Students seek stress relief in popular yoga classes


Mark Lomas

Morgan Eddy leads students through a yoga and meditation sequence. The yoga program has grown to more than 160 students.

Desiree Barrera, Life & Style Co-Editor

During the pandemic Akins Early College High School became the second high school within Austin ISD to add yoga as an elective class thanks to dance teacher Morgan Eddy.

She pitched the idea to the previous Fine Arts Department director, and it was soon approved to start in the 2020-2021 school year. Since the yoga program started a lot of students have had nothing but positive feedback about the class. It has proven to not only help students learn about the physical aspects of yoga but the mental aspects, as well.

Eddy surveyed her students to learn more about what they like about it and she shared some of them with The Eagle’s Eye.

“It has helped me to become a more hardworking student because it has showed me that things are not to be stressed over but rather endured and dealt with,” senior Amanda Barajas said.

Eddy said she thinks there are several reasons why yoga classes are well liked by students.

I think it is because it is a class where students get to relax,” she said. “Yes, we do physical activity that can be challenging on the body. But we also take time to relax, let go of stress, and learn different ways to cope with stress.”

Some students have misconceptions about what yoga is when they start in the class, believing it is only about meditating or stretching. Students discuss false conceptions about yoga, including the fact that yoga is not a religion but rather a philosophy and lifestyle that focuses on improving the mindfulness of practitioners. They also learn about the history of yoga, dispelling misconceptions that it is only an activity for women.

Yoga has been amazing. The positive impacts yoga has made is that I am more calm because I use a lot of breathing exercises,” freshman Joshbriel Moreno said. “It has helped me with school because I am more focused after I get out of yoga class. It helps me personally since I play a lot of sports and stretching prevents me from having cramps.”

Eddy said the Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy magnet school is the only one other school that offers yoga in Austin ISD. She said while it is a rare class to have in schools, she believes it is necessary to offer it to all grade levels. Yoga counts as a Fine Arts credit.

Eddy, who also teaches JV dance class, said the first year of the yoga program was during the pandemic, so It was all virtual (just like all other classes). She started out with around 160 students, and now she has about the same number with five different class periods full of yoga students.

Eddy said she has personally benefited form practicing yoga.

“As I have grown into adulthood, I have experienced more anxiety and major life-events that have caused more stress on me mentally,” she said. “I started doing yoga for its mental benefits, as it is as much (if not more) of a mental practice as it is a physical practice,” Eddy said. “I wanted to share this with my students, as they are moving into adulthood. yoga teaches you how to remain present in the moment, be more responsive than reactive, and gives you mindfulness tools to help you in stressful times.”