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Aspen Students Find Balance with Yoga 4 Classrooms Program

New program promotes mindfulness and stress reduction

“Breathe in good thoughts. Breathe out fears about mistakes, because mistakes are proof you are trying.”

Before sitting down to take a mathematics exam, this is one of the positive affirmations third grade teacher Kathi Byington tells her students as they practice yoga in their Aspen Elementary classroom.

Their daily yoga is part of a “Yoga 4 Classrooms” program that, with encouragement from Aspen Elementary Principal Paula Golem, both Mrs. Byington and fourth grade teacher Lori Brown introduced to the school after attending a special training in Pasadena last February.

Every classroom is now equipped with a deck of “Yoga 4 Classrooms” cards that outline stretches and poses teachers can lead their students in practicing as part of the school’s broader Growth Mindset Program.

“The Yoga 4 Classrooms helps us take a whole child approach, focusing on the social and emotional needs of our students, and teaching them self-reflection and self-regulation of the stress, anxiety, frustration they may occasionally feel,” Principal Golem said.

Although the Yoga 4 Classroom program is still in its beginning stages, the campus is already seeing benefits with a reduction in conflicts at recess.

“I usually use yoga for a few minutes to help prepare my students for a challenging lesson, before a test, or just to help them relax and quiet themselves when they need to really focus and think,” said Mrs. Byington. “Sometimes it is the perfect brain break.”

Aspen’s Growth Mindset Program includes an emphasis on leadership for its students. As part of this philosophy the school’s monthly recognition awards focuses on the qualities and student characteristics that play a crucial part in student success, such as perseverance, self-confidence, problem solving, and support of others. A focus that teachers have found is well supplemented by yoga in the classroom.

The practicing of warrior pose and power breath is not just for students. Aspen faculty now kick off their staff meetings with yoga too. 

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