Yoga Club: Breaking High School Boundaries and Spreading Acceptance
Writing this article is something we never imagined we would be doing. We can’t help but think back to a year ago when we were building Skyline Yoga club from the ground up, sitting at this same kitchen table in Emma’s house. As we tried to focus on the logistics, as well as designing the best posters possible, we were unsure about how it would all play out. All we knew is that we wanted to do more yoga, and if possible, make yoga more accessible to our peers.
Yoga club met for the first time on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014. We would be lying if we said the club was immediately popular. The first few meetings were very poorly attended, one of which only included the founders. Still, we managed to keep our spirits high, celebrating every new student who trickled through our doors. We quickly realized that a big part of why more students weren’t doing yoga was related to cost of equipment. Every student with an extra mat donated it to live in a communal yoga club locker (Lauren’s Band locker). At every meeting, the mats were taken out, and available for any student who needed them. Students were always encouraged to participate despite their attire, or their ability. Every class was “all levels welcome” and yoga club became a very judgment free zone. By November we had a few regular attendees, and our average class held about 10 students, not including the instructor or founding members. We were also becoming very immersed in many different kinds of yoga. We managed to bring in volunteer instructors who introduced us to diverse styles of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikrim, and Kundalini. We also hosted instructors for pilates, Zumba, and light-weight cardio.
Despite these unique experiences and opportunities, the more impressive outcome of yoga club was something neither of us expected. Yoga club’s population seemed to draw from many different groups around our high school. We had members from drama club, the Gay Straight Alliance, swim team, Soccer, Basketball, and even the football team. It’s impossible to ignore the reality that this diverse set of students wouldn’t normally spend time together. Throughout the year we started to notice the community forming. Across all grade levels, students were more than willing to talk to each other, and support their fellow classmates. Yoga club provided a special place for students to receive friendship and mentoring from their older peers. It also translated outside of our studio (the band room), where students would chat in the halls and other classes. Yoga club spread quickly with the aid of social media and word of mouth. It became Skyline’s best kept secret.
With numbers growing, yoga club became much more involved in the Skyline community. On numerous occasions we were asked to provide services at school events, including a fundraiser for Make-a-Wish and a community Trick or Treat night. On both occasions yoga club members spent the evening painting children’s faces, and helping run the event. These events provided yoga club with the opportunity to give back. It also helped our students become more involved in the community around them.
What began as a fun past time became an opportunity for students to grow as individuals. High school is a very trying time. Students are constantly being bombarded with responsibilities including homework, jobs, extracurriculars, and social stresses. During a crucial period of personal exploration the littlest things make the biggest difference. It is important for students to have healthy outlets to help lessen daily stressors in a positive manner. Yoga club allowed students to become more mindful and self-confident. It also helped students achieve greater focus in and out of the classroom. Overall, yoga club provided a place where high school students could easily take a relaxing break from their daily lives, and come back refreshed.
Unfortunately, we only got one year with our little yoga club. All of the founding members have since graduated, but we are leaving the club in the more-than capable hands of some of our most committed attendees. They have already contacted a major studio in town, and have organized summer yoga activities. We are excited to watch from our separate colleges how they make the club grow.
Emma Creighton is a current student at the University of Kansas who regularly practices yoga, usually her favorite style of Bikram. One hot summer day, Emma and her best friend Lauren Bade decided on a whim to start a yoga club at their former high school Skyline, with the hopes to bring people together. A year later, the club is still going strong with new student leaders and Emma’s own personal practice of yoga has grown stronger.