Suffield's state-of-the-art healthy lifestyle center is called “The Balance Barn.” It is located next to the Courtney Robinson ’88 Leadership Center.
Inspired by the vision of Hillary Rockwell Cahn ’88, the barn offers yoga and mindfulness classes, and a quiet lounge for reflection. It houses a series of programs for every student—those familiar with these activities and those with no previous exposure. It is about helping people be more balanced and mindful. Each 9th-Grade leadership class pursues activities in the Balance Barn, and several athletic teams do yoga in the space. Classes and programs are offered to the entire community on weekends and in evenings and early mornings.
According to Psychology Today Yoga practice helps teens in several ways:
Improve fitness and physical health Students participating in yoga develop a strong connection to body awareness and movement. The poses help improve coordinate, balance, strength, and flexibility.
Reduce stress and anxiety High school can be a stressful period with both academic and personal challenges. Yoga, through breath and awareness, provides space to step back and regulate your response to stress in a calm and thoughtful manner.
Improve optimism Studies have shown that yoga can help build a sense of optimism. During a time when children and teens are looking toward their future, yoga can build a sense of hopefulness for the future.
Improve focus and school performance Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common developmental disorders in children and adolescents and affects 1 in 10 children. Studies have found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who practiced yoga once or twice weekly can improve their behavior as well as school performance.
Improve self-esteem and body image High school can be a formative time in which teens often struggle with body image issues, peer pressure, and bullying. Yoga creates an accepting and safe environment, rooted in the principle of non-judgment. The practice helps you feel more connected to and accepting of your body.
Encourage creativity Yoga encourages creativity and playfulness, developing not just physical flexibility but flexibility of the mind as well.
Develop discipline and self-regulation Yoga that is taught with mindfulness has significant advantages over traditional physical activity. Yoga has been found to reduce impulsivity, increase patience, and improve the ability to regulate attention. Yoga and mindfulness provide teens with skills to navigate challenges and build a core foundation that benefits both the mind and body well beyond teenage years.