Yoga Elective Supports Student Wellness


Erika Riedel, Business Editor

A pleasant respite from rigorous classes, competitive sports, and demanding social lives, the yoga elective, taught by certified yoga instructor Chris Walsh, continues to gain popularity with students.

The program now boasts 45-50 students in each of its 4 periods. In addition to a year-long course, yoga is available as a semester class for sophomores to take alongside their required health class.

Walsh also offers yoga sessions during Wednesday and Friday academies.

Junior Emma Dillard, who took a semester of yoga her sophomore year, said, “That semester I felt a lot more relaxed going into my other classes and just in general about school, whereas the next semester, when I had health, I felt more overwhelmed with my classes.”

Junior Emmie Miller, who took yoga for a full year, agrees. “Yoga was a really great time for me to just reset mentally, and it helped to teach me different strategies for managing stress and be more mindful in general,” she said.

1 way Walsh targets stress-relief is through the practice of “Ashtanga,” a type of yoga that includes 8 different components. Walsh incorporates 2 out of the 8 phases into his classes: Pranayama (breath technique) and Asana (yoga postures).

Walsh sees Pranayama as the most important. “The breath work really helped kids when they were in a stressful situation or if they had a hard time falling asleep. It is the key to help calm the mind,” said Walsh.

Another favorite pose among students is Shavasana, or the resting pose, which is usually performed during the last portion of each class period. It can offer students a few more precious minutes of sleep lost by late nights studying.

According to Miller, Shavasana was 1 her favorite part of the class.

“Even when I would have to stay up really late doing homework I always knew that the next day I would have time not only to get extra rest but also to re-center myself,” said Miller.

Along with the daily yoga routines, Walsh’s genuine care for his students helps improve their mental well-being.

“Before finals he talks about not staying up the night before class and talks about study tips. I think he knows how much stress students are under and he targets the class towards that,” said Dillard.

Miller added, “Having Coach Walsh was great because he always brought a really positive and happy energy to the class. He was always really understanding when it came to not being able to do a pose or being stressed out and always did his best to turn a student’s day around.”