New Yoga Program Allows Students to Reduce Stress


Photo of students practicing yoga by Ben Goldman

Ben Goldman

Earlier this year, West Bloomfield High School pioneered an after school yoga program, run by associate principal Dr. Mara Hoffart and an E-RYT certified yoga teacher Linda Kay.

“Stress plays a negative effect on students’ health and wellness,” said Dr. Hoffert, “so I feel there is an urgency to offer this type of supportive program for our students, so they could learn to control their breathing and bodies, and therefore reactions and perspective.”

Studies have shown that when students engage in yoga, their stress and anxiety decrease.  The proof, however, is not just in these studies.  Students that have taken the first round of the after-school yoga sessions have nothing short of great things to say, that only further proves the positive effect yoga has on their lives.

“Yoga is honestly such a great opportunity at this school,” said senior Gauri Oak, who attended the first round of sessions. “It is a place where no one gets judged. Ms. Kay is such a great teacher and she encourages us to test our limits, but never forces us to go farther than we want to.”

Gauri started attending the weekly sessions in order to de-stress, while learning about yoga at the same time. Deciding to partake in the yoga is a decision she is glad she made. “Contrary to popular belief, senior year is stressful, so having yoga in the middle of the week is a great opportunity.”

Senior year comes with a fair share of stress, but freshman year also has its own unique struggles. When freshman Sydney Bernstein first walked into West Bloomfield High School in September, she, along with her peers, was intimidated. It’s a big school, dynamics shift, and in a matter of months the freshman dropped from the top to the bottom of the foodchain. To help cope with this added stress, Sydney decided to try the after-school yoga program, and agrees with Guari that it was one of the best decisions she has made this year.

“I signed up because I thought it would be a fun thing to do while also relieving stress,” said Sydney. “I met a lot of new people and it helped me to focus my mind when I got home after so I could get my work done.”

Each yoga session teaches students about the negative effect stress plays on their health, happiness, and performance. Students who attend the course will gain an understanding of how to manage anxiety, pressure, and stressful situations productively.

Because of this overwhelmingly positive response, a second round of 14 courses will be offered next semester, beginning on February 8 and continuing throughout May. Registration has already begun; there is a form you can pick up from the counseling department, as well as a one-time fee of $25 that covers all 14 sessions. Yoga mats will be provided.

For more information, please contact Dr. Hoffert at [email protected]