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 today 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. Today’s 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.
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.