Students stretch away stress with new morning yoga, meditation sessions

Sep 28, 2017

Sixth graders can start each day feeling a little more zen, thanks to a morning routine called Power of Intention that just rolled out at Wareham Middle School.

Power of Intention was developed by Wareham Middle School teacher Nichole Stahmer, who leads the yoga and meditation session for 15 minutes at the beginning of each day. Students can choose to go to the morning session rather than sitting in their homerooms.

Stahmer said starting the day with mindfulness and stretches helps reduce anxiety and stress when students first get to school. They can wipe away some concerns of outside environmental stresses and start class with a clean slate.

"You can tell some of them really need it," Stahmer said.

The session is not graded and is very casual, keeping it low-stress for students.

“We don’t take enough care of children’s social and emotional needs,” Stahmer said. She believes if that happens, students will be better prepared to learn.

Power of Intention began three weeks ago with only about five students, but it has grown to almost 30 and more arrive every day.

The students have been enthusiastic about Power of Intention so far. They roll out yoga mats in a circle with Stahmer, eager to try the poses and chime in “namaste” at the end of the session.

“It helps me relax if I’m stressed in the morning,” said Madison Nereu, 11, who looks forward to Power of Intention each day. “If I’m tired, it wakes me up. And I like seeing my friends who aren’t in my classes.”

The sixth graders are seeing results already. Some who struggled with complicated yoga poses three weeks ago are now successfully completing them. Most students are trying yoga for the first time, including Alexia Gonsalves, 11, who said Power of Intention gives her morning a boost.

“It shows just 15 minutes a day can have an impact and it shows the power of setting small, achievable goals,” Stahmer said. She hopes students will implement these habits into their academic and personal lives.

Along with leading the stretches with peaceful music in the background, Stahmer has a brief time of meditation using “intentions,” or goals for the students. On Mondays, she focuses on being kind to oneself. On Tuesdays, kindness to others is the goal. During Thursday morning’s session, Stahmer told students to think about other people’s emotions throughout the day.

“I don’t just tell them to live good, healthy lives,” Stahmer said. “I actually model it.”