• December 2, 2020
 Whitaker educator helps fellow teachers, community through online meditation classes

Whitaker educator helps fellow teachers, community through online meditation classes

Whitaker Elementary teacher and certified yoga instructor Claudia Altonen took to Zoom to share meditation and breathing techniques to bring calm and help her fellow educators cope during this challenging time.

“I started offering the meditation and breathing technique classes because I have experienced peace, joy, and powerful healing from being still and becoming one with my breath,” the kindergarten dual-language teacher said. “Even taking three deep breaths a day can bring a calmness and change in your life in a very positive way. Breathing is something we already do. When we become aware of it, it nourishes our heart, mind and body.”

Altonen learned meditation techniques 17 years ago when she started practicing yoga. She has provided the class to Whitaker staff but also offers a Friday yoga class for anyone interested.

“Emotional health is essential and extremely important during these challenging times because drastic change can allow negative emotions to arise, and we don’t want that,” she said.

“Meditation will allow you stay in tune with your mind, body and heart. It’s a natural, simple and available way to cope with anxiety and stress, and that’s really what the world needs right now.”

Principal Antoniette Carpenter is grateful for Altonen’s positive influence and sees the difference it makes among her staff.

“Mrs. Altonen has truly been a huge SEL promoter. Not only does she teach meditation and breathing techniques to our students, teachers and parents, she sends daily inspirational messages to our Whitaker teachers,” Carpenter said. “I am so grateful for her dedication to our team and her efforts to help ease the stress of our current situation.”

Both are encouraged to see the positive influence the classes have had at Whitaker.

“Some people have been practicing for years. Some people are curious and others have their own practices,” Altonen said. “We all have our own ways of coping with stress. If I can help, that makes me grateful and my heart full. I love to tell teachers how phenomenal they are.”

Some tips Altonen offers the following tips and tools to alleviate anxiety and stress – especially in these trying times.

  • Remember to take at least three-deep breaths in the morning, afternoon and evening.
  • Allow those inhales and exhales to last at least 4-5 seconds.
  • Consider setting a calendar reminder to do it.
  • Watch a quick breathing video on YouTube video to start the day or download a breathing app and watch from there.

“Truly value stillness and breathing,” Altonen said. “No music, no people, no thoughts, nothing – just being with yourself and your breath.”

Altonen offers her yoga/meditation class via Zoom every Friday at 5 p.m. until further notice. For more information and to get the Zoom code, email her at caltonen@episd.org.

Author:  Reneé De Santos – EPISD

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