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Web Exclusive: Yoga helping students relieve stress and anger

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(CNN/WDSU) - A pilot program at some New Orleans schools is getting rave reviews for giving kids a release from stress and helping them deal with anger issues.  The school is bringing yoga into the classroom.

An ancient discipline dating back 5,000 years or more is brand new to kids at Arthur Ashe Charter School in Gentilly.  For two months, they've practiced deep breathing, meditation, and poses through yoga power play, a pilot program that empowers kids ages 9 to 13.

"The fact that they have tools outside of a yoga class to know that this is how I relax myself by taking a couple of deep breaths, knowing that they have access empowering themselves through breathing and through movement," says Lauren Darnell, Yoga Power Play.

Executive Director Laren Darnell says yoga helps kids relieve stress and calm down.  She shares a story of a little boy who was recently sent to the principal's office.

"He went into the office and he said I just need to sit in the corner and breathe for a couple of breaths and I'll be ok.  I feel better," says Darnell.  "It makes you feel really calm and relaxed.  If you're angry, you'll calm down," says Nadia Frederick, student.

School leaders say 98% of students participating have never exposed to yoga.
"I feel calm and I get all the anger out of me," says Jamari Metoyer, student.

10-year-old Jamari Metoyer says before yoga power play she was always angry. "I would be stressed out punch something."

"They need a place to calm down, they feel overwhelmed.  They feel things are happening and they can't stop it," says Jamari.

Principal Amanda Aiken, of Lawrence Crocker College Prep in Central City says many students come from high crime neighborhoods and need help dealing with stress at home. 

"The kids don't actually know they're getting therapy. They focus on the play.  They're excited they are going to PE and trying something new," says Amanda Aiken, Principal.

Something new that is changing young lives for good, cultivating ease off the mat and creating a space in the mind and body that wasn't there before.

Principal Amanda Aiken of Crocker College Prep says yoga isn't often offered to children in title one schools. She hopes the program will continue and be expanded.  

 

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