Students at St. Peter’s Elementary School in Hokah gained some insight last week on how to channel their own tranquility by practicing yoga during their physical education classes.
Guest instructor Ann Wolta-Blackstone led a group of kindergarten through second-graders through a specialized yoga session last Thursday morning, before doing the same with an older group of students in the afternoon.
Wolta-Blackstone, who lives in Denver, Colorado and works as a professional golf instructor, is good friends with St. Peter’s Physical Education teacher Sherry Sipusich.
Sipusich asks that whenever Wolta-Blackstone is in town for her to teach a few yoga classes to her students, with the first occasion happening this past fall.
“Just getting them to relax, and know how to find calmness within themselves,” said Sipusich of the students’ betterment from learning yoga. “That’s so beneficial and important for them.”
Wolta-Blackstone instructed the St. Peter’s group through relaxing and balancing techniques, like child’s and tree pose, which required students to concentrate on their focus and steady breathing.
“It’s bettering their balance and their focus,” Wolta-Blackstone said. “Because if they’re looking at everybody that’s falling over, of course they’re also going to fall over.”
Students worked together to perform the buddy boat pose, which Wolta-Blackstone was impressed at how flexible and able most of the students were.
To bring some excitement to the session, Wolta-Blackstone had students practice lion’s breath, which is a powerful breathing method that entails forceful exhalation.
Engaging in lion’s breath, which is used to reduce anger or stress through the active exhale, brought joy to many students’ faces. Wolta-Blackstone also incorporated the cat/cow breath and movement to instigate more enthusiasm from the group.
“It’s something they can do at home, or just do by themselves,” she said. “And even since I was just here in October, they remembered so much of what I taught them, so that was really cool to see.”