Pupils at a Pembrokeshire school have been given some hands on help in dealing with stress.
Students at Ysgol y Preseli in Crymych were given a lesson in relaxation recently by a trained shiatsu practitioner to help them cope with exams and the stresses and strains of modern-day life.
One hundred and sixty pupils took part in the session at a recent Preseli Day of Health with a follow up ‘Sailing Through Stress' class for 16 year olds.
Now it's hoped that more relaxation classes will follow together with special sessions for teachers.
"We're living in a society that is all about achievement. Youngsters these days face so many pressures from all directions and are expected to perform well in all that they do," said shiatsu practitioner and facilitator Anna Jones, who ran the relaxation classes.
"It is not surprising that they find it hard to relax, and feel comfortable in themselves. What I offer the pupils is a little ‘window of quietness' to support all they are being asked to achieve.
"I invite pupils to be aware of their posture, their breathing, and teach them simple relaxation techniques, which is one of the keys to helping them grow up in a balanced and well rounded way. This could help them in all aspects of life: concentration, emotional and physical balance and self-confidence."
Anna, who lives near Boncath, studied shiatsu at the International Institute of Oriental Medicine in Japan and at the HSEC (Healing Shiatsu Education Centre) in Herefordshire.
She has travelled widely in both the East and Latin America and, as well as practicing shiatsu, is a part time Spanish tutor at the school. She also organises and teaches Japanese for the language module of the Welsh Baccalaureate.
"We all benefit from time and space in which to relax, to calm the mind and be more aware of where we are coming from," she said.
"In Japan families and workers do simple exercises before they start their day every morning to help concentration and here in the UK schools are exploring the benefits of short sessions of 15 minutes of exercises, or a minute's silence, for example, before they start the school day.
"I enjoy working in partnership with schools, setting up a quiet space as part of Health Awareness days, regular short sessions or one-day workshops to support students and staff during term time or at periods of stress, such as during examination terms."
Recently three of the Year 11 GCSE students, who attended her sessions spoke at an ASCL (Association of School and College Lecturers) Cymru Conference in Cardiff about how the sessions had benefitted them and their fellow pupils.
Michael Davies, Headteacher at Ysgol Y Preseli said "Students today are having to face up to sitting examinations on a more regular basis with the demands on them increasing.
"We are pleased to be able to offer a comprehensive Health curriculum along with specialist shiatsu sessions to assist students to relax and help them with their exam preparations.
"We are grateful to Anna for pioneering this new relaxation and well-being programme.
"We are also very proud to have achieved the ASCL award for our ‘Sailing Through the Stress' course."
Pupils enjoy a relaxation session with shiatsu practitioner and facilitator Anna Jones.
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