SMA Expands Curriculum to Include Yoga
It’s been two years since Adrianne (Ajax) Jackson opened the doors to Magnolia Yoga Studio on Basin Street. Driven by the desire “to support growth, healing, and empowerment through the art of yoga and community,” she is the first African-American to open a yoga studio in New Orleans.
Now this dynamic young woman is making history once again by offering students at St. Mary’s Academy the opportunity to benefit from this ancient practice. This year, she is leading classes twice a week at the school, thanks to a partnership between the Magnolia Yoga Studio and funding from SMA alumna Jasmin Bindom.
For 50 minutes, twice a week, Ajax puts students through a series of breathing exercises, stretching and flexibility routines, creative visualization, and movements to improve balance and focus. According to Ajax, there are tremendous benefits that students can derive from yoga
“Yoga can help us tremendously take our health and power back,” said Ajax adding that the practice can also reduce, reverse and completely eliminate a wide range of issues including asthma, stress, insomnia, depression and anxiety. ““I learned that yoga not only treats many of those things but it also prevents them as well.”
For senior Daria Ball, the class came at the most opportune time. “I was very excited to learn that the school would be offering yoga as a class and I signed up right away,” said Ball adding that participation in the class has been both advantageous and rewarding. ”As a senior, there is additional stress to do well in my classes and yoga has helped me focus and find balance.”
Likewise freshmen Savana Frazier also extols the benefits of yoga and looks forward to her classes each week. “I feel great and more positive now that I have started practicing yoga,” said Frazier. “The course is helping me to achieve more internal peace.”
Research suggests that school-based yoga cultivates competencies in mind-body awareness, self-regulation, and physical fitness. Improvements have also been noted in students’ behavior, mental state, health, and performance.
“In a yoga class, one gets this golden opportunity to reflect, reorganize and remember what is really important, who we really are and what we really aspire for ourselves as a collective and as individuals,” said Ajax who is intent on getting yoga to more people. “The ultimate goal is to educate the community on the benefits of yoga and to provide accessibility.”