Breath takingAt Rosemount High School, students can start the day with a little relaxation
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
The floor-exercise mat in Rosemount High School’s gymnastics gym is typically the site of high-energy flips and tumbles. But on Wednesday mornings the scene is a whole lot calmer. Students stretch. They breathe. They relax.
The sessions, called Breath and Breakfast, are led by RHS counselor Denise Cochran. They’re a habit she brought back from a two-year leave of absence she spent living in India. Cochran said she wanted to provide a way for students to deal with the stresses that come with daily high school life.
“It’s a little bit of just sitting silent and just focusing on breath, trying to clear the brain of all of the things we’re worried about,” Cochran said.
From 6:45 to 7:15, Cochran leads whatever students want to show up through yoga poses and other stretching and breathing exercises. She also talks with students about letting go of the things that are bothering them and living in the present.
“If they’ve got any bad feelings about what happened the day before – they could be worrying about college acceptance. I’m like, ‘Stop that. Remember, all you should be thinking about right now is period one.’”
When they’re done, Cochran sends students on their way with a healthy breakfast. One week she made smoothies for the students. Another morning she had humus and crackers.
Cochran said the exercises she’s been teaching students have made a big difference for her in dealing with stressful situations. When she got an upsetting phone call a few weeks ago, she closed her door and did five minutes of deep breathing and she could feel her heartbeat returning to normal.
Early on, attendance at the sessions has light but steady. Cochran hasn’t done much advertising other than a notice in the school’s announcements and a few signs outside the school’s physical education classrooms, but the first week she had six students show up. There were four the second week and three for the third and fourth sessions.
One of Cochran’s biggest surprises has been the makeup of the classes. Three of the participants in the first session were boys, and in the third week all three participants were boys.
“I was floored,” Cochran said. “What I figured would happen was, it would be my students. My girls who have anxiety.
“When the first week happened and it was three boys, I was like, Oh my, this is so cool.”
Madison Bredt and Kyla Bills were return visitors at the Feb. 8 session. They brought along friend Patty Hogan was there for the first time. All three said the class has made a difference in their day.
“I liked that in the morning you can kind of just relax and then go to your classes, which is nice all day because you’re already relieved of your stress you had this morning,” Bills said.
Hogan, the newcomer, said the session helped clear some of the stress from her mind.
“Some of the things seem a little weird, but it’s fun and it works,” she said.