BY JULIA SAFRIN
School can be stressful and nerve-wracking. While study hall may serve as a break for some students, the new yoga elective, formally known as Fitness Lifestyle Design, is meditating its way into students’ busy lives and hectic schedules.
On last year’s course selection card, yoga made an appearance as one of the new physical education electives being offered by the school for the 2018-2019 school year. This year the class is being taught by physical education teacher and volleyball coach Jill Smitherman.
Yoga is a brand-new experience at CCHS and this school year is serving as its test run, in the hopes that it will stay as an elective option for good.
“We’re kind of making it [the yoga class curriculum] as we go along,” Smitherman said. “We’re going to have a unique experience this year in creating what we [the school] think is going to work.”
“We’re going to have a unique experience this year in creating what we [the school] think is going to work.”
Yoga is a spiritual tradition that originated in India around 5,000 years ago. Today, yoga includes breathing exercises, selfless service, meditation techniques, stretching and strengthening poses, among many other practices.
Even though yoga has been around for thousands of years, it is a fresh concept in the CCHS curriculum. What the class is going to consist of still has not been clearly set out. Currently, students taking yoga are being taught simple breathing techniques and poses. Later on in the year, they plan to work on more challenging techniques and practices.
“Right now, it’s really [in the] beginning stages,” Smitherman said. “They [the students] just have to learn how to breathe [and] learn how to stand before they can do anything else.”
Around 100 students are getting to experience the new school-based yoga program. Having yoga class during the school day gives students a break from their schoolwork and provides an alternative from the typical physical education and sports courses offered at school. So far, yoga has been serving as a healthy benefit for the students enrolled in the course.
“Yoga is beneficial to me because it allows me to stay active, healthy and relaxed so I’m not as stressed,” sophomore and current yoga student Bri Padilla said.
“Yoga is beneficial to me because it allows me to stay active, healthy and relaxed so I’m not as stressed.”
Although yoga may be new to Cooper and the school is still trying to get the hang of the course, it is one of the many schools across the country that have been implementing the class into their curriculum. Researchers who studied school-based yoga in U.S. schools observed that providing yoga within schools may be a practical and effective way to help students learn how to manage stress and regulate emotions.
By providing a yoga course in school, students have found their concentration, attention, anxiety and self-esteem have improved significantly. The benefits yoga is able to provide can serve as an advantage to students, which is one of the reasons yoga came to Cooper.
“There is a great push in the county, let alone all over, that a lot of mindfulness, a lot more of a peaceful approach and some variation in your typical physical education classes can bring a really different experience,” Smitherman said. “[Yoga can] help people find ways to de-stress, relax and help cope and learn more about their bodies.”
Yoga offers a new opportunity for students to relax, decompress and discover new things about themselves. This new elective has yet to go through its first full school year, but it still holds the aspirations of being beneficial to students. Many hope the course will be nama-“staying” in the curriculum for years to come.
Photo by Cassie Hartmann