High School Yoga Teacher Pays it Forward

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In an effort to show the world how effective yoga can be for teenagers who face the enormous stress of academics, sports, work, and social pressure, Stefanie Gross, a yoga teacher and high school career adviser in Boca Raton, Florida, decided to go big: the largest high school yoga session ever. On January 17, Gross led more than 1,300 students in a yoga wave of Sun Salutations across the football field at Boca Raton High School, an event she hopes will make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

During the fourth period of the school day, the students along with 50 local yoga teachers filled the field, moving through the sequence. Guests at the event included stars from the former MTV reality show The Buried Life, which is also the title of the best-selling book, about four college friends who travel across North America exploring the question, "What do you want to do before you die?"

To emphasize that there's more to yoga than fitness and health, Gross, who has offered yoga as a PE elective at the school for the past five years, used the opportunity to teach the students about paying it forward. The students had been asked to create bucket list items of their own, and to think about ways to help others in the process. One list item—a wheelchair that would work on the beach for a teen who had been recently paralyzed—was chosen as a donation item from the event.

"It's not just the work out, it's the work-in and the work-through," Gross explained.

And on her bucket list? To see yoga in every high school in America.

"I know that we are lessening stress and tackling obesity one Chaturanga, one Down Dog, one Up Dog, at a time," she says.

Watch a video of the event here.