Yoga Course Counters Stress

Harris Sahar, Staff Writer

Yoga, a new course offered to seniors and juniors this year, teaches relaxation and breathing techniques, improved flexibility, and improved strength.  It also addresses a growing concern on top performing high school campuses: Stress.

Course instructor Chris Walsh believes that students take the class because it promotes both physical and emotional health. “The main purpose is to offer a tool for stress management, a class that could help relax, focus, and bring a little peace to the kids,” explained Walsh.

According to junior Trent Capurro, yoga is an ideal class for athletes. Capurro is a track runner who uses yoga to help with recovery and maintaining flexibility. “I think it’s really helped my flexibility. During the cross country season, I had a lot less muscle tightness than last season,” he explained.

In addition to the benefits of strength, improved flexibility and balance,  yoga is a healthy way to relieve stress and manage stress related illness. According to a study by Harvard University, yoga is good for the heart. In addition to working muscles and increasing cardiovascular strength, yoga can reduce high blood pressure and lower cardiovascular risk factors like blood sugar, cholesterol, and stress hormones.

Because Walsh considers anxiety management to be one of the main goals of his course, he does not want students to worry about their grade. Walsh wanted to make an assessment system that would be effective, but not put pressure on the students. “We didn’t want to structure it so they would be ‘stressed’ about their yoga grade,” Walsh said.

To reduce test anxiety, students are only formally assessed once a quarter. Handouts for various poses are provided in advance of written tests. These written tests ask students to identify yoga poses from the handouts. The Finals test consists of a written portion, where students identify yoga poses, as well as a physical portion where students are asked to demonstrate poses.

“We’re going to have a 75 minute yoga practice, which would be their practicum aspect,” said Walsh. According to junior Tyler Bohon, a student’s grade is mostly based on participation.

Students are allowed to wear yoga pants, sweats, shorts, or a comfortable shirt during class. There are T-Shirts available for students as well. “The key is loose fitting clothing because of the range of posture,” Walsh says.

According to Bohon, yoga is an optimal class for all students, regardless of whether they are athletes or not.