by Christine Mason, Jeff Donald, and Tim Mills,
Schools — teachers, counselors, students, families, and administrators— so need our help right now. Coming out of COVID, even as we see it re-emerging, we continue to be stressed out. Teacher morale is low for so many reasons. Youth lost two years of socialization and we are finding that when they returned to school this fall, they didn’t just fall back into routines, and here we are 9 months later with continuing problems. It has been a time of chaos, uneasiness, and a wondering about what it is going to take to get back on track.
Yet, what do we know about the power of kundalini yoga? What do we know about its potential to bring clarity, calm, and insights to each of us and to our communities? Kundalini yoga is such a gift. A gift we are sharing with schools.
We need your help. Schools need your help. Our planet needs your help. And we are prepared to guide you through what we are asking of kundalini yoga teachers. Note that right now mindfulness is starting to flourish as a practice to alleviate stress in schools. That is well and good; however, we believe that mindfulness becomes more valuable when we consider ways to bring bodily and yogic healing as well. So, schools are also becoming a little more open to yoga. It has been a long time coming. In the western world, it has taken centuries to be at this place of potential. However, we know it is far from being accepted readily in many places.
Here is what we are doing to support kundalini yoga in schools:
- Chris, along with Jeff Donald, Krishna Kaur, and others has written a book co-published with KRI: Cultivating Happiness, Resilience and Well-Being through Mindfulness, Meditation, and Movement: A Guide for Educators. You can access the book and videos of webinars through KRI and watch for additional webinars by joining Chris’ Heart Mind community for monthly eNews. More information can also be found here.
- Note that as Cultivating Happiness was written, KRI was involved. It has KRI’s seal of approval, even as we offered modifications of traditional kundalini teachings for secular school settings. KRI staff understands that some modifications may help in making kundalini more accessible and acceptable to teachers, families, and students. In the book we give you modifications, advice on how to approach schools, and numerous sets with photos of youth doing warm-ups, breathwork, kriyas, and meditation.
- Jeff Donald has been actively engaged in providing an expanding platform for kundalini yoga and mindfulness for the past several years. At this stage, the mindfulness program he coordinates in a large urban school district in Maryland has expanded to the point where 30 social workers (one for every high school) and 14 “wellness coaches” are being hired. These “wellness coaches” are new staff who have experience teaching yoga.
This expansion is part of an evolving plan that Jeff put into motion in 2018 – the plan uses mindfulness lesson plans developed by the district, along with materials from Yoga for Youth, and Chris’ two books on mindfulness – each of which references kundalini yoga– (Mindfulness Practices and also Mindful School Communities). Jeff is following the framework and guidance we present in our recent book on Cultivating Happiness.
As Jeff says, “Schools are in a crisis. The time to get kundalini yoga in schools is NOW – there will never be a better time.”
Tim Mills is working with a cadre of Kundalini yoga teachers and educators in the Boston, MA area to bring the benefits of yoga, self-worth, confidence, coping skills and resilience to youths in underprivilege schools and communities.
Over the past 24 months the new nonprofit startup – “Catch our Breath” (CoB) has developed a student-centered curriculum focused on providing youths with life-long tools to counter the overpowering stresses they face in today’s volatile, complex and uncertain world. Team Director, Sahaj Kaur noted: “Our goal is to offer an antidote for children to learn critical self-help & lifelong tools to effectively face and hopefully overcome these stresses.”
To achieve these goals, CoB will focus its wellness curriculum on 3-domains of student activity: Calmness of Mind, Personal Power, and Open-Heartedness. There are activities for pranayama, yoga, and meditation. Tim and others have piloted their approach at a few Boston area schools.
In November, 3HO will be offering an Educational Summit for kundalini yoga practitioners, other yoga practitioners, mindfulness experts, educators, and people who care about children and schools. The summit will be on Nov. 5 – details to come. This is a first! And a critical step in solidifying the potential of kundalini yoga in prek-12 schools.
As we move forward, we must address several issues:
- How do we stay true to the spirit and guidelines of kundalini yoga, while using our intuition to introduce kundalini into schools?
- As you are collaborating with schools to teach kundalini yoga, are you volunteering? If you are charging, what charges are schools accepting? Are you helping schools consider their options for payment, such as using the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief) funds to pay for your supports and equipment such as mats for students?
- Who do you turn to when you have questions?
Establishing Systems of Support
We want to connect with you – to help support your efforts and to get information about is working and not working as you We are in the process of setting up systems of support for educators. Within the next month, we will be introducing a list that will be visible on Facebook, other social media, and in regular columns.
What You Can Do
To contribute to the success of this movement we are asking for the following:
- Join our list (information will be forthcoming)
- Help spread the word through social media and to your communities and your students • Use our book as a resource and reference, an authority of sorts to reference when you are questioned about the benefits and rationale, and suggested practices for modifying kundalini yoga for schools.
- Let us know about your ideas, whether you have access to sponsorship, whether you want to help write articles, or lead presentations virtually or in-person.
- Keep up your practice!
In closing. . .
Now is the time. We have a window of opportunity. 2022 is the year to pledge a full-force effort to make a difference for kids, families, schools, and our planet. By keeping this transformational science to ourselves, we are missing an opportunity to share. We are called to be teachers, not students. Please join with us and open the window to healing, alleviating trauma, resilience, the best thinking and wisdom, and the potential for what could be a better today and a brighter tomorrow.
Note: We each practice kundalini yoga under our spiritual names: Ravi Kaur (Christine Mason), Dharma Atma (Jeff Donald) and Simran Randeep (Tim Mills). We are eternally grateful for KRI’s endorsement and partnership in this venture.
If you live in the DC metro area and are interested in being a mindfulness- yoga “wellness coach” in Jeff’s school district, please let us know — reach out to [email protected] for details. In the Boston area, Tim is looking for seva volunteers ([email protected]).
Purchase the Cultivating Happiness course or book from KRI and present evidence of purchase, and Chris will send you a complimentary copy of her latest eBook, Teen-to-Teen Peer Supports: Guidelines for Peer Supports for Teen Suicide Prevention, which contains over 80 pages of recommendations and lessons plans for implementing programs in schools ([email protected])
KRI is a non-profit organization that holds the teachings of Yogi Bhajan and provides accessible and relevant resources to teachers and students of Kundalini Yoga.