With the arrival of junior year stresses, Yoga and Stress Management takes up one quarter of a junior’s Wellness period in the hopes of relieving these new stressors and encouraging physical activity throughout the day. Implemented into the RHS curriculum as a direct response to stressful junior obligations, (such as the SAT/ACT, AP Exams, college visits, etc.) the class is designed to aid juniors in successfully meeting all of their pressing requirements. And with students’ schedules further drawing time away time after school and on the weekends, such a class provides guidance to those with packed schedules.
Yoga and Stress Management is comprised of three different sectors during the four day rotation at RHS: a yoga day, a classroom day, and a run day. Yoga days feature about 30 to 40 minutes of yoga, including different poses and exercises utilizing multiple muscles and aspects of fitness, such as flexibility or balance. This is followed by a brief relaxation period during which students are able to rest on their mats, close their eyes, and dispel all thoughts in order to clear their mind. Classroom days take up the 80 minute period, and consist of discussions as well as notetaking regarding types of stress, stress responses, and ways to deal with stress. After most classroom days, each student must complete a written reflection on the topic covered in class which represents the majority of a student’s grade. Finally, the run day brings aerobic fitness into the mix for the last day of the rotation.
The constant switching between activities presents a unique variety to students during the week, whereas in other wellness classes, the only rotation may be between a workout day and a run day. There is a focus on yoga and relaxation, learning in the classroom, and aerobic fitness in the form of running. Such daily alteration is appealing to some students with an otherwise fixed daily schedule. This variety also allows students to dabble in three different areas that can help relieve stress. Practicing relaxation techniques while simultaneously learning ways to respond to stress and also exercising on run days creates a well-rounded experience where students engage in scientifically proven ways to cope with stressful situations.
Many students have heard that the class is a regular gym class but with more work. The written reflections are quite numerous and take a bit of time to complete, and many feel that they should not be doing work in a “gym” class. When I took the class in Quarter Two of this year, I heard the occasional, “Why am I getting more stress in ‘Stress Management?’” comments, and there is some truth to that. A class must have grades entered into Skyward, and the classroom element includes those reflections as a byproduct. Some also complain about run days, as they do not believe that it is useful for them to cope with stress. However, the class is designed to present students with more of a hands-on learning experience.
Despite the seemingly unreasonable work expectation, the benefits are there. The assignments are not abundant simply to burden the student, but are necessary to bring about genuine reflections. In general, most have shared that they would not have been able to address their own stressors if the assignments were not so in depth. The classroom lessons also encourage healthy habits that may not have been thought of otherwise that can resolve the stressors of other classes. Varsity athlete Taylor Barnabic, a junior at RHS, commented on how the class has been of use to him with his packed schedule: “I can’t say that the class has dramatically enhanced my schoolwork process, however it does help relieve some pressures,” he commented. “I always have yoga before I take tests in my AP elective this year and I think that is definitely beneficial before a stressful 80 minute test. Beyond being a relaxing period, I don’t see much enhancement, but I don’t think that I feel as much stress as the average student despite my commitment to my sport.” If even an athlete like Taylor finds that the class alleviates his schedule, anyone can find some form of a benefit.
The administration is making an effort to help the RHS student body by implementing a time during the day in which students can relax while equipping themselves with tools for the future. RHS values its students when it comes to stress and scheduling, and Yoga and Stress Management serves to provide solace in a crammed day as a guiding light for those navigating a large amount of work and unforgivingly packed schedules.
Graphic: Ryan Rhew