Eco-arts Education: Developing a Connection with the Natural World through Yoga and Mindfulness
Master of Education
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This research studies how yoga and mindfulness, in an outdoor setting, helps elementary students connect to and understand the natural world. The four interrelated spheres of holistic development created as the conceptual framework for this research were based on Sauvé’s (2009) framework, and focus on student wellbeing, yoga and mindfulness, forming community, and understanding the natural world. This research borrowed from narrative inquiry, and artsinformed research practices (both qualitative methodologies), focusing on student discussions, journaling, drawing, and a clay creation to inform the research. Through their journey in a program called Snowga (yoga in the snow), four students learned about mindfulness and living in the present moment through yoga postures and meditations over an eight-week period (one-hour session each week). This thesis describes the positive changes observed through my reflective journaling (i.e. expressing care for the natural world; expressing a sense of belonging and understanding of the natural world; showing that they feel a connection to the more than human world and to understanding it at a deeper level) that occurred in student understanding and growth of the natural world as they explored self, community, and the natural world through yoga, mindfulness, and the creation and discussion of their journals and artwork. Through my research, I hope to engender awareness of the efficacy of mindfulness and yoga practices in an outdoor setting, and advocate for these practices to become a part of everyday class time in an effort to move students outside and build a connection to the natural world.