South Mississippi Strong: Long Beach students use yoga to relax, stay calm

South Mississippi Strong: Long Beach students use yoga to relax, stay calm

LONG BEACH, Miss. (WLOX) - Learning isn’t just limited to what’s in the books anymore. At Reeves Elementary School in Long Beach, yoga is being used not only to promote a healthy lifestyle, but also to improve learning and life experiences.

And it doesn’t take long for the students to pick up on the benefits of yoga.

“It’s really fun because we get to relax our minds,” said 3rd grade student Bret Newman.

School counselor Jessica Donald has participated in yoga for much of her life and started offering the yoga classes for her students last year.

“I saw the influence that it had on my life with my anxiety, and I wanted to bring it to the students and let them have the same experience that I have,” Donald said. “The goal was to give the students something that they could take to the classroom or back home to give themselves a chance to calm down, to find peace, to maybe concentrate and to focus in the classroom also."

In the yoga instructional class, Donald uses a variety of techniques to connect with the children and help them find peace, including a method she calls the secret garden.

“The secret garden is where you lay down, if you’re mad you can go your secret garden or worried or scared or something, and it helps,” explained Silas Pingul, a 3rd grade student.

The exercises can come in handy for the children when confronted with anger.

“If you’re mad at a kid or classmate, you can easily calm down if you just think about something that you did in yoga,” said 3rd grade student Janson Gros.

Donald is also using the yoga techniques to deal with and prevent behavior problems in school.

“Behaviors have to be taught just like skills in school have to be taught,” Donald said. “You can’t just tell a child to focus and pay attention. You have to teach them what that means, and you have to do it in a fun way because they’re kids. Yoga has given us that approach to be able to teach them to concentrate, to follow directions and a fun way of doing it also."

It’s Donald’s hope that the calming lessons will stick with the students throughout their lives.

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