Yoga sessions educate young bodies at Nautilus Elementary

Fifth-graders Joan Hui Kim and Maddy Deroche practice a yoga stretch during class at Nautilus Elementary School on Monday.  - Margo Hoffman/The Mirror
Fifth-graders Joan Hui Kim and Maddy Deroche practice a yoga stretch during class at Nautilus Elementary School on Monday.
— image credit: Margo Hoffman/The Mirror

Fifth-grade teacher Debi Koch aims to educate the minds and bodies of students in her class at Nautilus Elementary School.

“You want to promote overall well-being for the kids,” she said. “Life’s about balance.”

Their minds, Koch educates with books. Their bodies she educates with yoga.

Every Monday and Wednesday morning, Koch’s students gather in the library for 20 minutes of stretching and relaxation exercises. Koch said she focuses on balance, strength and endurance. She also hopes the students practice using the breathing techniques outside of class.

“They have another tool for relaxation,” she said.

The yoga curriculum was made possible by a $600 grant from the Northwest Physicians Network. Koch used the grant money to purchase yoga mats, a bin, a CD player and Lysol to clean the mats. Her own yoga teacher donated some CDs and also taught one of the classes.

Yoga is a fun activity and a nice opportunity to get out of the classroom, said fifth-grader Maddy Deroche.

“I used to think it was boring, but it gets kind of fun. You get stronger,” Deroche said. “It makes you stronger so you can do more things at recess.”

Yoga builds endurance and strength, but is more relaxing than physical education class, Deroche said. “P.E.’s a lot more running. It’s not relaxing. There’s a lot more screaming.”

Kelly Chavez, also a fifth-grader in Koch’s class, said yoga makes her feel peaceful.

According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, yoga can increase general health, reduce stress, improve flexibility and muscle strength and alleviate certain physical symptoms, such as chronic pain.

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