All New York City Public Schools Will Soon Be Required to Offer Mindful Breathing Practices Every School Day
Announcement Will Make Department of Education Only Public School System Nationwide With Yoga Alliance-Approved School-Based Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Training Curriculum
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks, and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan on Tuesday, June 27, announced that all New York City public schools — from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 — will soon be required to facilitate two-to-five minutes of mindful breathing practices in schools every day. The announcement aims to increase physical and mental health, enhance social-emotional learning, and improve New York City public schools’ culture. As part of this initiative, the city has already begun a rollout of a citywide professional development program for educators in mindful breathing practices.
Yoga and mindfulness integration into school communities addresses and supports significant social and emotional needs of the youngest New Yorkers. Studies show that mindful breathing practices support students’ ability to feel secure and receptive while learning — leaving positive impacts from the integration of these practices into the school experience.
“We live in a time of toxic social media communities, constant news flashes, and unfiltered alerts, all leaving a toll on the mental health of our students. But, today, it is time for our students to calm their nervous systems down,” said Mayor Adams. “Mindful breathing can be done by anyone, anywhere, and anytime. We are proud to announce another promise delivered on from our State of the City speech earlier this year that will soon engage all students in mindful breathing practices. Mindful breathing is another way we are teaching our young people healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”
“The mental wellbeing of our students is a top priority for New York City public schools. These are the future leaders of tomorrow, and it’s important that our young people have a robust tool belt of practices to guide them inside and outside the classroom,” said DOE Chancellor Banks. “I’m thrilled that we’re enabling our educators to support our kids in this way, and I look forward to continuing to partner with our school leaders and partners across the city in furthering this essential work.”
“We all have a responsibility to support the well-being of young people,” said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Vasan. “Incorporating mindfulness into the school day — where they spend the majority of their time — will benefit our young people in their daily lives and for the future, teaching them healthy coping skills which will help them navigate the unpredictable journey of life. I’m proud to work with an administration dedicated to supporting mental health and wellbeing, especially of our children, and commend New York City public schools on this initiative.”
The DOE’s Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program is the first Yoga Alliance-approved yoga and mindfulness program in a public school system nationwide. Yoga Alliance is the nation’s largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. The Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program is building the capacity of school staff to integrate yoga and mindfulness into DOE public schools to engage students, teachers, and staff.
In March 2023, in partnership with the Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program, DOE began to roll out a professional development program to train educators and other school staff in the implementation of mindfulness breathing practices and tools that can be used in the classroom to support the social and emotional needs of students and the wellness of their entire school community. The professional development sessions are virtual and available to all staff. Educators also have access to online resources to aid in facilitating these practices. In order to ensure schools are free to implement this work in the ways that best suit their school community, school leaders will be empowered to implement this initiative in individualized ways, but all New York City public schools will soon be required to offer all students mindful breathing practices in school every day.
In December 2019, then Brooklyn Borough President Adams’ Office funded the first cohort of 30 DOE employees to graduate and become certified as yoga and mindfulness instructors as part of the Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program.