SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — This year, a focus on mental health and reducing anxiety for students is key with increased stress due to the pandemic. Due to the added stress of the pandemic some schools in our area are implementing yoga and mindfulness.

“When you know the benefits of yoga, and the benefits of breathing techniques and mindfulness you can take care of that self care,” Meg Duffy, principal at John Adams and Charles Sumner Elementary Schools told Eyewitness News.

Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit-19 is partnering with Yoga West to help students take care of their mental health while in school. They’re making it more accessible to families by doing the yoga instruction virtually.

“Due to the fact that most schools are going back virtually or doing hybrid programs, Sumner Elementary and Adams Elementary will be pulling me in to do live sessions and pre recorded virtually for the children,” said Kelly Evans, the owner of Yoga West.

Yoga instructors, including Evans, say virtual yoga is a tool that can keep students stay calm and focused.

“It always starts with ourselves,” she said. “How we’re treating ourselves, how we’re communicating with ourselves, how we are personally feeling, we’re going to project on to the rest of the world. Ideally we all want to feel amazing.”

Dawn Vinciguerra is a parent who understands the importance of yoga.

“Especially now with schools going online and hybrid, I think it’s good to have the opportunity to un-plug, to center and ground and just come into yourself and focus on breathe and be able to relax and get away from all of that for a little bit,” Vinciguerra said.

Student Jocelyn Vinciguerra has been incorporating yoga into her routine. She says it’s helping her understand her feelings regarding the pandemic, and it’s a healthy outlet.

“It definitely helps to keep you grounded and everything. And not get so overwhelmed with the changes and everything,” she said.

Charles Sumner & John Adams Elementary Schools in the Scranton School District will be implementing the yoga into their curriculum, and sending home self care kits for their students.