Yoga mats. Photo via Harvard University Health Publications.
Crescenta Valley High School

Finding balance: The successful inception of yoga at Crescenta Valley High School

Many students can attest that the average school day is brimming with enough stress that it is challenging to find a free moment of relaxation. Especially with next year’s class registration happening in recent weeks, as well as the pressure of AP exams looming around the corner, Crescenta Valley High School’s student body is no exception. This impossibility to achieve an equal balance between study and repose is the very issue that led Crescenta Valley staff to seek out a surefire way to reduce the inevitable stress upon students.

Early last year, the decision was made to implement a new daily yoga class for the 2016-17 school session. The class would be considered physical education credit, take place inside the school’s gym within the school day, and host a maximum of about 60 students. Soon, its immediate popularity among students, observed through an excess of sign-ups, led to the establishment of two periods of yoga for the new school year. It was clear that CV students had absolutely no reluctance to join the program in its debut and were eager to experience the benefits that yoga during school can yield.

“Part of our mission statement is to address the whole person,” explains Dr. Jan Babington, Crescenta Valley High School’s instructor of yoga, as well as health and physical education. “We are working towards students being mindful, and being able to be in the moment… it takes away the high stress level here at CV.”

Yoga as a form of exercise has long been known to provide a wide variety of health benefits, both mental and physical. Practicing yoga unites the mind and body, instantly giving a person complete awareness of his or her movements. This synchrony increases feelings of self-control and subsequently leads to a state of calmness. Physically, stretching through yoga’s many asanas, or postures, recuperates the body and puts not only muscles, but organs in balance. Also, its low impact on the body makes it a perfect alternative for students with conditions that make excessive exercise burdensome, such as asthma and recurring injuries.

After a semester of the yoga class, it is no secret that students in the program have been able to feel a noticeable difference in their well-being at school.

“I’m definitely able to relax more, control my breathing, and center myself,” student Raine Orcullo said. “It takes some of the stress off schoolwork, and I always look forward it.”

The program’s positive testimonies and lasting results have encouraged more and more students to consider enrollment. Its unmistakable success has even given rise to the addition of a third period of yoga during the 2017-18 year.

As far as whether yoga class will become permanent at Crescenta Valley High, Dr. Babington assures, “The enthusiasm is growing… It’ll be around for a while.”