Discover Yoga’s Flexibility in Math Class
It was a stressful school year to say the least! To help you and your students exhale, while learning (or teaching) a thing or two, we have partnered with two of our favorite math educators. Perry High School teachers Ashley Meinke and David Olszewski will introduce you to math yoga. So, grab a yoga mat, some comfortable clothes, a water bottle and let’s celebrate International Day of Yoga by exploring yoga’s flexibility in math class.
Why math yoga, you might be asking? While it started as a bit of a joke at Perry High School in Canton, Ohio, math yoga has become increasingly more popular. Meinke and Olszewski currently use it:
- As a math club activity
- In the classroom to teach functions, transformations and end behavior
- To describe geometry and calculus terminology
- To build upon social and emotional learning and to destress after exams
They have also used it as an activity to celebrate holidays such as Valentine’s Day. All this to say: The sky is the limit with how you can use math yoga with your students.
Unconventional ways of
So, what are their top tips for getting started? First thing’s first: Find some yoga mats. They recommend reaching out to a PE coach at your school or a local community center. You could even apply for a grant that is interested in supporting unconventional ways of exploring math. While you can move desks around in your classroom to make space, they also suggest moving class outside to let students get some fresh air while exploring math concepts through the practice of yoga.
Once you’ve got your mats and identified your space, Meinke and Olszewski recommend arranging students in a circle so that they can see one another. And this way, it doesn’t promote that idea of one person being in charge, you are all in this together. The math teachers and certified yoga instructors also suggest playing some calming music during the session to add a nice, soothing touch.
To build on the social-emotional learning, you could have students write a positive message on a sticky note about one of their classmates and stick it on their mat. They have also asked students to jot down something they want to get rid of on paper, tear it up and put it in a clear glass jar. This is to promote letting things go, which, as you know, can be especially important after a big test.
Favorite poses to
Below are a few of their favorite poses to incorporate movement into math class.
Yoga name: Mountain pose
Math name: Vertical Line
Use the Mountain pose to talk about concepts like vertical lines or asymptotes.
Yoga name: Crescent pose
Math name: Concave down
The Crescent pose helps you explore concavity and, in particular, concave down in calculus.
Yoga name: Plank
Math name: Right triangle
Not only is the Plank good for your abs, but it can be used to introduce trigonometry and the idea of trig ratios like the right triangle.
Feeling stressed? Breathe. Meinke and Olszewski are going to show you how to do all of these exercises and more. Watch the video of the math yoga introduction class they taught at this year’s virtual T3™ International Conference. It includes more tips on how to host your own math yoga class, or you can simply take the class.
About the author: Curtis Brown currently works as the Math Segment manager at Texas Instruments. He taught mathematics and AP® Statistics for several years. Since starting at TI in 2015, he has led many content development projects including the Math in Motion series. He has always found joy in exploring the patterns and logic of mathematics. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @cbmathguy .