Yoga in School

Youth Programs: Up And Running

Stop for a moment and picture yourself in middle school…Are you wincing?

If you’re like most people, chances are you weren’t at your most calm, collected and confident. It’s a challenging time. Recently, studies have confirmed that social media usage increases students’ stress and anxiety levels, making it tougher than ever to focus and stay present.

This is why PYR seized the opportunity to bring the benefits of yoga to four schools this academic year: Brook Road Academy, Elkhardt-Thompson Middle School, Falling Creek Middle School and Binford Middle School. PYR Ambassadors provide yoga and mindfulness classes for students with a variety of needs, including students for whom English is a Second Language (classes include a Spanish-speaking interpreter) as well as students with special educational needs.

Kendra Robinson, Center Director for NextUp RVA at Elkhardt-Thompson explains, “So often we forget the trauma and stresses our students face. For them to learn to be in the moment and relax is a skill they can utilize not only in class, but at home, leading to an overall more healthy individual.”

PYR Ambassadors Keonna Knight and Sara Lovelace teach Elkhardt-Thompson’s yoga class in partnership with NextUp RVA. They are continually impressed by students’ honesty and openness when Keonna checks in each week at the outset of the class.

“Many of the students are experiencing emotions that we often label as negative,” Sara explains. “When a student responds saying that they are sad or bored, Keonna thanks them for sharing and lets them know that it’s okay to feel that way. I can feel how relieved they are. It’s a brief moment that has huge implications. It’s beautiful to witness.”

At this crucial developmental phase when students often feel dismissed, PYR’s Ambassadors validate their feelings and offer tools to cope. The very existence of PYR’s class acknowledges that students live complicated lives.

“Middle school is definitely a transitional time,” Sara remembers. “Your body is changing. Your mind is changing. You are waking up to more complicated ways of seeing the world. Yoga is an ideal tool for transitions because it forces us to stop and examine where we are at the moment.”

Every time you pay for your class at PYR or make a donation, you offer students in Richmond the time and space to examine their feelings and reduce their stress, leading to increased concentration, expanded creativity and more thoughtful decision-making.

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