Students at Masera Learning Center aren’t sitting at desks when 10 a.m. rolls around. Instead, they’re on their backs, doing yoga, to get ready to learn. Masera Learning Center (MLC) is an Eastern Suffolk BOCES school that provides special education services to elementary and middle school students with special needs.
MLC is working with a program called Get Ready to Learn (GRTL) to bring yoga to its students. The program helps bring the benefits of yoga and mindfulness to the classroom, enabling students to be more present during their lessons. Yoga is done in the classroom and led by an instructor who accompanies a narrated video. Before the class starts, the desks are moved out of the way, and the students grab their very own yoga mat, which is provided by the school.
“We’re finding that all students are benefitting from the yoga practice, even the students who may not be able to do yoga because of a severe disability,” said Lisa Newcomb, teacher coordinator at MLC. “We dim the lights during class and play soft music, and we’re seeing they benefit from that. It’s helping them be more mindful, retain more information during class, and reduce their anxiety.”
In addition to the mental health benefits, yoga also provides an opportunity for students to develop their gross motor skills and provides an outlet for them to release pent-up energy. MLC is looking to expand yoga across their school so more students are able to benefit from the healing benefits of the practice.