Adequately prepare students for college by expanding academic programs and increasing educational resources. Check. Construct a building that will support these improvements. Check. Improve the lives of students through yoga. A big, bold, and underlined check thanks to Anne Stamps.
Known as the Assistant Athletic Director for Morgan County High School (MCHS) and Coach Stamps to her high school Health and Physical Education students, Stamps’ takes her dedication to enhancing the well-being of her students a bit further through the life-vitalizing instruction of yoga.
After only two weeks of class at Madison’s Infinite Warrior Yoga in March 2017, Stamps was “hooked”.
“I had been involved in athletics and fitness my entire life and I had never experienced anything like yoga,” Stamps raved. “It was the most non-judgmental activity I had ever done and I learned something different about my body every time I got on my mat…As a coach and Assistant Athletic Director, my mind is never very far from the athletes at MCHS. When I began to see the positive changes in my body, I know we had to bring this to our athletes and to as many students at MCHS that I could.”
So, following her Yoga Teacher certification in December of 2017 and Administration’s approval, Stamps began the journey of introducing the body changing effects of yoga to students and teachers alike.
High school athletes (soccer, cross country, cheerleaders, football, baseball, and softball), self-contained special education classes, 9th grade P.E. classes, high school and elementary school teachers and the county-wide school cafeteria staff have all participated, some regularly, in Stamps’ yoga instruction.
Just this 2018-19 school year, Yoga has been included as an elective for high school students with the current class holding about 25 students.
Practicing yoga regularly has been proven to benefit the body’s health in over 35 ways, and is accessible to any and all body types bringing anyone who takes on the journey body awareness.
For MCHS athletes, these benefits yield high and safer performance in sports; the balance will help them to be lighter on their feet while the flexibility reduces the chances of injury.
“In practicing yoga, you develop flexibility, balance, and strength; so many athletes are never taught the importance of developing all three, equally,” the coach stated. “Being able to control your breathing gives any person an advantage mentally and physically. If I can teach a student athlete how to breathe through pressure, anxiety, or even anger, that can be a game changer for them.”
Stamps found that practicing a meditation form of yoga called Nidra with students who are specially educated not only relaxed them tremendously, even those who are hyperactive, but caused them to be alert and attentive afterwards.
“I was blown away,” Stamps admitted. “I asked them to lay on the mat and we just started ith some simple breathing techniques…When we finished Yoga Nidra, we went out into the gym and played a game. The kids were as focused as I had ever seen them for the next 45 minutes in P.E. It was an awesome thing to witness.”
“Yoga has been life changing for me,” Stamps said. “I know it is something that I will do for the rest of my life and I just want to share it with anyone who will listen…Yoga isn’t about flexibility, its about your journey on the mat. Everyime you practice you will get stronger, more flexible, and learn more about controlling your breath but all of those things are just a result of showing up for yourself… I hope that through teaching students yoga at MCHS, they will leave my class with a more balanced body, but more importantly, I hope they leave my class with a balanced mind.”