The Circle Voice

Counseling’s New Yoga Initiative

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As the yellow light of the side room in the wellness center turned off, eight people sat cross-legged on soft blocks, breathing softly while stretching their hands over their heads. Groton held its first yoga and meditation session of the year on October 24. As the calendar turns its page to November, Groton students grow anxious as tests and quizzes pile up and exams approach. In this tense atmosphere, the counseling office provides multiple activities to relieve stress, starting with the yoga and meditation initiative.

        The peer counselors have organized yoga sessions in the past, but this year’s initiative is unique that it emphasizes mindfulness and takes place in the wellness center. Meditative yoga is very different from athletic yoga, since its purpose is to calm, rather than to provide a workout. Through these activities, Wellness Coordinator Barbara Cheeks and yoga instructor Samantha Goodrich are attempting to establish a place where students can let go of work-related stress to maintain better mental and physical health.

With more than 17 years of experience with general yoga and 11 years of teaching meditative yoga, Mrs. Goodrich has stepped up as the wellness center’s yoga instructor. She has worked with various social groups, such as incarcerated people, business managers, and students from different age groups. These unique experiences strengthened her skill in soothing the mind and body. Through combining her yoga practices with her calming voice with soothing background music, she hopes to help people look internally.

“People always thought meditation is to think of nothing,” Mrs. Goodrich pointed out, “but it is a misconception. Meditation is to focus on this moment, achieve mindfulness, and learn more about yourself.” Mrs. Goodrich likewise says that these wellness center-sponsored yoga sessions force participants to not think about school or work, thus clearing their minds and acknowledging what is happening at the moment.

Although some faculty and staff members have shown interest in joining the group, the yoga sessions are currently only open to students. The reason behind this choice is that the wellness center is deeply committed towards making the yoga experience personal to high school students. “It wouldn’t feel the same if your English teacher [sat] right beside you,” explained Mrs. Cheeks. In addition, sessions will take place on different days of the week to make the workshop accessible to all the students.

The feedback from all those who attended the first session was positive. “It was fun. You should go,” Ian Bayliss ’22 stated. One student even went as far as writing a thank you email to Mrs. Cheeks mentioning how much he enjoyed the session. As it shows, the session gave the students a good relaxation.

After a couple more successful yoga gatherings, Mrs. Goodrich plans to lead another meditative activity with essential oils, in which students will mix different scented oils and find the ones that they can benefit from. For example, the lavender smell is thought to improve sleep quality, while the orange smell increases focus.

        As the counseling office continues to work hard to destress students, many Groton students will continue to benefit from this new yoga initiative.

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