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ISH: A home away from home

Yin Yoga Mindfulness in ISH

At the International School of Hamburg we are passionate about supporting our community not just in academic learning, but also emotional wellbeing and social success too.  

Our Mission Statement says, “As an international community of learners we nurture inquiring minds, compassionate hearts and balanced lives.”

As part of our whole school mission, we are committed to ensuring our students, staff and parents are supported. One of the ways we are doing this is by incorporating mindfulness and yin yoga practice into our school community.

What is Mindfulness? 

Mindfulness was introduced to western science in 1979 and is now recognised as an important practice which is used in a variety of everyday settings including large corporations, the military, psychology services and schools.

Mindfulness is a conscious effort to pay attention to the present moment and to not judge what is happening, but accepting the moment as it is without trying to change it.

Many scientific studies have shown the benefits of mindfulness practice in different situations and have found that it can help with a wide range of conditions, from physical illness and pain to anxiety and stress.

In schools, mindfulness can support students to regulate their emotions, increase focus and concentration and to develop deeper understanding of their emotional states and the states of others.

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is a specific type of yoga, which has been found to restore connective tissue to support healthy joints, ligaments and tendons.  Yin yoga helps practitioners to keep full mobility and range of motion in the body. 

Yin yoga involves staying in specific poses for longer than in other yoga practices. This activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, our ‘rest and digest’ response, and yin yoga has been found to reduce stress and anxiety and calm and balance the brain and body, as well as supporting physical health.

The parasympathetic nervous system is part of the Autonomic Nervous System, a network of nerves that regulate vital organs and some muscles in the body. Two parts of this are the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for our survival response (fight, flight, freeze) and the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to slow down heart rate, lower blood pressure and aid digestion. 

In today’s busy and stressful world, our sympathetic nervous system is often activated, which can cause a lot of other health problems.  Yin yoga and mindfulness both help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to support wellbeing and a healthy mind and body.

The practices of mindfulness and yin yoga link deeply with our mission statement of inquiring minds, balanced lives and compassionate hearts because both mindfulness and yin yoga cultivate a deeper connection to all of these.

Staff at the International School of Hamburg have completed a variety of training courses in order to effectively practice mindfulness and yin yoga with our school community. Trained staff join classes for lessons and morning meetings in grade levels across the school to support their wellbeing. 

We also offer regular classes for staff to help support them with their wellbeing and stress management. Once the campus is fully open again, we plan to expand these lessons to our parent community.

Student Reflections

Mindfulness:

  • "It calms me down. It makes me forget bad things."

  • "The best thing I like about mindfulness is that it relaxes my brain. After doing it it clears my mind."

  • "I think it is nice and when I feel angry or sad I use it and then I feel better."

  • "After doing mindfulness I feel calm, peaceful like after running around sometimes."

  • "I like how you might be stressed or angry and then when you have done mindfulness you just calm down. I feel grateful and happy afterwards."

Yin Yoga:

  • "I like yin yoga best of all is I breathe. I have my time and don't want anybody to speak with me."

  • "My body is calm after yin yoga. I noticed that in my mind all of my thoughts disappear."

  • "I noticed my body was all relaxed and stretched. I noticed that my mind was ready to learn because it was fresh with new thoughts."

  • "Yin yoga refreshes my mind so I can work without being distracted."

  • The best thing I like about yin yoga is "putting a fake brick under my back to stretch it."

  • "I like how it calms me right down and I let go of all of my fears."

  • "It helps my body calm down and makes my mind clear. I feel really happy after I do it!"

  • "When I have pains, yin yoga helps me get the pains away."