Yoga, meditation prove successful in Medford classroom

Medford, Ore. — Students at Oak Grove Elementary School in west Medford come from diverse backgrounds. Some are in foster care, others are homeless. But despite the challenges some of them may face at home, teachers and staff have found a unique way to improve the health and mental well-being of all their students while in the classroom.

On any given Thursday, before the bell has even rung, Oak Grove Elementary School students take a few minutes to be mindful.

“Life can be stressful,” Oak Grove Elementary School Principal, Liz Landon says, “so how do we teach our students and ourselves [to] just release that, and be more present?”

The answer, Oak Grove found was in yoga, for both the body and the brain.

To some, it was a dramatically different approach, that was met with a little skepticism.

“I thought it was kind of a little bit weird,” 4th grader, Eden Rux says.

But after some practice, that approach was soon producing some dramatically different kids.

“It feels relaxing,” 4th grader Ericka Faris says.

“Calm,” 5th grader Jacob Santos says, “very calm.”

“It actually does help,” Rux adds.

“Our attendance rate is the best it’s ever been,” Landson says, “our kids are coming, and they’re ready and eager to be here.”

In many classrooms, the mindful games take just a minute. But after a few squats, or some deep breathes, students and teachers, are finding a minute of mindfulness, sets them up for a day of success.

“You can do math, and you can read,” Rux says, “It’s just good to have something that you can actually rely on to be relaxed.

“I know I won’t be so frustrated when I do all my work,” Faris adds.

“They are able to come to school and be focused,” Landon says, “you are doing something that is powerful and noteworthy, and I would encourage anyone to try it, why not?”

Since the start of mindful moments, referrals for disciplinary action have decreased at the school significantly. The principal says students are sharing the practice with their families, and the faculty  have even incorporated it into their staff meetings.

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