavior and put a "pause between action and reaction."
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Challenge to Change received grant funding through 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! and used the funds to help host end-of-year yoga celebrations for each participating elementary school where students received a bookmark which reminded them to practice healthy habits over the summer.
"A powerful way to make sure you have a calm body is to feed it correctly with fruits and vegetables," Schrieber reminds students. "It's all connected."
Learn more about Challenge to Change's yoga in the school program — including in-services, online curriculums, classroom yoga and assemblies — here.
5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count!
Healthy Choices Count! is a health-focused movement for kids that’s under the nationally recognized program, 5-2-1-0. This proven, scientific method helps keep kids healthy by focusing on the importance of good habits. And it all starts by encouraging them to eat and play the right way. Learn more.