TEACHER PROFILE SERIES

Breathing ain’t easy, but it can be taught

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High school history teacher, Harvard graduate and active volunteer Dominique Padurano knows a thing or two about stress. That would explain why she practices breathing exercises with students during class, teaches yoga after school and plans to volunteer her services on weekends.

The 39-year-old has taught at Horace Mann’s upper division for four years and has lived locally for just as long.  She  said she noticed the school’s rigorous academic requirements wore students thin. So she began practicing yoga breathing and stretching exercises at the beginning of class to enliven or calm students, depending on what they needed. 

“In the beginning they’ll think I’m crazy, I’m sure ... but I think that they realize the benefits,” Ms. Padurano said, adding that she gives students stretching ideas to reduce back pain and sleeplessness.

Current and former students said the short practice period makes a big difference.

“I’ve never done yoga or really breathing before. It relaxes you,” 11th grader Spencer Reiss, who is currently taking Ms. Padurano’s class, said. He added that his Spanish teacher recently imitated the routine.

Senior Tucker Caploe said Ms. Padurano “made sure we were de-stressed and ready to work.”

Last year, Ms. Padurano revived the after-school yoga program to help with further stress-busting. Once every week in the school’s Black Box Theater, she teaches a small group of students how to bend, breath and pose until they fall into relaxation.

“Horace Mann is a pretty intense place and I think that teachers and students can use the tools that yoga can give us for dealing with stress,” Ms. Padurano said, adding that she offered a course for faculty and staff last year and is receiving requests to continue it.

Wearing black leggings, silver jewelry and a black tank top, Ms. Padurano performed some poses during an interview last month. Diving gracefully into an effortless plank, the 13-year yoga veteran didn’t look like she needed any more instruction. Yet, she said she was currently getting her teaching certification from Yoga Haven in Tuckahoe, N.Y.

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