The other day in one of my kids yoga classes I was teaching a yoga exercise similar to a Martial Arts punch. For this exercise you hold your body in place and then punch each arm with a powerful “HAAA” breath. Joining in, the daycare teacher joked that this is the only time kids will get to do a punch move at school!
The teacher was joking, but there was more than a grain of truth to it. Many schools and homes have adopted a Zero Tolerance policy to quell violence and level the playing field between boys and girls. But have we gone too far? Have we developed a negative attitude toward boy culture?
After discovering our Yoga Man – Yoga for Boys product, marketing expert Tia Dobi forwarded me a TED Talk that examines boy culture and the growing problems boys are facing in school.
Re-Engage Boys in Learning
The talk by Ali Carr-Chellman: Gaming to Re-Engage Boys in Learning emphasizes the problems for boys these days. Boys are tuning out of school and tuning into what gives them what they like, things like video games. But as Carr-Chellman says, “video games are not the cause they are the symptom.” Consider watching this talk if you’ve got boys:
In the TED Talk Carr-Chellman cites a study that shows the negative implications for boys in school:
- for every 100 girls that are suspended from school, there are 250 boys suspended
- for every 100 girls in special education, there are 217 boys in special education
- for every 100 girls with emotional disturbances, there are 324 boys with emotional disturbances
These are disturbing numbers. One solution that may help is to ease up on Zero Tolerance toward the kinds of play that boys like. Of course that doesn’t mean allowing bullying or violence, but it does mean letting boys be boys.
Do You Understand Boy Culture?
Consider what it means to be proactive with boys. If you’ve never had brothers, sons, or taught boys, you may not know what typical play is like for boys. If two boys are wrestling on the ground, it doesn’t mean they are violent prone or need to see a psychologist. It means that many boys like to wrestle. If a teacher tells them they are wrong or “NOT OKAY” for wrestling at recess, they are insulting boy culture, perhaps without realizing it. Schools support the way girls play and punish the way boys play.
Similarly, if we don’t acknowledge the female dominated culture of yoga, we may be alienating boys without even realizing it. Boys may walk away thinking what they like is wrong. They may walk away thinking yoga is for girls.
Tools to Get Boys Involved
Here are some ideas to help boys fall in love with yoga:
- incorporate tools like partner yoga without micro-managing the poses,
- use props like the Yoga Man – Yoga for Boys pictures, games, and coloring,
- invite male teachers to assist you or guest teach,
- promote Father/Son yoga classes or retreats.
A proactive approach to boys in yoga may help us hear the happy voices of boys exclaiming, “Is that guy doing yoga? Yoga is for boys!”
What do you do in your classes to encourage boys?
“Yoga Man vs The Stressor is so much more than just a yoga guide. The impressive fun filled games teach the children important life tools while learning fun yoga poses. These fun games will help your kids/students get in touch with what stresses them out and how to keep their stress under control.”
Intentional Conscious Parenting.com
Yoga Man product review February 21, 2011
Upcoming Kids Yoga Teacher Training
The Inclusive Yoga Weekend Certificate includes tools that help boys love yoga. You’ll also get lots of information on Yoga for Children with Special Needs. Get more information here.