Educators are turning yoga into a vehicle for school and community change

After a tumultuous few years teaching during a pandemic, some educators are embarking on a unique approach to social and emotional learning (SEL) training this summer: They’re pursuing a virtual wellness, SEL, and yoga training course.

Graduates of Breathe For Change’s 200-hour program will be certified to teach inclusive yoga classes to both adults and young people and lead SEL and wellness experiences in their schools, districts, and organizations.

“Our whole approach is a community-wide wellness approach–the home-school connection matters deeply,” said Dr. Ilana Nankin, Breathe For Change’s founder and CEO.

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The certification program is designed specifically for educators who can use their SEL and yoga education for teacher well-being and student SEL.

Educators were stressed, overwhelmed, and overworked before the pandemic escalated things, said Nankin, a former PreK teacher, who focused on this topic in her dissertation. When Nankin used her research and teaching experiences to create Breathe For Change in 2015, educators who participated in the program saw transformations in their students, from an SEL perspective, but also from an academic perspective.

It reveals “how powerful SEL and wellness practices can be for students’ lives, in school and in an educational context,” she said. “Then, as educators, how do we utilize wellness, SEL, yoga, and mindfulness as vehicles for healing and social change across our whole community?”

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