be I’ve en teaching Yoga in the Chicago Public School System for the past ten years. I have taught Yoga, kindergarten through twelfth grades, but now I focus more on kindergarten through eighth grades. Stress is inescapable. Most kids are nearly drowning in it. Stress for American CPS school kids is a path to degenerative diseases. Nature designed our bodies for constant action; walking, bending, climbing and running. Our muscles become rigid when we do not use them. Kids can also be lazy. They don’t want to move their bodies. They often have very limited balance and flexibility. The students’ muscles are not developing properly. Many kids cannot reach down and touch their toes, Many kids in CPS and charter schools have no gym classes. Some charter schools have no physical buildings for gym classes at all. There are kids who get only one or two 30-minute gym classes a week or none at all. Many kids suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because of all the gun violence in their neighborhoods such as Englewood, Austin and Lawndale. This is another reason why they cannot exercise outside. Also, in May and June at the end of the school year, the children stay inside fearing this gun violence and again, cannot exercise. Some of the warning signals that kids are overloaded with stress include emotional and behavioral responses such overeating and inappropriate displays of anger. In addition, impatience, loss of appetite, high levels of anxiety, inability to relax and retaining chronic headaches and neck muscle spasms. They engage in heavy TV watching and Xbox playing and spend hours on tablets and smartphones. In this age, kids are spending 8 to 10 hours a day on their digital devices and not experiencing other important areas in life such as exercising.

Doctors estimate that stress accounts for two-thirds of all visits to the family physician or pediatrician, Children’s diets are full of processed food including fried and non-nutritious empty calorie foods including sugar, starches, and fat. These foods contain unhealthy saturated and hydrogenated fats as well. Americans have been duped into believing that we can continue to eat whatever we want with no consequences. Kids don’t stop and think about what they eat and are vulnerable to the advertisements they see for snacks and sweets. Eating disproportionate amounts of this junk food, they wind up undernourished, I say our food is our medicine. Many children are following the junk food path to degenerative diseases. We need better prevention. A healthy mind has to connect to a healthy body, Right now America is losing the battle! I encourage more principals, teachers, and parents to be open to teaching Yoga in order to help children manage their stress. The kids are our future. We need to educate them on good nutrition and to exercise regularly. Yoga and Tai Chi exercise both addresses the problems of stress, I am a Yogi practitioner who has given his life to helping others using Yoga and Tai Chi exercises to improve their health. May God continue to be the light that shines in our hearts and souls to help others to become enlightened about diet and exercise. Remember that your body is the temple of God. Determine to keep it strong and healthy.