In the cafeteria at Ware East Texas Montessori Academy, students can be found quietly breathing, stretching and focusing on positive affirmations such as “I am awesome” or “I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

Students in third through fifth grades at the Longview ISD school are learning yoga with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent for Gregg County Arvitta Scott.

Scott said she spends time working with the children on relaxation, focus, posture and positive thinking. She also works with children at Ned E. Williams Elementary School.

“The main thing is getting those kids to learn how to stretch and how to release tension, especially in their upper torso, lower back from sitting. Sometimes they sit for long periods of time,” she said. “I talk to them about how to do brain break activities at their chair, to bring the mind back into focus. We talk about good sitting posture and good standing posture so they can get good oxygen flow to the brain, because that’s what stimulates and helps us to think.”

Fifth-grader Seth Ayala said the poses they do actually relax their bodies.

“It makes me calmer, and then I don’t get stressed going into tests,” he said.

Scott said she started the program at Ware last year and noticed the students get anxious preparing for the State of Texas Assessments for Academic Readiness.

“They don’t want to fail,” she said. “Trying to study, trying to get those projects done, get homework done. And we don’t know what’s going on at home, and sometimes kids go through trauma and stress. That’s what we’re teaching them — is how to release stress.”

Eventually, she notices a difference in the children’s ability to clear their heads, Scott said.

Layla Hill, 10, is another fifth-grader who is learning yoga.

“It makes you really calm, and you can just release all the stress that you have,” she said.

Children learning yoga can have some of the same benefits as adults doing yoga, Scott said.

“Doing yoga for kids, that gives them a positive way of dealing with stress,” she said. “I think that’s important that they learn early how to deal with stressful situations or a situation that may make them nervous.”