It was “Namaste Friday” on October 19 at Westfield High School. Students in Health 12 participated in a yoga class as part of their on-going stress management unit. Instructor Rachel Cavanna, a certified Yoga instructor from of Satsang Yoga Studio on South Avenue in Westfield, led the class. Exposing students to yoga has been an on-going initiative of the Health Education Department.

Susan Kolesar, one of the health educators at the high school said, “We really want to give students an opportunity see Yoga as not only a form of stress reduction but also a form of exercise that they can practice throughout their life.  Many of them will not have the opportunity to continue with the sports they have depended on for exercise once they graduate.

Both Satsang and Alluem in Cranford generously extend all of our seniors passes for a free yoga class so they can take the experience beyond the classroom and to the studio.”

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Ms. Cavanagh thanked the students for approaching the class with an open mind and willingness to try something new as most of the students had never taken a yoga class. Westfield High School Senior Alex Kapadia, who had prior experience with yoga, said, “I practiced hot yoga as part of my training for swimming. In a sport all about speed, it was nice to slow down and stretch.” She added that she attributes yoga to improving her athletic performance.

Senior Courtney Han practices yoga once a week as part of her training for the school’s cross country team. She said, “It’s relaxing after really pushing myself in practice. It lets me calm down.” 

When asked what teens should understand about the benefits of yoga, Ms. Cavanna said, “It teaches them to slow down in this fast-paced world that’s only getting faster. It allows them to connect with their breath and who they are at their core. The benefits of yoga go way beyond the physical. Tapping into that at a young age has exponential benefits.” 

Westfield High School’s Comprehensive Health Education Program includes topics which include wellness promotion and stress management.