The practice of yoga originated in ancient India but has become extremely popular in western culture due to its unmatched health benefits and critical philosophical teachings to guide human society. Yoga encompasses a holistic approach to wellness and is recommended for individuals of all ages, backgrounds, religions, and abilities. Students in educational institutions can benefit from yoga whether they engage in the practice as a fun activity or as part of their school curricula. Over time, practicing yoga can increase their energy, self-esteem, attention plan, and flexibility. Not to mention, yoga gives students a break from their busy schedules and complicated lifestyle, thus allowing them to achieve a renewed appreciation of life and their environment. Thus, the following essay discusses the practical application of yogic philosophies in the classroom based on the use of the yoga sutra in modern educational settings. The incorporation of yoga philosophies in classes offers unique and unmatched benefits compared to any other subject in the curricula.
The Concept of Yoga Sutra and its Relevance in Modern-Day Classrooms
The yoga sutras refer to a collection of 196 verses written by Patanjali to guide self-realization and increased wisdom. These texts were written roughly around 400 C.E. and are considered a framework for yogi philosophies. Since their inscription, they have guided yoga practices, allowing them to become a centerpiece of yoga until today. Generally, the sutras describe the path and mean towards the realization of individuals’ essence as humans (Devi et al. 14). In other words, the sutras align people’s thoughts and emotions with the environment, allowing them to become one with nature. The true definition of yoga can only be uncovered when practiced routinely and applied to everyday life. Therefore, yoga sutras guide those engaging in the practice toward refining their minds so that they can reach the highest possible state of focus and concentration. Nevertheless, the focus is only a means to an end since it provides one with a clearer perception of themselves and the ability to know more about their nature, resulting in independence from stress and suffering.
The ultimate purpose of the yoga sutras is to help people battle stress, fear, and anxiety by teaching them how to move beyond their minds and access serenity, peace, and stillness, free of any thoughts. According to Lin et al., the true nature of individuals is overshadowed by the brain’s activity in response to factors in the environment (p 403). Thus, yoga allows one to settle their mind into silence and attain a state unbounded by consciousness. Although there are more than 191 verses in the yoga sutra, the most widely recognized verses comprise only 31 verses, known as the eight limbs of the sutra. The limbs include Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. These branches provide a practical guide toward living with harmony in society. In addition, they teach individuals to be kind, courteous, ethical, and compassionate. Moreover, the limbs promote mind-full focus and self-study (Quinn et al. 6). Hence, they have several practical applications in classrooms as they allow students to reach the epitome of their understanding and achieve better results in their academics and other sectors of life.
Applying the Eight Limbs of Yoga Sutra in Classrooms
The eight limbs profiled in the yoga sutra inform students that there is more to yoga than asana, which focuses on enhancing flexibility and physical strength. Out of the eight branches, two train personal reflections, one informs students of how to control their breath, four verses focus on meditation, and the last one addresses physical movement (Devi et al. 18). As a result, teachers are advised to encourage students to incorporate these practices into their lives to maximize social, interpersonal, and academic achievements.
Most students have a high temperament because of the challenges they experience in their environment and the pressure of excelling. Therefore, they might conflict with each other occasionally and disagree with their teachers. Consequently, emotional instability can result in students developing negative attitudes towards class and missing lessons. However, yoga sutra philosophies can be used to reduce violence in classrooms, encourage integrity amongst students, and enhance their self-control (Quinn et al. 8). Yama is all about non-violence, non-covetousness, always telling the truth and self-control. Therefore, practicing Yama can help assist students in developing positive affirmations, speak to each other with kindness, and control themselves against negative behaviors like stealing, greed, and desire for material items.
On most occasions, students fail to achieve their goals because of focusing on issues that do not bear fruit or are irrelevant to their advancement. Therefore, yoga philosophies can help them clear out their minds and center their attention on development. Practicing Niyama equips students with the skills to uphold the purity of the body, mind, and soul. It also advocates for satisfaction and contentment, self-discipline, self-study and introspection, and faith in a higher power (Devi et al. 19). Therefore, engaging students in Niyama teaches them to refrain from talking ill about each other, be satisfied with what they have, maintain self-discipline towards initiatives, and know their true nature so that they can become anything they desire. In addition, students’ belief in a higher power can act as a source of motivation during tough times. Thus, guiding students in Niyama exercises can help them live a pure and balanced life full of satisfaction.
