LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Students at Ware East Texas Montessori Academy are learning new methods to deal with stress, aggravation, and anxiety. Namely, half-dance pose, downward dog, airplane pose, and more.
In the Ware cafeteria, students lined up in rows between tables, arms raised in quiet unison as their instructor calmly guided them through a yoga lesson.
“Okay, let’s go ahead and reach our hands up. We’re going to reach for the stars, stretching our bodies releasing any tension, releasing any aggression," said Arvitta Scott with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott is the 4H County Extension Agent for all of Gregg County. The yoga program she helps lead at Ware is only one of the programs she gets to implement in the county.
At Ware, Scott spends time working with students from 3rd through 5th grade on relaxing their bodies and minds through various poses meant to allow for meditation and focus on breathing.
“We just talked about what can we do to implement a program to kind of help our kids out with behavior, help our kids out with thinking,” Scott recalled. “We thought, hey, why not try yoga. It helps kids bring their bodies and minds into focus. And there are some incredibly fun yoga poses that we get a chance to do.”
Student Damian Romo said yoga helps hone the focus he already has in a way that helps during the school day.
“I’m already focused, but it helps me focus more so I can get an even higher grade [on tests],” he said.
Romo isn’t the only student who wants to do better on tests. Scott said the program began during the 2018-19 school year as a way for students who were anxious about the State of Texas Assessments for Academic Readiness (STAAR) test to learn coping methods to help before, during, and after the exam.
“Sometimes the kids get anxious, they get nervous, and we talk about that in Yoga 4 Kids,” Scott said. “We talk about some of those fun poses. Like, when you feel that tension and nervousness -- hey, break out with a yoga pose, have some fun with it so you can release that nervousness and kind of relax the body and relax the mind."
“I just do whatever makes me feel comfortable, and then my brain just opens up and gives me the answer,” said student Isaiah Smith.
More than just the stress that homework and testing can bring, Scott said it’s important for students to reflect on positive thoughts.
“I remind them that ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’, and so far, we’ve been successful," she added. "And I’m looking forward to May when they tell us ‘Hey! We did super! Yoga has really been helping us.’”