Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Integrating Yoga into a Comprehensive School Counseling Program: A Qualitative Approach

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Integrating Yoga into a Comprehensive School Counseling Program: A Qualitative Approach

Article excerpt

Over the last century, the school counseling profession has evolved from providing vocational guidance for a few students to the development of a comprehensive school counseling program that meets the academic, career, and social/emotional needs of all students (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2012; Gysbers & Henderson, 2012; Herr & Erford, 2011) . To help school counselors define their roles and functions, in 2003, the American School Counselor Association first published the ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs, now in its third edition (ASCA, 2012) . The ASCA National Model highlights the components of a comprehensive school counseling program and provides school counselors with a framework to connect program goals and objectives to local, state, and national accountability standards. Through data-driven, comprehensive programming, school counselors demonstrate to educational stakeholders how students are different as a result of school counselors' work. Moreover, the framework of the ASCA National Model challenges school counselors to serve as advocates, leaders, and partners in systemic change to provide equitable services to all students (ASCA, 2012). This process allows school counselors to deliver a salient social justice agenda to narrow and eliminate opportunity gaps.

A well-designed comprehensive school counseling program ensures that school counselors work with all students (ASCA, 2012). This concept suggests that most students face normal, age-appropriate challenges, while others experience added challenges that significantly interfere with learning (Dahir & Stone, 2009). To meet the needs of all students, school counselors are often responsible for integrating wellness and social/emotional learning (SEL) into educational curricula. School counselors are familiar with these concepts because wellness promotion is often a part of graduate counselor education programs (Roach & Young, 2007) and both wellness and SEL are current roles and function of a school counselor (American Counseling Association, n.d.). The yoga in schools movement promotes a unique and alternative way that school counselors can promote student wellness initiatives to holistically support the whole child. The purpose of this study was to explore how school counselors integrate yoga into their comprehensive school counseling programs.

Yoga

Originating in India more than 5,000 years ago, yoga is one of the oldest practices of holistic health aimed at developing the mind, body, and spirit (Douglass, 2007; Ehud, An, & Avshalom, 2010; Flynn, 2013, Williamson, 2012). The practice of yoga links postures (asana) with breathing techniques (pranayama) to encourage physical and psychological balance (Butzer, van Over, Noggle, & Khalsa, 2015; Frank, Bose, & Schrobenhauser-Clonan, 2014; Khalsa, Hickey-Schultz, Cohen, Steiner, & Cope, 2012; Noggle, Steiner, Minami, & Khalsa, 2012; Toscano & Clemente, 2008). In yoga, the mind and body are thought of as one unified whole that work in coordination to achieve a steady state of presence and contentment (Rybak & Deuskar, 2010). Extending beyond posture and breath, yoga is thought of as curative, preventative, and a purposeful way of being.

For youth, yoga can serve as an antidote to the stress and hurriedness of modern living that continually places an exorbitant amount of pressure on children (Toscano & Clemente, 2008). Not only do youth experience the steady rise of academic pressure prevalent in our society, they also encounter complex and often traumatic situations such as school shootings, gun violence, sexual violence, mental illness, drugs, divorce, and so on (Busch, 2007). The discipline of yoga can reduce the impact of significant stressors and mitigate trauma by teaching children to relax, self-regulate, and remain present (Butzer et al., 2015; Harper, 2010; Toscano & Clemente, 2008; Williamson, 2012). …

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