KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A group of focused fourth graders recently sat in a circle on yoga mats at Academy For Integrated Arts, a Kansas City charter school.
“Take an inhale,” Isaac Collins said. “Good.”
Collins started out mainly as an instructor for a nonprofit group called Superhero Yoga, but his focus now is on finding more teachers so the program can expand to more schools.
Right now, Collins said 200 kids take Superhero Yoga each week at AFIA. Superhero Yoga hopes to be in its second school next year.
The organization pays the yoga instructors but offers the classes at no charge to the school.
“It is very calm and quiet and peaceful,” fourth grader Cydni Swinton said. Her favorite pose is the airplane, and she even does yoga at home. Cydni said yoga has helped her take tests.
“I just went out to do some yoga poses to get my brain working and it actually worked. It helped me get it right,” she said.
Aatyis Cain, 10, said he thought yoga was boring before he tried it.
“I think it’s fun, and it helps. It actually helps people,” he said, adding that it helped him with a test.
“Last year when I did the map test, it was long and hard,” he said. “It helped me because our teacher said we could stand up at any time and stretch and I usually like to touch my toes and do three deep breaths.
“It just sends all the stress through my brain and down the bottom of my feet.”
Tricia DeGraff, executive director of AFIA, said she sees the yoga helping students.
“The way that I know that it's working is I see students stop and ask, ‘Can I do a yoga pose?'" she said.
Superhero Yoga will host Spirit and Soul, a fundraiser with outdoor yoga and live music, on Wednesday at the Union Hill Cemetery. For more details, visit superheroyoga.org .