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Managing school stress by bringing yoga into the classroom

The back-to-school period can mean a stressful transition for students, parents and teachers alike. To help them manage that anxiety, the nonprofit program Y.O.G.A. for Youth is bringing techniques for mindfulness and relaxation to the classroom. Damien Henson of Student Reporting Labs has the story.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It's that time of year. School is starting across the country. It can be a stressful time for kids and parents.

    One nonprofit program, Y.O.G.A. for Youth, is trying to help students combat anxiety and practice relaxation in schools and in community centers.

    This story was produced by teachers and students who participated in "PBS NewsHour" Student Reporting Labs' annual summer academy, and it's part of our regular series on education, Making the Grade.

  • Marley McKind:

    I was getting, you know, rejection letters from scholarships and programs I wanted to do, and I was applying to colleges, so it was extremely overwhelming and stressful.

  • Briannan Deluca:

    As a teenager, I really wanted to please everyone. I just wanted everyone to be happy. When you do that, you are not happy yourself.

  • Man:

    We're going to do this with our eyes closed.

  • Damien Henson:

    After seeing his students struggle, Northwood High School art teacher Dharma Atma Singh started using yoga to help them cope with anxiety.

  • Dharma Atma Singh:

    I was having a tough day with kids, and I pulled out my yoga mat, and I sat down and started doing some meditation, but I had forgotten to lock my doors. And two of my roughest kids came rolling through the door. And I said, sit down. I will show you.

    And so the number of kids started expanding.

  • Damien Henson:

    For Dharma's former students, Briannan and Marley, yoga gave them a new lease on life during the most difficult time of their high school careers.

  • Dharma Atma Singh:

    A lot of our kids — in fact, I would say most of our kids are in crisis in one form or another.

    We have a lot of anxiety, stress, trauma that happens in life. And kids who are teenagers, it's a difficult time of transition for them, anyway.

  • Damien Henson:

    Now Dharma hopes to share his yoga practice with teachers throughout Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. He uses a curriculum developed by Y.O.G.A. for Youth, a nonprofit organization working to bring yoga and mindfulness to students across the country.

    Emily Cord, an elementary school teacher, is attending Dharma's workshop.

  • Emily Cord:

    It helps me be more mindful about what's going on in students' lives and really think about how I can support them better through different stretches or exercises to deal with these challenges in their lives.

  • Marley McKind:

    I go to school in the Appalachian area, where public schools are pretty low funded, and there's a lot of problems. After college, I'm hoping to take a year to save and get my yoga teacher training.

  • Damien Henson:

    Dharma says his ultimate goal is to spread his message of peace and love to everyone who needs it.

  • Dharma Atma Singh:

    Y.O.G.A. for Youth provides them with tools in their tool belt to be able to self regulate and to manage themselves to make good decisions, to, you know, deal with their stress, their anxiety, their pressures that they have to deal with on a daily basis.

  • Marley McKind:

    Meditation has helped me to find empathy for a wider range of people.

  • Damien Henson:

    For "PBS NewsHour" Student Reporting Labs, I'm Damien Henson in Silver Spring, Maryland.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And that was from Northwood High School in Silver Spring. Thank you.

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