Lessons in yoga at Maffra Primary School

Maffra Primary School has introduced yoga as part of the schools curriculum. Grades 1 and 2 students Harper Cann, Eadie Langshaw, Kade Hands, Georgie Garth and Jack Murphy, learn a few moves from instructor Janelle Hesz.
Maffra Primary School has introduced yoga as part of the schools curriculum. Grades 1 and 2 students Harper Cann, Eadie Langshaw, Kade Hands, Georgie Garth and Jack Murphy, learn a few moves from instructor Janelle Hesz.

MAFFRA Primary School is setting the trend, by introducing yoga to the students' curriculum.

In a sign of how much things have changed since their grandparents' generation received the strap and cane from teachers at school, students are attending one 45-minute yoga session each week.

The left-field idea came from teacher and qualified yoga instructor Janelle Hesz, who sensed students were crying out for a change from the normal day-to-day grind of chalk and talk.

"The kids wanted something new and refreshing, so I said to Matt (principal Matt Currie) 'give it a go' - so he jumped on board."

Ms Hesz said the benefits of yoga were far-reaching.

"It's not as people think it is," she said.

"It's not an adult yoga where they're just striking a pose and working on flexibility.

"The yoga the kids are doing is fun, it's engaging, they're getting education about their bodies and social skills, they're also interacting with each other.

"They're working on their subtleness and brain health because we're stimulating a lot of the brain, and we're working on all of their nervous and glandular systems, so they're learning and experiencing that at the same time.

"I'm also working with their breath patterns that stimulates the nervous system to calm them down.

"Things like security and confidence, learning how to stand well and breathing in a certain way is going to actually help them be more confident and stronger in themselves, just through connection through their breath in a certain way."

With problems such as ADHD prevalent in many children, it is hoped the program will help keep students in the best possible frame of mind.

"It's great because it's not just sitting down and coming in and meditating; you'd lose the kids straight away," Ms Hesz said.

"It's fast-paced and interactive.

"Every kid that is a little bit apprehensive at the start has joined in by the end - so far I've had every kid be inclusive.

"The feedback I've got so far is that they want more - they love it, it's fun, they come in with so much excitement and go out so relaxed and happy."

Grade 1 student Kade Hands has been enjoying his yoga sessions for a few weeks, and highlighted the therapeutic environment as one of the most enjoyable aspects.

"It's fun and relaxing," Kade said.

As Maffra gets stuck into another school year, parents and teachers will look on with interest to see if the yoga program helps with improved academic results.

Mr Currie said he hoped the program would help students in a range of areas.

"With our students we saw a need to really improve their emotional wellbeing and an increasing factor with the overall education package now is that unless the social and emotional wellbeing of students is being catered for, the curriculum results can be impacted," he said.

"Parents have loved it, even with new parents when we take them around the school and mention that we do yoga they go 'that's fantastic'.

"I just think we'll see some really exciting benefits from it."