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Desert Vista yoga instructor gives students new ways to balance stress and relaxation

Students at Desert Vista High School have a chance to learn and teach a several-thousand-year-old discipline focused on health wellness, and it’s catching their attention.

Amanda Goe, a Desert Vista teacher since 2005, has been the school’s one-and-only yoga instructor for the past seven years. Now, her new Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) course is offering high school students the opportunity to put their yoga knowledge to use out in the world.

“My largest passion is wellness,” Goe said. “So, mental, physical, emotional, taking care of the earth, sustainability.”

Goe said Eastern medicine has a role to play in Western culture, where too often prescription drugs and other resources treat symptoms but not causes.

“The goal is to find the underlying cause and then handle that underlying cause so that you have complete wellness,” she said.

A world-traveler, Goe said the more she learns about the world and the people in it, the better she feels. She first found her lifelong passion for yoga at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA), where she learned about the ancient discipline’s background and history.

Goe started at Desert Vista teaching health classes, but the end of the school’s driver education program made room on the roster for a new one-semester class — Goe suggested introductory yoga, and it “just clicked.”

“It just seemed like the next logical step in growth — personal growth, growth for the school, the students,” Goe said. “The program became so popular that we added advanced yoga. And then, in advanced yoga, we started having teaching units. So the Thunder Tikes, our preschool kids, would come. And the Thunder Buddies, our peers who are in self-contained special education classes would come, and my students would teach them. And seeing what amazing teachers my students were becoming, it seemed like a good and appropriate step.”

Through Goe’s efforts, a YTT track was born at Desert Vista. Goe is certified by the national Yoga Alliance to teach YTT, and students leave the class with certification of their own. The 2018 fall class has 23 students.

“Yoga has honestly transformed my life in that, just by practicing — even if you don’t put that much work into it — you manage your stress better,” Goe said. “You start to see things, handle things differently, manage your energy, your mindfulness in general. Yoga, I would say, is ingrained in every piece of my life.”

The students feel much the same way. Some already have plans to practice and teach yoga in college and beyond, both as a means of income and a relaxing hobby.

“It definitely helps with stress,” said Jessica McDaniel, a junior at Desert Vista and one of Goe’s YTT students.

McDaniel said she used to practice yoga with her great grandmother, who is a yoga instructor, and now she loves starting her day in yoga class, where the YTT students are “like a family.” She said she plans to teach yoga as a side job during college.

Once students complete the 200-hour YTT certification and register with the Yoga Alliance, they will be able to teach at gyms, nursing homes, schools and more.

“I hope to keep the mindfulness that we learn about in class and to just always remember to take some time for myself, and to center myself before I give out to the world and lend my knowledge,” McDaniel said.

Ava Jones, a senior in the YTT class, said she had tried yoga with her sister as a child, but it didn’t last long after she realized she couldn’t reach her toes.

“It’s one of my favorite classes here at DV,” Jones said. “It’s one of my favorite things to do even as a pastime, especially with Ms. Goe. I think she really made this class very lovable, and it’s a very unique class.”

Jones said pranayamas, or breathing techniques, and shavasanas, a form of meditation, help her deal with outside conflicts.

“For me personally, it’s been something that can easily apply in other classes,” Jones said. “If I’m stressed or I don’t know what to do, I have my pranayamas. I have meditation to think on what I should do to help improve myself.”

Mikenzie Hammel, also a senior, said her first experience with yoga was when she took Goe’s introductory yoga course as a freshman. This year, the YTT class was a necessity.

“I made room in my schedule for it my senior year because I loved the way I felt, I loved the mindset I was in when I was doing it, I just felt better over all,” Hammel said. “I love that I’m able to take a leadership role and teach little kids and special needs students, and I think we’re even going to be able to teach the staff here at Desert Vista, and even my fellow classmates. So I love that aspect of it.”

Hammel said yoga helps her focus better in her other classes and extracurricular activities.

“I am in cross country, so the extra stretching and relaxation kind of brings me back to my center,” Hammel said. “And I’m also in choir so the pranayamas, the breathing, helps with lung capacity, so I’m able to sing better as well.”

Hammel said she wants to use the YTT certification to get a job in college so she can spread her yoga knowledge.

“You know, peace and positivity,” Hammel said. “So I feel like, not only will it help me, but I can help others with it as well.”

Graham Bosch

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