At Kurn Hattin, we stress the importance of being involved in activities. We offer team sports, and we have expanded our offerings to include lifetime activities. We have offered fishing, archery, sewing, dance, running, walking, skiing and snowboarding, just to name a few. We encourage students to try new things, explore options and to step out of their comfort zone. We hope to spark an interest or ignite passion.
This fall, we introduced yoga as an after school activity. After doing research about trauma in children, it is evident that many of our children have experienced some trauma in their lives. Trauma experts agree that yoga helps relieve stress and helps students deal with the trauma in their lives. It allows students to explore breathing techniques, be in tune with their bodies and develop better coping skills.
I asked eight students to be part of a pilot program and commit to 8 weeks of yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I then asked Sonja Fullum, Administrative Assistant, to teach the class. She happily agreed. I asked Leah Gordon, Counselor, to be part of the group. Sonja teaches the yoga poses and leads us through the class. Leah leads the medication and “story time.” I am there for support. Students are learning breathing techniques, yoga poses, strength, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques.
After three weeks, one of the girls came into class complaining that she didn’t want to stay. She had a bad day. She was angry. She was irritated with another student in the group. She fussed and argued and asked to leave. I asked her to stay. I asked the students to write how they were feeling right then in their journals that we provide. They wrote quickly and furiously. Sonja then led them through their poses, and Leah did her story time and meditation. At the end, we asked them again to write in their journals about how they were feeling. The girl that came in anxious and upset, not wanting to be in yoga, asked if she could tell others how she felt. She shared that she felt relaxed for the first time all day. She was happy she had stayed for the class and was ready to face the rest of the day. It was a success! Our experimental yoga class was working!
Our class is coming to a close. We have a few more sessions. The students were given yoga cards to practice when they are feeling stressed, or just as part of their day. We are encouraging them to add yoga and meditation to their lives, and hope they will continue their practices. Maybe they will even sign up for another round. Let’s hope so.
Karen Lansberry, Director of Residential Services