Yoga in Schools
Yoga has been an integral part of Health and Physical Education that has been a compulsory subject up to the secondary school stage since 1988. The NCF 2005 adopted a holistic definition of health in which yoga is an integral part of it.
Both yoga and physical education contribute to not merely the physical development of the child but have a positive impact on psychosocial and mental development as well. Playing group games have a positive impact on individual self esteem, promotes better interaction among children, imparts values of co-operation, sharing and to deal with both victory and defeat. Similarly yoga practice contributes to the overall development of the child and various studies have shown that it contributes to flexibility and muscular fitness and also corrects postural defects among school children.
There is also a growing realization that the health needs of adolescents, particularly their reproductive and sexual health needs, require to be addressed. Since these needs predominantly relate to sex and sexuality, which is culturally a very sensitive area, they are deprived of opportunities to get appropriate information. There is a need to provide children accurate and authentic information and help them to construct knowledge and acquire life skills, so that they cope up with the concerns related to the process of growing up, counter stress and strains and cope up with examination stress.
Within this overall framework both yoga and physical education are seen as routes for achieving overall development of children.
However, up till now both yoga and physical education have not been given the due importance and neither has their contribution to the health and overall development of the child been adequately acknowledged. The constraints faced by yoga and physical education are related to a number of factors that affect the quality of school education in general and health and physical education in particular. This is the right time for making health and physical education to be considered as one of the important components of introduction of yoga in schools. In order to make this subject as a subject at par with other subjects of school education, the project can help in advocating the area of health and physical education to be treated not merely an instructive area but also having strong experiential learning component. The project, therefore, should focus on preparing/training teachers in yoga focusing on the comprehensiveness of the area of health and physical education.
The focus of preparation of teacher training programme need to be based on the stipulations made in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 and the syllabus of Health and Physical Education prepared for various classes of school education. The selected proposals under the scheme, therefore, should complement on achieving the objectives of Health and Physical Education in schools. The scheme, therefore, is revised keeping the above objectives in view.
The following is the summary of the stipulations made in the National Curriculum Framework 2005 and the Position Paper on Health and Physical Education:
1. The precondition for all development is healthy physical growth of all children. This requires that the basic needs in terms of adequate nutrition, physical exercise and other psycho-social needs are addressed. Participation of all children in free play, informal and formal games, yoga and sports activities is essential for their physical and psycho-social development. The range of abilities as a result of games, sports and yoga will improve stamina, fine and gross motor skills and dexterities, self-awareness and control, and coordination in team games. Simple adaptation of playgrounds, equipment and rules can make activities and games accessible to all children in the school. Children can achieve high levels of excellence in sports, athletics, gymnastics, yoga and performing arts such as dance. When the emphasis shifts from enjoyment to achievement, such training can make demands of discipline and practice that can create stress at this stage. Whereas all students must be involved in health and physical education activities, those who choose to excel in games and sports need to be provided adequate opportunities.
2. This curricular area adopts a holistic definition of health within which physical education and yoga contribute to the physical, social, emotional and mental development of a child.
3. The entire group (Health and Physical Education and yoga) must be taken together as a comprehensive health and physical education curriculum, replacing the fragmentary approach current in schools today. As a core part of the curriculum, time allocated for games and for yoga must not be reduced, or taken away under any circumstances.
4. Recognizing this subject as a core subject, Health and Physical Education must continue to be a compulsory subject from the primary to the secondary stages and as an optional subject at higher secondary stage. However, it needs to be given equal status with other subjects, a status that is not being given at present.
5. In order to transact the curriculum effectively, it is essential to ensure that the minimum essential physical space and equipments are available in every school. Teacher preparation for this area needs well planned and concerted efforts. This subject area consisting of health education, physical education and yoga must be suitably integrated into the elementary and secondary pre-service teacher education courses. The potential of the existing physical education training institutes should be reviewed and utilized adequately. Similarly, their appropriate syllabi and teacher training for transaction of yoga in schools need to be reviewed and reformulated.
6. Yoga could be introduced from the primary level onwards in informal ways, but formal introduction of yogic exercises should begin only from class sixth onwards. All interventions including even health and hygiene education must rely on the practical and experiential dimensions of children’s lives.