New yoga class teaches mindfulness, technique

Valerie Kramer, Morgan Healy, and

In a room filled with colorful yoga mats, students take their places – designated by a customized name tag and a personal journal – and begin to clear their heads to center themselves for the exercise they will be completing. After first stretching and journaling, they spend the next 75 minutes learning about yoga and executing various poses. This time offers the students a chance to escape the anxiety and chaos of the school day while allowing them the opportunity to quiet their minds and exercise.

The yoga class is a new elective this year for students of all grades and abilities. Taught by Director of Dance Programs Kristina Marquez and certified instructor Jacquelyn Hamilton, the class is held during blocks five and eight in the Monarch Pavilion.

According to Marquez, administration took into account the student body’s opinions and felt that with the new mental health emphasis at school, this was the perfect time to institute a yoga class.

“What’s … unique to [the class] is that it’s just a ‘for credit’ class, so what that tells me about the students that sign up is that they really want to be there, which is awesome,” Marquez said.

In other words, students do not receive a numerical or letter grades; instead they receive a “pass” or “no pass” at the end of each semester.

There is a format to the class that is followed daily. 

Students come into the class, mindful of its quiet space … For the first five minutes, they are encouraged to stay in one of three yoga poses we have learned and close their eyes, empty their mind of the day’s activities, preparing for their daily yoga.” Hamilton said. 

Then, they stretch, review, and go through some exercises. The class is finished with a savasana and optional exercise according to Hamilton. A savasana, which is junior Kaitlyn Holl’s favorite part of the class, is known as “the corpse pose” and consists of participants lying on the ground and relaxing their bodies and minds.

“At the end of every class we lay on the floor and our teacher turns off the lights, it’s super relaxing and a great way to end the school day,” said Holl, who also participates in yoga outside of school. 

Holl said she chose to take the class because she thought it would be a fun opportunity to practice yoga in school with her friends.

Many athletes are also partaking in the class which, according to Marquez, can be beneficial as a form of cross-training. For example, senior Jeffrey Peterson, who is on the sailing team, finds that yoga provides beneficial abilities to help him in his sport.

“… [I] saw that it would be a really cool thing to take, not only for just the fact to be able to do yoga, but it could help with my athletic performance and being able to stretch out and being able to relax and build strength for competition later on,” Petersen said.

Being that the class is athletic in its nature, students who participate are required to dress in the proper athletic attire as is outlined in the course syllabus. There is also a fee for participating in yoga. If you are interested in this class, the fee consists of $150. It covers facilities, instructor costs, lockers, rental mats, and regular program costs according to Hamilton.

“What I’m excited for this year at least is that [in yoga, you’re] connected with the mind, body, spirit and how you approach one thing on your mat is how you approach a lot of different things in life, so if you’re really pushing and straining to get a certain pose, you might be approaching your academic life or your personal life,” Marquez said.