In recent years, developments in neuroscience and psychology have indicated a strong correlation between the practice of yoga and mindfulness and improvements in individual well-being. As recently as November 2014, the Public Health England briefing document “The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment” pointed to a clear connection between positive well-being and educational attainment in schools. In addition to this, the new Ofsted framework includes emotional literacy as part of the definition of an outstanding lesson.
Meanwhile, in a growing number of school contexts, pupils and teachers are experiencing for themselves how the benefits of the practice of yoga and the stillness it can bring, are transforming their academic, social and spiritual well-being.
There appear, then, to be connections between the diverse fields of neuroscience, psychology, education and yoga that it would be fruitful to explore. The INSTILL conference aims to do this by bringing together experts from these diverse areas to explore the potential connections and synergies between the fields.
The conference will place special emphasis on the views of young people in relation to these themes. Prior to the conference, we will be collecting the views of young people who do yoga in relation to their experience of the practice and how it affects their experience of school. These will be submitted to the conference website as videos or text messages, and a selection will presented in a panel on current experiences of yoga in schools.
Audience involvement will also play an important part in the conference. In addition to Q and A after each presentation, the audience will be invited to share their reactions. During each break in the conference they will be invited to take time to discuss their views on three questions relating to the impact of yoga on teens, ways of increasing this impact and possible future roles for yoga in education. They will be invited to post responses to Twitter and to the conference website and these will be presented and discussed in the final session of the conference. They will also be incorporated into a report on the conference, available free to all particpants that will draw together the threads of discussion.
Sir Anthony Seldon is a leading British schoolmaster and a contemporary historian, commentator and political author. He is Master of Wellington College, Britain’s top co- educational independent boarding school. He is author or editor of over 40 books on contemporary history, politics and education, was the co-founder and first director of the Centre for Contemporary British History, is honorary historical adviser to 10 Downing Street, and was co-founder of Action for Happiness with Lord Layard and Geoff Mulgan. He has practiced mediation and Yoga since 1978, and has attended Sivananda ashram retreats in India, the US and the UK. He pioneered ‘happiness’ lessons which began at Wellington College in 2006.
Talk about: Silence that Unites
Charlotta Martinus is a mother of two teenage boys. After work as a language teacher, she spent ten years working for the BBC as a documentary producer before becoming a Senior Yoga Teacher. She has worked teaching yoga to teenagers for ten years, and is a specialist in teen yoga. She currently runs a teen yoga teacher training course in the UK, France, UAE, Spain and the Bahamas. She also collaborates with the University of Leeds on research into the benefits of yoga for young people and is a yoga therapist for mental health within the NHS. She is a regular contributor to the BBC and is currently finishing a book about teens and yoga.
Talk about: The importance of doing nothing: Yoga as a way to heightened wellbeing and enhanced learning
Dr Lucy Clarke is a mother of two and works as a Clinical Psychologist and yoga therapist for children and young people of all ages and abilities. She has a special interest in mental health and neurodevelopmental disorders and holdsan Msc in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities from Kings College, London. Currently, Lucy is the lead consultant on delivering the‘Get Ready to Learn’ classroom based Yoga Therapy programme in Gloucestershire. Additionally, she offers Yoga and Mindfulness to children and young people with additional needs and their families in the community and within statutory services. She designs, develops and delivers teacher training programmes for professionals, parents and carers such as the Yoga and Mindfulness for Child and Adolescent Mental Health’ teacher training course with Dr Lana Jackson. She is committed to disseminating and reviewing the evidence base for mind- body practices in young people and making yoga available and accessible to all.
Talk about: Paying attention peacefully: using yoga to support autistic children at school
Vishwam J. Heckert, PhD began practising yoga in the year 2000. Starting with the aim of learning to care for his body, he was surprised to discover his yoga practice was transforming the flow of his writing, improving his relationships with others and easing his emotions. In 2011 he decided to train to teach in order to share the benefits with others. Vishwam has run workshops in cities and towns around the UK as well as teaching regular weekly classes. He currently lives in Matlock, Derbyshire where he also offers spiritual counselling based on the interfaith teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda and Integral Yoga.
Talk about: I’ll meet you there: yoga and the power of listening
Dr. Sat Bhir Khalsa PhD has been fully engaged in basic and clinical research on the effectiveness of yoga and meditation practices in improving physical and psychological health since 2001. He has also practiced a yoga lifestyle since 1973 and is a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor. He is the Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute and an Assistant
Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He has conducted clinical research trials evaluating yoga treatments for insomnia, addiction, back pain, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic stress and a yoga program in public schools to determine benefits in mental health in adolescents. Dr. Khalsa actively works with the International Association of Yoga Therapists to promote research on yoga therapy and collaborates with yoga researchers internationally. For the past 8 years he has also been teaching an elective course at Harvard Medical School in Mind-Body Medicine and is the author of the Harvard Medical School ebook ‘Your Brain on Yoga’.
Talk about: Yoga for Health, Well-Being and Learning: The Science and the Research Evidence
Dr Vaishnavee Madden is a public health doctor, currently working on a programme to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Lambeth and Southwark. She qualified in Medicine from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and worked as a hospital doctor in the NHS, before specialising in public health. She has been practicing yoga for over a decade, and is a qualified yoga teacher, with a particular interest in working with adolescents.