Students sit down for extended periods, forcing them to alter their posture from time to time. However, sitting posture is one of the most difficult skills to master because of individuals’ anatomy and levels of flexibility. However, physical asanas can assist students to find the best sitting postures and improve their blood circulation, digestion, and respiration in the process (Quinn et al. 10). In addition, asana exercises train students on how to be calm, which is critical for their concentration and will toward improvement. Moreover, trying out different poses allows students to find one that works for them. In turn, they will learn how to make up their poses when fatigued and achieve equilibrium. Thus, equipping students with the skills of practicing asana exercises can help them develop a healthy mind and body.
Breathing is a fundamental life skill that reflects on individuals’ wellness, mental health, and emotional stability. Quinn et al. suggest that appropriate breathing practices assist individuals in living in the moment and limit anxiety, stress, and depression (p 6). As a result, teaching students how to breathe can improve their ability to manage their emotions, relax when faced with pressure, and improve their life quality. Good breathing techniques also affect posture and movement, which is vital for the correct functioning of body organs and systems (Lin et al. 403). In addition, inhaling and exhaling correctly can facilitate peace of mind, especially in uncomfortable environments. Therefore, exposing students to pranayama, which focuses on the art of breathing, can help them master the technique and learn to deal with issues cautiously.
Classroom environments are filled with disturbances that overload students’ senses and prevent them from focusing on their class materials. For example, students are exposed to sounds from external environments, movement from one lesson to another, and technological devices that interfere with their attention. Moreover, other students can become a distraction if they make noise or act inappropriately. Thus, training students on how to control their senses using pratyahara yoga exercises can help them block out any intrusions that might come in the way of their work and progress (Devi et al. 20). In addition; pratyahara increases students’ awareness and mindfulness as it enlightens them on how to live in the moment and enhances their innovation and creativity. Hence, controlling senses can come in handy in complex classroom settings where students engage with various components.
The modern world is characterized by several limitations that hinder students from putting all their efforts into their studies and things that are dear to them. On the other hand, some students do not believe in their abilities due to issues like limited resources, poor social skills, and a lack of opportunity. However, Dharana is an art that allows students to engage and control their minds, which is critical for positive development (Quinn et al. 16). Therefore, training students using the concepts of Dharana can help them boost their mental abilities and focus on the prize ahead. The technique achieves the desired results by allowing students to maximize their concentration. Thus, they develop the strength to work toward their dreams and the belief that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
Dhyana refers to the art of meditation, involving deep and uninterrupted focus for prolonged periods. Meditation has several benefits for the human mind, body, and spirit as it reinforces the human connection with nature. Therefore, it can help students increase their attention span since it trains them to concentrate on objects for extended periods. In addition, meditation facilitates valuing one’s self and healing from the inside, which is critical self-care and self-love (Lin et al. 403). As a result, students learn to appreciate their bodies and refrain from destructive habits like alcohol and drug abuse.
Samadhi is the ultimate state all yoga beginners aim for, thought to be the highest level of spiritual consciousness. Individuals who attain samadhi gain total control of their emotions, thoughts, and movements, allowing them to become one with nature. Nevertheless, one must successfully learn how to deal with all internal and external factors that might interfere with their contemplation. Devi et al. suggest that a person who reaches samadhi is free from anger, desire, and emotions (p 19). The state is characterized by joyful calmness, acuity, alertness, and beatitude. Thus, encouraging students to work their way through to samadhi can increase their motivation and willpower to achieve.
Yoga philosophies usher people into a realm of consciousness and understanding that is different from any other. Although the author of the sutras is primarily concerned with refining the mind and attaining focus, practicing these verses routinely has unmatched rewards since they allow people to feel better every day. Subsequently, yoga exercises have several applications in modern classroom settings because they differ from the content offered in other school curricula. Moreover, practicing the sutras offers comprehensive improvements since they tackle issues of non-violence, self-care, self-control, integrity, truthfulness, collaboration, and focus. Therefore, yoga sutras can help students engage with the critical components of their lives, avoid unnecessary distractions, and focus on their studies.
Devi, Ranjina, and Dr. Rathore. “Implementation of Yoga in Education as a Strategy for Enhancing Students Educational Achievements.” International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research (2021).
Lin, Jing, and Yishin Khoo. “Knowing Our True Self and Transforming Suffering toward Peace and Love: Embodying the Wisdom of the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra.” Religions 13.5 (2022): 403.
Quinn, Brandy P., and Callie Batts Maddox. “The body doesn’t lie: yoga and embodiment in the higher education classroom.” Teaching in Higher Education (2022): 1-17.