Yoga classes in elementary school

March 31, 2009 3:54:18 PM PDT
Students at one New York City elementary school are learning more than the three R's. Their fourth "R" is relaxation, because they're taking yoga classes. The fourth graders at P.S. 132 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, look forward to their weekly yoga classes.

"I like yoga because the first time I did it I felt very relaxed," said student Renaldo Tecorral.

This is the fourth year of yoga classes at the school. They are based on a curriculum tailored for children of all ages. It's planned and administered by the not-for-profit called Bent on Learning, which teaches yoga at dozens of city schools.

"It's fully in line with the New York State standards for physical education, so that every child who takes yoga as a gym elective gets academic credit as if they were taking P.E," said Jennifer Ford of Bent on Learning.

"It's kind of better than gym because we get to act like we're animals and stuff like that," said student Nina Rice.

"You get to be trees, bugs, crocodiles, fish, elephants, lions, and really get into the poses too," said yoga teacher Ellie Losleben. "They get to use their imaginations and their bodies together in a way that doesn't normally happen with sports."

In a world of high stakes testing and the pressure that comes with it, administrators at P.S. 132 feel that yoga offers exactly what the students need.

"That test anxiety level has really been brought down quite a bit," said Principal Beth Lubeck, "and they feel much more confident and much more secure and we see them breathing. So what we did here is we wrote in our memo that we give out the night before a test: 'Remember, do yoga.'" With the relaxation they feel by the end of a class, the kids also say yoga gives them good results in school.

"It helps me get more things right on my tests and when the teacher goes over my work and I check it myself, I get more things right also," said student Krystle Salvati.

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