Yoga Stretches Its Way To After School Programming

Tree pose enhances balance, strengthens muscles

Tree pose enhances balance, strengthens muscles

You’re never too young to relieve stress – or to learn how to breathe. Just ask the kids in the after school program at Homeport’s Pheasant Run community. 

From the “Up Dog” to “Downward Dog” to the “Warrior Pose,” elementary and middle school students are learning yoga thanks to instructors brought in by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus.

“It’s different and I wanted to try it,” said Lanisha Clayton, 13. “It’s a stress reliever.”

It also leads to muscle development, said Reign Wilson, 12.

“It felt good. But then you start feeling the burn,” said Reign, a sixth grader. “I told my Mom and she said, ‘It’s good for you.’”

Seated meditation preceding breathing exercises

Seated meditation preceding breathing exercises

Yoga breathing techniques also help in providing oxygen to the body and creating a mechanism to deal with anger, said Halden Sabri, one of the instructors. “Breathing has a huge impact on their bodies . . . It’s more than an exercise.”

Alex Romstedt, Homeport’s Assistant Director of Learning & Engagement, said the yoga class is one more tool in building successful futures for children in the after school programs. 

“I think there’s definitely value here. Yoga is all about self-awareness, which without can lead to behavioral problems,” Romstedt said.

The classes began in March and are held every other Tuesday. The instructors are graduates of the Balanced Yoga Studio in Clintonville.

As part of their certification the instructors were told to find a place to make a “contribution … to provide yoga to people who normally would not have access,” said instructor Susan Marsh.

A friend of Marsh had a contact for Lisa Gordon, the Pheasant Run site leader for Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus, and from there the class was set in motion for her and fellow instructor, Sabri.

Sabri said she has been pleased with how well the classes have been received, particularly given shorter attention spans of children.

It doesn’t hurt the exercises have colorful names with positive impacts, like snake (posture), caterpillar (digestion) and elephant (spine), she said.