By Allison Stanley, Support Teacher & Yoga Instructor
Students giggle with glee as they gather up their belongings and head out to carpool. Not long after the last child leaves, you can hear the sound of sticky mats unfolding. Today is “Yoga Tuesday,” an after-school yoga practice for High Meadows teachers and staff. Some of the yogis unfolding their mats have been with the group since it began in 2012. Others “drop-in” according to the flexibility of their schedule. They weave in and out of the group throughout the year, and each time they return to their mats, there is a sigh of relief as if “coming home.” Bodies have changed, the breath has become a friend, and there is a growing awareness that a commitment to self-care is transformative. In yoga we find relief from the superficial demands of the day.
For teachers, who spend their days caring for others, yoga has the potential to bestow a greater sense of physical and mental balance. The practice of yoga involves meditation, asana (yoga poses) and pranayama practices (deep belly breathing). Research shows that a regular yoga routine allows caregivers–whose personal well-being is often put on hold– time to let go and focus on themselves. Yoga relieves stress, improves balance and coordination, increases core stability and helps increase bone density. Anxiety and chronic low back pain can be reduced or eliminated with a regular practice. Practicing yoga increases our ability to leave the day behind and transition into our evening, more able to focus on our loved ones.
Each week, we unfold our mats and practice together to release our day and inhale calm. The intention in yoga is to unify the body, breath and mind. We then roll our mats up and drive home, relaxed, renewed and restored.