Yoga in Education: Knocking On Heaven’s Door

In the last several years, researchers have been delving into the importance of movement for our children’s well-being, with particular attention being paid to the ever-disappearing recess. I know that at the elementary school I spent the last few years at, recess was limited to about 20 minutes each day, with an additional 45 minute PE twice a week. My sister, an elementary student at a private school, has a similar recess situation. When I think of my childhood – 30 plus minutes of recess daily, plus a daily PE, part of me is definitely appalled!

Some of the most interesting support for recess that I’ve read has come from Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists – professionals who, like me, are deeply invested in children’s development and the underlying skills that precede so many of our expectations for them. I once read an article by an OT pleading for students to get more free play – swinging, spinning, jumping – because of the amazing benefits these movements have on their coordination, focus, sensory integration, and more.

Despite the research and the suggestions from professionals, many students are still inhibited by a lack of free play. And even those who are blessed with it, may need more than that half an hour block can provide! The other day, as I was doing my semi-daily yoga routine, I was encouraged to engage in a little routine called Knocking on Heaven’s Door. (2:30)

I’ve done this move many times. Always, we’re reminded that it’s okay to let go. It’s okay to have fun. It’s okay to feel a bit silly. Always, also, I feel better afterwards. As I was swinging my hands around, slapping my legs, this go round, I thought about kids and I thought about movement breaks and I thought, “This, THIS, would be a great little intermission for those days when they just need a little bit.”

As I considered the research behind activities such as swinging and spinning, I realized that Knocking on Heaven’s Door must provide some of the same benefits – improved circulation and blood flow, sensory integration, strengthening the vestibular system. And all you need is a few square feet per child, maybe some fun music, and a lighthearted mood that encourages kids to shake out those sillies – in a slightly more controlled way.

So, if you’re in a bad way, I encourage you to take a break and try a little KOHD this week. If your class seems like they need a little movement and going outside isn’t an option, I think this would be a great alternative! Turn on some music, turn off your inhibitions, and life the corner of those mouths for a bit – it can’t hurt!

1 Comment

  1. Cherish Morrison

    Just now stumbling on your blog <3 Love it! Makes me wish you lived closer so we could chat more often :'(

    I definitely agree with you on this one – and the research. On days it's too hot/cold/wet to go outside to burn Hadassah's energy, another homeschooling mom shared GoNoodle with me on Youtube. Apparently schools use it too for kiddos to help burn energy. Heard of it? We just used it this afternoon since there was a heat advisory!


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