Haiku in Health & PE: Mindfulness in Motion

Health & PE are often separated into two different entities in the classroom, regardless of how deeply they intertwine. Physical wellness is improved by physical activity, but can also be improved by hormone/chemical release that comes from positive thoughts, emotions & social interactions. Positive feelings are also cycled through physical movement and enjoyment of movement. It’s important to teach students that physical activity is more than exercise & longevity. The physical dimension of wellness should be taught as a support system of the body AND mind that enables us to achieve our goals and experience true joy.

Creating and practicing a Haiku is an activity that can help your students combine physical & mental/emotional wellness. Why make the effort to combine the two? Teaching students to be physically active because it’s good for them and will help them live longer isn’t always a major source of inspiration–especially for teenagers who are often ruled by their emotions. Current students are deeply focused on mental health as the most important aspect of wellness, downplaying the importance of physical and often less likely to engage in it. Teaching students how to use physical activity to build mental health and create positive feelings will not only entice their sense of here and now but can also help them understand that each benefits the other and the whole self overall. 

Haikus are based on a traditional Japanese poetic form and can be used to capture a feeling or image. The typical pattern is three lines following a structure of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. The last two lines can be one phrase (I often break that rule to create more of a mantra) and make an observation about the topic. We all know meditation is good for relaxing the body and calming the mind and soul, but does it always need to be achieved through stillness? I have often thought that sport & activity is poetry in motion but have never known how to connect the two–until I created a Haiku based on the cathartic senses I received from motion.

Lesson idea.

  1. Have students think of a physical activity that relaxes & soothes them–this may take some practice & experimenting (that could also be part of your lesson!) 
  2. Ask them to create a Haiku following the 3 line, 5-7-5 pattern using words of imagery or other sensation.
  3. Assign/encourage students to practice Mindfulness in Motion by repeating the Haiku in their heads for a specified amount of time (3-5 minutes?).
  4. This can be done seated (or moving) in the classroom as students visualize engaging in the activity or as an at-home, off-site learning activity, as they are doing the activity.
  5. Challenge students to engage in 3-5 minutes of Mindfulness in Motion 3 to 5 times/week.

Here are some examples I created, inspired by an evening in my driveway:


Rolling in circles.

Breeze blowing across my skin.

Rhythm in motion.


Shooting Hoops

Grip, dribble dribble.

Set in stance, flick the wrist and

Swish to satisfy.

The most unexpected benefit I have found in creating the Haiku is that after visualizing and  practicing whether in motion or not, I can recall the soothing sensations experienced while performing the actual activity, and create a sense of calm wherever I am.

 **Note: Check with your creative writing teacher to see if there are other items you can collaborate on. They often encourage writers to use observation of sensation for inspiration!


Kelly McGonigal “The Joy of Movement

Kelly McGonigal Ted Talk: How to Make Stress Your Friend: https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en

How to Write a Haiku: https://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Haiku-Poem

This microblog post was a featured post in  #slowchathealth’s #microblogweek. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Allisha Blanchette, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com

Allisha’s post inspired me so much, I’ve decided to launch a #HealthHaiku competition. Share your health-themed haiku on Twitter using the #HealthHaiku hashtag and you could win a copy of our book of the month.

HAIKU (1).jpg


6 thoughts on “Haiku in Health & PE: Mindfulness in Motion

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