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Episode 16: Katherine Priore – Combatting Toxic Stress in Low-Income Schools

Hi everyone!

I started this podcast to provide inspiration and advice for practicing — but I also hope to highlight people in our community who are working hard to bring yoga to populations who might not ordinarily experience the practice. Katherine Priore Ghannam (@katherinepriore on Instagram) is one of those people and she’s my guest on this week’s episode.

Katherine is the founder of Headstand, a nonprofit organization that teaches yoga and mindfulness to kids attending low income schools. As a former school classroom teacher and a yoga teacher, Katherine understood the importance of creating a yoga program that was part of the school culture and she had also witnessed how stressful learning was for kids who were growing up in poverty.

She believed strongly that yoga and mindfulness techniques could provide children with tools to not only cope with their circumstances, but to thrive. In the past eight years, she’s seen how yoga has helped her students cope with stress, how it has improved academic achievement, and how it has helped kids transition to college and beyond. Here’s a summary of what we talk about on the episode:

* The definition of toxic stress and how it can inhibit a child’s ability to learn.
* Learning to see a child’s behavior as their way of communicating their needs, difficulties, and emotions.
* The importance of adult self-regulation when teaching children.
* The types of changes she sees in students from the beginning of the year to the end.
* How yoga and mindfulness have helped create cultures of compassion in the schools that Headstand serves.
* How the job has fueled Katherine’s optimism
* Katherine’s desire to see social/emotional learning and mindfulness integrated into schools everywhere.

“When I see my students overcoming such incredible odds and discovering their own innate gifts and talents and inner beauty — it’s so inspiring. It fuels me. I’m stunned by admiration and respect for our students.” — Katherine Priore

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RECOMMENDED & RELATED LINKS
Headstand’s Web Site
Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris’s Ted talk: How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime
Follow Headstand on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Golden State Warriors Steph Curry doing yoga with Headstand students
How Yoga in Schools Helps Kids De-Stress

MUSIC
Salami Junior — Get Me Out of America
Jahzzar — Cold Like This
The Polish Ambassador — Wonder Continental ft Beatbeat Whisper

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