TAKE 5 is a research-based teacher certification program aimed at bringing yoga principles to pockets of society that need them most, such as schools and foster care systems. Acting on its mission “to address and manage behavior issues that lead to childhood obesity, stress, self-abuse, bullying, and violent behavior of all kinds,” the program is designed to be easy to learn and to complement any behavior modification systems already in place. The heart of the program is simple: teach kids to project, rather than suppress, their emotions, and teach them to express these emotions in healthy and efficient ways.
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The program is divided into five sections: breathing practices, exercise and movement, drawing and journaling, concentration and relaxation, and talk or touch. Simple sentence starters such as "I feel safe when...," "I am happiest when...," and "I wish...," combined with child-friendly asana practices, direct students to explore their emotions and bridge the mind-body gap.
The program’s emphasis is awareness of body, mind and internal conflict. Respect for personal space, and high-level concentration practices to enhance self control (reactions/resolutions) are taught and used daily. Learning that we are powerful, not powerless has a major impact on focus, academics and nonviolent behavior. TAKE 5 is also a way of leading by example. Allowing educators, parents, and siblings to say, “I need to TAKE 5 because I’m about to react poorly”, connects us all as humans, neither “good” nor “bad”.
TAKE 5's simple methods were developed to be implemented as needed throughout the day. Whenever a child or adult feels overwhelmed, the cue is to cross the hands into a T and then spread the fingers of one hand wide, signaling it's time to take five minutes, or even 30 seconds, to regroup and find focus. Adults are also instructed to lead by example, taking five whenever they need space to pause and reflect.