Yoga for Exam Stress
How can we use the tool of yoga for exam stress?
Exam season is of course particularly stressful for students, but also for parents and teachers! Even younger siblings can be affected, as they pick up on the stress of other family members and can feel unsettled by this.
If you’re affected by stress during exams, try some yoga & breathing exercises, either individually, or as a family (or a school class) to help calm and focus.
These activities can help in two ways:
- yoga postures during revision, act as a movement break, helping you feel more energised and grounded
- breathing exercises immediately before or even during an exam help to calm and clear your mind
Using yoga during revision
Research shows that it is important to keep active and take regular movement breaks while revising.
Having relaxed muscles in turn helps to relax the mind and therefore simple yoga stretches are perfect for a movement break. Forward bends help to calm, and inversions (such as downward dog) send fresh blood supply to the brain, all of which help the thought process. Neck rolls, wrist rotations and twists (such as swaying tree pose & seahorse) all help to counteract the stiffness caused by sitting for long periods.
Yoga for exam stress
Many yoga poses stimulate the proprioceptive sense, which can help to relieve anxiety and help a child reach and maintain the optimum level of alertness for learning by improving concentration and focus. The following poses all activate the proprioceptive sense and are therefore perfect for alleviating exam stress and supporting revision.
4 yoga poses to support revision
The power of the breath
The breath is important as a way of regulating emotions. During exam season, proper breathing will be the most important way to help calm nerves and focus the mind.
Breathing properly is the most important thing we can do to offset stress. And its simple to learn and apply. Breathing completely (filling the WHOLE of the lungs and expelling ALL of the air), is known as diaphragmatic breathing. This slows the heart rate, brings the blood pressure down, clears the mind and relaxes the muscles.
How to use the breath to beat exam stress:
See our post on belly breathing for more information on why this can help with anxiety.
- Lie or sit, and close your eyes if you can.
- Breathe through your nose (with your mouth shut) and bring your focus to the space between your nostrils. Feel the coolness of the air coming in, and the warmth of the air coming out. This will help you push other thoughts out of your mind and help to still the mind.
- Now focus on breathing from the diaphragm. Relax your tummy and put your right hand on your belly button and left hand on your heart.
Imagine you are blowing up a balloon inside your tummy. The hand on your heart should stay still.
- Take 3-5 breaths.
Breathing ideas for young children:
With young children, who may be worried about SATs, try these suggestions to help them to breathe properly:
- Place an object (like a duck) on their abdomen. Then see if the duck can swim up and down.
- Blow bubbles together
- Blow feathers with long slow breaths to make them float (see our feather blog post for the full benefits of this activity)
- Buzzing bee breath is great for calming the whole family, or class together
Finally, try simply sitting and listening to the breath. See if you can breathe out to a count of five. Slowing the breath slows the mind and then coherent thoughts can form.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful when using yoga for exam stress and revision.
Good luck and remember that exams cannot test your courage, kindness, imagination, resilience, friendship or integrity.
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