During the school day, Room 113 at Westbury Middle School is a regular classroom. But once a week after school, it transforms into a serene haven as the meeting location for the school’s yoga club.
The club is still in its infancy, having started in November, but has already seen a positive response. At least 10 girls show up each week to do relaxing, strengthening stretches.
The club is led by Physical Education and Health teacher Melissa Label, who has been practicing yoga for 11 years and is a certified yoga instructor. She started trying to infuse yoga into the gym curriculum a couple of years ago, and after students expressed interest, jumped at the chance to teach them yoga after school. They officially became a club late last year.
Though still new, the club has already seen a positive response. Atleast 10 girls show up each week to do planks, downward dogs, warriors, and more relaxing stretches that build their muscle strength. Though they’ve only met about a few times, students have already seen the benefits.
“I joined yoga because I felt so stressed out with school work. I needed an escape and to relax,” says eighth grader Alexandra Laporte. “Now I’m not so stressed out and I think of yoga poses when I get to that point.”
“It’s relaxing and takes my mind off class and homework,” said fellow eighth grader Chrissy West. “It helps me sleep better because if I can’t sleep I just think about the poses.”
Label says she’s seen firsthand how much the girls love the 45 minutes of peace and quiet.
“Anything new is a little weird and uncomfortable, but they got into it pretty quickly,” says Label. “They focus on the poses and are not worried about what others are doing. They really do use it as a time to relax.”
Label says the skills learned through the club go beyond just middle school and are techniques students can use the rest of their lives.
“I teach them little tricks they can use every day, like breathing techniques,” says Label. “We live in a hectic world so it’s good to have skills and tools to remind you to check in with yourself and breathe.”
The club is planning a trip to Old Westbury Gardens in June where they will get to participate in their “Yoga in the Gardens” program.
By Betsy Abraham