May 17, 2023 -- Once a month, students at Columbus Global Academy and Columbus International High School gather after school and learn techniques to help them relax and focus.
March kicked off the first of three after-school yoga classes for students. Students signed up to take classes led by instructors from Bluespot Yoga in Bexley. Through these classes, students learn the basics of yoga, breathing techniques, mindfulness strategies, and ways to de-stress.
“We’ve had students say it’s helped them with testing and helped them with their anxiety,” said Caryn Shapiro, ESL teacher at Columbus Global. “It’s helped them with stress. I’ve heard them say after class that they want to do this more than once a month.”
Staci McCool, the owner of Bluespot Yoga, said the partnership between the studio and the school happened organically and has been steadily growing. Classes started out with five students, and attendance doubled the next month.
“One of my favorite things that ever happened to me as a teacher happened in one of these classes,” McCool said. “We were learning to focus on our inhales and exhales. I looked around the room and asked how everyone was doing, and one of the students said they didn’t even think about their breath before taking yoga.”
Shapiro said she has seen how lessons learned in the sessions transfer to the classroom.
“Just being in the moment can be huge,” Shapiro said. “Being able to know that you’ve been testing for a certain period of time but still have a bit to go, you can take a few minutes to sit there and breathe and re-center and then be ready to go.”
“Even just focusing on one thing at a time is another valuable skill,” McCool said. “That’s their focus. They can take the test one question at a time.”
However, the benefits aren’t just for the students.
“There are a lot of staff who are involved, too,” Shapiro said. “It’s good for us, too. I so rarely take the time for myself during the day because I am so focused on giving all I have to my students. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Sometimes, it’s really good to be reminded of that. Just an hour is a huge benefit.”
Shapiro and McCool hope to continue the classes into the next school year.
“One of the students asked me if this is going to continue past May,” Shapiro said. “It’s a great partnership, and it helps everyone. The more mindful we are, the more control we have and the better we are able to manage our stress and overwhelm, which can help in academics and our social-emotional well-being as well.”