Sun salutations and social skills

Two yoga instructors, Kathy Flaminio, a Minneapolis Public School social worker, and Julie Hurtubise, a Minneapolis occupational therapist, have joined forces to bring yoga into Jefferson Elementary School in Minneapolis.

Jefferson is the site of a 12-month research project, using the Yoga Calm curriculum created by Jim and Lynea Gillen of Portland Ore., which is supposed to measure the benefits of using yoga techniques in the classroom.

“We really wanted to bring in the notion of teaching the students pro-social behaviors and the ability to kind of focus on their inner world versus just the curriculum,” says Hurtubise. “The educational system usually focuses on memorizing facts in the outer world and we wanted to tie them together, and Yoga Calm does just that.”

The two women say that the curriculum is integrative and very focused on teaching five principles of stillness, listening, grounding, strength, and community.

Principal Reinaldo Aponte distributed permission slips at the beginning of the year for the students’ participation, and the program is in line with the federal wellness mandate.

The results of the project will be available after all the data has been analyzed after the project’s completion at the end of the year. So far, the women are pleased with the progress.

“We’re seeing lots of success. We’ve trained over 500 people; [Yoga Calm] is in 10 states,” says Flaminio. “We’re just starting. I think this is going to really grow because we hope to bring it to other schools and prove the value of it to schools across the country.”