A Columbus East High School counselor is helping students relieve stress through yoga.

The program, known as Providing Options for Mindfulness, is designed to help students relax and develop flexibility, said Andy Taube, who has been leading the weekly after-school program Thursdays in the library since the beginning of the school year.

Taube was awarded a $2,600 grant from the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation in the spring which he used to purchase yoga mats and other equipment.

Taube’s venture into yoga began when he was 17 living on the south side of Chicago participating in a leadership program meant to get high school students involved in community service that also focused on self-care.

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“As I got deeper in practicing the physical aspect, I started to notice whenever I did yoga, I felt a lot more calm,” Taube said.

He also found that yoga was a good way for him to relieve stress in college. Yoga is not only beneficial to a person’s health, but can also increase flexibility and muscle strength and help a person focus better, he said.

“I found that yoga was a huge tool to relax,” he said. “Yoga within itself has lots of different levels that are designed to be accessible to people of all different levels.”

The program, which begins with warmups and then progresses into different stretches and poses, is popular.

Samantha Quillen, a freshman at East, said she hadn’t done yoga before joining Taube’s program and has found it to be a big stress reliever.

“It’s like a vacation … and you stay here, you feel calm and relaxed,” she said.

Darrien Johnson-Dey, an East senior, was looking for somewhere to do yoga as part of his training for track during the off-season.

“I thought I might as well give it a shot,” Johnson-Dey said. “This is nice off-season training.”

The program has helped loosen his tight hamstrings and has also allowed him to be more flexible, he said. He has encouraged other athletes to consider joining him at the sessions.

Jaelyn Carmer, also an East senior, said the yoga sessions are a good opportunity to get away from her busy schedule that includes working two jobs, taking three college classes and managing her senior project.

“I like coming here because it helps me de-stress,” she said. “It really helps me not focus on anything else.”

Taube said he hopes students will take away techniques that may help them in the future.

“If they’re dealing with a lot of stress at home or with their friends, I want them to be able to develop a technique, an exercise or pose that will help them feel a little more calm,” he said. “I think they’re going to find one thing, whether it’s a breathing strategy, physical movement or the experience of relaxing after a long day, that this can help them live a better life.”

Benefits of yoga

The physical benefits of yoga include:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Maintaining a balanced metabolism
  • Weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Protection from injury

It can also help a person manage stress and improve a person’s well-being.

Source: American Osteopathic Association

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com