Practicing self-awareness has become a popular topic in many schools and classrooms around the world. Teachers know, however, that activities reinforcing focus and mindfulness have been useful and beneficial for students for many years. Practicing self-awareness and emotional acceptance in physical education classes can be an important part of helping students to improve and maintain their health and well-being.
Physical Benefits of Mindfulness Practice
Mindful activities in school range from 5 minute brain breaks to taking deep breaths before big exams. Students and teachers alike use concepts relating to mindfulness to make education more effective and help students learn to manage emotions and practice self-management.
Stress is hard on the body. Students in middle and high school are often operating under high levels of anxiety or tension. Giving students an educational opportunity to become aware of their state of mind may allow them to step outside of their stress and to-do lists. Awareness of tension or stress doesn’t mean that it will disappear. However, consistent practice of acknowledgement and acceptance has been shown to improve students’ state of mind.
When you think about mindfulness, you might imagine meditation, silence, and stillness. While that’s certainly one way to help students practice mindful thinking, there are physical forms of awareness and focus that already make up parts of your PE curriculum.
Mindfulness in Competition & Conflict Resolution
Students’ emotional health and wellness is just as important as physical health and wellness to those who teach physical education. The mindfulness practices of learning to be aware of and manage emotions and relationships is a significant part of participation in sports, exercise, and teamwork.
Emotional health, and the practice of being mindful of interactions with others, is a part of helping students to become more adept at conflict resolution, showing compassion, and being a part of a community.
Students who are given opportunities through physical education classes to participate in competition get to practice active mindfulness. Playing a sport requires students to be present in the moment and see how their actions impact their teammates, coaches and opponents.
Losing provides the opportunity for students to accept negative outcomes. Educators can encourage students to be aware of how they are feeling, and to be intentional with how they react to a loss. Simply having focused their energy in pursuit of a goal can be viewed as a success all on its own.
Stretching and Focused Awareness in PE Class
The more traditional and calming aspect of practicing focus and awareness can be practiced through participating in focused stretching. Students can learn about controlled movements and breathing, along with the mental practice of being present and aware through stretching.
If you’re looking to get your students engaged and learning about controlled focus and awareness in PE, consider getting the right tools for the job. These yoga mats, blocks, and cards can partner with your guidance to give students a positive experience with engaging in mindful physical activity.
More Physical Education Activities & Inspiration
Physical Education is a place for all students to try new things, engage in teamwork, and learn more about their own health and wellness. To find more ideas and tools to make PE engaging and fun for students, see what’s new on the Physical Education topic page.