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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy photo White Rock fourth graders enjoy learning about yoga and its benefits during a special class led by certified yoga instructor Andrea Blair. Fourth-grade teacher Breanna Watkins was instrumental in organizing the special class.

Breanna Watkins can now touch her toes. She has better flexibility, has better balance and has brought a sense of calmness to her life while working with some energetic fourth graders.

In the six months the White Rock Elementary School teacher has taken on yoga, she feels better overall. She wants to extend those advantages to her students.

"I wanted those benefits for my kids," she said.

So she asked her certified yoga instructor, Andrea Blair, if she would be interested in leading a class for the entire fourth grade.

Blair jumped at the chance.

"I coordinated the class to their age," Blair said. "I wanted it to be interactive for them. One young man yelled, 'I really love this!' It was the sweetest thing."

The group of 40 fourth graders met in the school gym. Lead by Blair, the group learned various yoga techniques and poses for flexibility, relaxation and breathing techniques.

Blair felt the students were receptive to the yoga lesson. Many yoga poses are named after animals, and she felt the students found that somewhat comical but yet were respectful and took it all in.

"I was able to walk them through the poses," she said. "They did really well with it."

Watkins hoped the students would learn coping skills and stress relief.

Some of the students didn't know much about yoga before launching into the class, Watkins said. The information they had about yoga was a concept portrayed by the media.

Though they didn't exactly know what to expect, the yoga class was a hit.

"They all loved it," Watkins said. Students told Watkins, "this is actually fun!"

Blair volunteered her time to teach the class for the youngsters, only suggesting a donation could be made for the McDonald County 4 Kids backpack initiative.

She believes integrating yoga at any age -- especially with young participants -- can be key for relieving stress and pain from sitting at a desk all day.

Poses to help with lower back pain and proper breathing techniques to reduce anxiety are helpful for young students, she said.

Watkins initially became interested in yoga last year, believing it would help her feel better. She watched some videos online but was thrilled when her mother found Blair, who holds classes in Anderson.

She recently told her mother that she has made great strides since embarking on her yoga journey.

"I can touch my toes now!" she said.

Experiencing such personal growth, Watkins is motivated to help her students function better and has taken her students' interest in yoga one step further. She was able to video Blair leading the class and utilizes that tool. Every morning after the school breakfast is over, Watkins offers a chance to strike some yoga poses with any interested student.

About 10 students gather every day for about 15 minutes. That time in the early morning has proven fruitful so far.

"The students have told me they feel more relaxed, more awake, their backs feel better. There's definitely some clear benefits," she said.

The fourth-grade teacher wants to continue building that calming routine moving forward.

She plans to apply for a grant so that each student can have his or her own mat at the beginning of the school year in August.

Other school officials also are reaching out to Blair for yoga instruction for students.

Noel school officials have asked Blair to consider the idea. Blair, who juggles a full-time job while leading numerous yoga classes, is looking into the possibility.

As time permits, she is considering helping other schools. She also hopes to host at least two youth yoga classes over the summer.

General News on 03/14/2019

Print Headline: White Rock Fourth Graders Enjoy Yoga

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