Math teacher finds her zen

One Diamond Bar High School math teacher has  introduced her classroom to the relaxing practice of yoga and is working to make it more available to all students on campus.

Isabella Chiang is stretching out and bringing her yoga philosophy and exercises to DBHS.

Chiang became a certified yoga instructor over the previous summer and has been practicing the activity for the past two to three years.

“It’s not just a physical exercise but it helps me mentally and emotionally, and it’s such a well-rounded practice and it helps with so many aspects of your life so that’s why I love doing it,” Chiang said.

When Chiang was first introduced to yoga as a college student, she saw it as a boring exercise with extremely slow stretches. However, after  graduation, Chiang took another yoga class and returned with a newfound passion.

“[The instructors] didn’t just focus on the physical aspect of, but they tied in the philosophy of it and how it can be used to help you with your social-emotional wellbeing,” Chiang said.

Chiang took an unconventional path to earning her certification by taking a route made specifically for teachers.

She took  a social-emotional well-being class, completing her training within just three months, compared to the one-year option that most people take.

Chiang received her certification over the past summer after four classes, in which  she learned a different aspects of yoga: physical poses, philosophy, human anatomy and social-emotional well-being.  She took these courses daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until she fulfilled the instructor requirement of 200 hours.

Due to her busy schedule prepping for classes, Chiang hasn’t been able to teach at a studio yet, but she hopes to utilize her certification and bring a yoga class to DBHS. She has already taken small steps in integrating her practice of yoga with her job on campus.

“[In] the first three to five minutes of all my classes, we do mindful breathing and mindful movement exercises,” Chiang said, “I think most of my students really appreciate the first few minutes of class— they’re able to collect themselves and just be aware of how their body is feeling.”

Chiang hopes to open up the practice of yoga not just to the students in her class but to the entire campus through a class or an after-school activity. Yet, there are several challenges to her plan, such as the cost of equipment for yoga mats and props that help with poses and practice spaces.

For Chiang, yoga has helped her manage her stress and keep calm under frustrating situations she may encounter. She hopes that her class serve a similar purpose for her students, giving them a place to relax and let go of their stress.

“Just being a high school student can take a toll on not just your physical well-being but people’s social-emotional well-being, so I would love to use it as a way to give kids a tool to deal with any stress that they might have in their life,” Chiang said.