Wake County elementary school principal hopes yoga pays off in classroom

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Wake County elementary school principal is hoping yoga pays off in the classroom.

Once a week, every student at Wake County's new year-round Parkside Elementary School in Morrisville will kick off their shoes and do some downward dog.

Principal Teresa Caswell said the 40-minute yoga class is the first of its kind in Wake County.

"One of the things that I really wanted to do was to bring in the ideas of strength and flexibility and mindfulness to our students," Caswell said.

When she welcomed the 720 students to Parkside this week, Ms. Ingalls's yoga class was part of their regular school day.

"The expectations are so much higher on the kids," said Michelle Ingalls, who's been an educator for 22 years. "When I taught kindergarten 13 years ago, there was still play centers and nap time and all that is not there anymore."

Instead of "namaste," Ingalls instructs her class to recite the word "seek" at the end of their yoga flow, which stands for Safe, Engaged, Empowered, and Kind.

"It's not at all a religious thing it's just teaching the kids to be mindful, living in the moment, not worrying about everything else that's going to be happening to them throughout the day," Ingalls said.

Caswell said the state allots money for enhancement classes such as art, music, and P.E.; beyond that, it's up to the principal which other "specials" programs are added.

Caswell chose yoga as a second physical education class, hiring Ingalls who was already P.E. certified and now, trained in kids yoga.

"There's also a lot of research about mindfulness and student reflection and how that can support their learning throughout the day," Caswell said.

So far, Caswell said she has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents.
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