It’s beginning to look like meditation instead of detention is the most effective way to address student anxiety, tardiness, and disruptions. Schools across the United States have begun experimenting with replacing detention with mindfulness practices, and even yoga classes. While it may seem a bit unorthodox, the results speak for themselves.

Nobody likes detention. We all know it doesn’t actually improve the behavior of students who get put in it. Thankfully, an increasing number of schools are looking at addressing the root causes of infractions.

Instead of punishment, rehabilitation is the strategy being used. Mindfulness and yoga help students to have a greater sense of inner peace and experience more balanced emotions.

Over the past two decades, there has been a wealth of scientific studies conducted looking into mindfulness practices. What was discovered was fascinating. It turns out, relaxing the mind and body, while focusing your attention on the present moment, brings about numerous benefits. Everything from reducing anxiety and distractions to improving cognitive abilities. It seems mindfulness actually blends seamlessly into schools.

Recently, Yellow Springs High School and McKinney Middle School located in Yellow Springs, OH have shared their incredible success. They introduced a mindfulness practice to their students as something to replace detention, which was not working to prevent school infractions.

How It Works

Each Monday, students get together for 30 minutes after all their classes are over. They sit down on blankets in classroom, close their eyes, and release anxiety, stress, and the need to use fidget spinners. By becoming present, they increase their self-awareness, which can lead to realizations about themselves, or simply instill some inner calm within them.

Each Wednesday, students from the middle school and high school gather at their communal library and take a simple yoga class. The principal of Yellow Springs High School, Jack Hatert, as well as Cameron McKoy, who is the vice principal, believe this disciplinary approach is much more effective than punishments like detention.

Students Find Solace in the Mindfulness Sessions

Sure, the school administration says it’s helping, but what do the students actually have to say about it? Isabella Beiring is a 9th grader who goes to both the mindfulness and yoga sessions. She has found that doing yoga, “can help with stress and anxiety.” She also enjoys learning more about these two ancient wellness practices.

Other students, like 8th grader Foster Shirkey simply say that it helps them relax.

With the high demands from school curriculums these days, as well as the fast-paced technological culture kids are jacked into, its no wonder mindfulness and yoga are becoming popular in schools.

Part of a Larger Movement

Yellow Springs didn’t integrate mindfulness and yoga randomly. In fact, there is a statewide educational initiative in Ohio called Each Child, Our Future. This plan is promoting the use of mindfulness and other tools to address the major issue of mental health. Students and adults across the board are grappling with depression and anxiety at levels never seen before. Stress and depression are at an all-time high. This new approach takes from practices utilized for thousands of years.

As of 2015, nearly 1,000 schools were offering yoga classes, according to the National Institute of Health. Federal data shows that the percentage of children practicing yoga has risen from just 2.3% in 2007 to 8.4% in 2017, and likely higher today. This comes out to around 5 million children taking part in this mind-body practice.

Schools like Yellow Springs are seeing rehabilitation over punishment is a win-win, which indicates more schools will follow in its footsteps.