Every quarter Namaste chooses a local non-profit organization to support as part of our SEVA program by raising awareness and donating our mat rental revenue. This quarter we are proud to partner with the RISE Yoga for Youth organization. RISE empowers adolescents to be agents of change in the world. Through the physical practice of yoga, wellness education, and community building, students develop inner resources to respond to life’s challenges in constructive ways.
RISE offers a comprehensive education in hatha yoga for high school students, which includes instruction in physical postures, mindfulness, and breathing practices, as well as a series of life skills workshops on non-violence, self-esteem, anger management, conflict resolution, nutrition, drugs and healthy relationships. Unique to the program is a focus on teambuilding activities designed to help students explore their relationships with themselves, each other and their communities.
Meet Sophia Corbett, a RISE Yoga for Youth Teacher at George Washington High School in San Francisco. Here she describes her observations of what yoga has done for her students and why she thinks it’s so important to bring yoga to more youth.
At the beginning of the school year, watching, listening to my students in seated relaxation, I didn’t know how it would be possible to get them to sit still and be quiet. They fidgeted, made obnoxious noises, shouted out at times and were just typical teenagers, trying to get a laugh. Fast forward to May, about 8 months after practicing yoga , 4 days a week, and I saw the transformation. We had decided to start our practice out on the back field that day, as it was beautiful out, and had invited a 9th grade PE class to join us for a little intro to yoga. As my students sat in a large circle in seated relaxation, in the middle of the field, the PE classes started to file out onto the track, noisily running around the field we sat on. And I looked at my students, serenely breathing, eyes closed, bodies still and I knew they had been transformed. That they had developed the ability to find peace among chaos, through the gift of yoga. I welled up with joy and gratitude.
Its important to bring yoga to youth because it provides them incredible life skills. The ability to control one’s emotions, to respond instead of react, to listen to one’s body, and find inner peace amongst a often chaotic world, are priceless skills that are not taught anywhere else in schools (in my observation). Students walk away with an invaluable sense of self-efficacy, that helps provide them the confidence that they can handle any situation, as long as they breathe.