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Rye Elementary School Students Embrace Yoga

RYE, N.Y. – It might seem like elementary school students wouldn’t trade their half-hour of recess for anything, but 60 third grade students at the Osborn School in Rye have traded a weeks worth of recess to become one of Ms. Gail Topol's "yogis."

The program, which is new this year, divides the children into three groups of 20 and offers them five 40-minute sessions of specialized yoga instruction.

"Yoga for kids is not just about posture, it integrates theater games and relaxation," Topol said. "It's about creating peace and relaxation within the busy school day, and it's also a lot of fun."

Although the yoga program at Osborn is new this year, Topol said she started bringing yoga into her classroom four years ago to create an alternative form of expression for her students.

"I saw a need for some children to express themselves through movement," Topol said. "Every child expresses themselves differently."

Topol, a certified practitioner for children’s yoga, integrates aspects of the curriculum like geometry and geography into her yoga sessions. Although Topol said that yoga for children has emerged in the past decade or so, she stressed that the program would not have been possible if it wasn't for Principal Clarita Zeppie, who is retiring after this year.

"I used to offer a class for teachers that combined yoga and Pilates, and Clarita would come to those," Topol said. "She has always been supportive of this, and a lot of thanks goes to her."

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