Reading, writing, arithmetic. Throw in a little downward dog and some students at Lake Middle School in Woodbury say they have a recipe for success.
A new after-school yoga club is helping the students build physical strength and transition into their teenage years, which often come with more responsibility, pressure and stress.
“After a long day of school, I can let everything go and just relax,” said sixth-grader Natalie Villanueva. “I’m able to sleep better at night and concentrate better on my homework.”
Sixth-grade counselor Emily Frankfurth May, also a certified yoga instructor, started the club this fall to give the teenagers a healthy way to deal with the challenges they face.
“Many teens feel pressure from themselves, parents, families and teachers to achieve high standards academically,” Frankfurth May said. “They’re navigating the discovery of who they are and who they want to become, and often dealing with friendship and relationship issues.”
Frankfurth May believes that the earlier kids learn how to handle their stress, the better. She hopes her students will use breathing and relaxation techniques instead of drugs and alcohol to navigate their teenage and young adult years.
The club, which has about 20 members so far, meets after school once a week. While some of the students admitted they signed up for yoga because they heard it would help them with dance or soccer, they’re discovering that their favorite poses — child’s pose and savasana — are the relaxing ones.
After three months of stretching, bending and twisting, eighth-grader Bretta Nienow said she’s come to rely on yoga to deal with the stresses of being a teen.
“When I study for my tests, I’m not as anxious.”