During the 2022-2023 school year, all juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to take a Yoga class as a physical education (PE) credit. The semester-long course will be focused mainly on yoga and mindfulness practices.
The class’s weekly schedule will have two days of yoga flow; one day of endurance yoga, one day of restorative yoga, and one day of mindfulness, PE teacher Cassandra Niego said. Like normal PE courses, students will be graded on skill, knowledge and engagement. Summative assessments will be solely based on student interviews, where the student and teacher will conference on skills.
The inspiration for this course was mainly driven by student interest, physical welfare division chair Kurt Johns said. In January of 2020, a survey was given to all freshman students in PE classes, asking what physical activities they enjoy and want to engage in.
“We found that yoga, mental relaxation, and mindfulness were really high on our list for student responses,” Johns said. “We’re really trying to fill that niche of how we can meet the needs of students. We can’t keep doing the same stuff if kids don’t want to do that.”
PE teachers Brittany Sidoti, Mellissa Mitidiero, and Niego have worked towards their certification to teach this course. Niego has had a core role in developing the curriculum and believes the new class will serve to benefit students.
“A common misconception of westernized yoga is the sole focus on the yoga postures themselves and one’s flexibility,” Niego said. “Yoga postures not only develop one’s flexibility, it also develops one’s muscular strength and endurance. However, yoga is so much more than just a physical practice, it also grows one’s intellect and emotional being. Through regular yoga practice, one can improve their ability to concentrate and train their bodies and mind to cope with stress.”
Students who take this class have the opportunity to start logging hours towards their own certification to teach yoga for a possible career option.
“The overall goal of this class is to introduce students to the physical and mental aspects of yoga, in order to improve their flexibility and to provide opportunities to quiet the mind through a variety of mindfulness practices,” Niego said.
This class is designed for students at any skill level, and modifications are always an option for certain techniques, Niego said. Students who take this class will also have an option to take an athletic study hall. Yoga is just one among several new physical education courses offered by LT, such as self defense and strength training classes.
“It’s really important for us to continue to evolve as a physical welfare division, [because] health can take part in many forms,” Johns said. “While sports are great, they’re not for every student, and that’s okay. We want every student to have a positive experience in PE.”