by Sasha Ryu
During the fall semester of 2018, faculty member Christie Pacheco attended two hundred hours of training courses to become a licensed yoga instructor — all while working as a full-time history teacher at LGHS.
Fifteen years ago, when Pacheco started practicing yoga, classes were a way to exercise and spend time with her friends. It wasn’t until around 2014, after losing both of her parents, that yoga took on a transformative role in her life.
“I’ve always been a bit of a stoic person. Whenever I go through something difficult, I tend to just keep it to myself,” she explained. “When my parents passed away, yoga became my way to heal and process the loss that I had experienced.”
Upon discovering the profound impact yoga could have on a person’s life, Pacheco became determined to share that gift with other people. So, when she came across a program designed to help educators incorporate yoga and mindfulness into their classroom culture, she was eager to take on the challenge.
As a mother of two with a full-time job, Pacheco was already juggling a tight schedule. However, by attending training sessions five to ten hours at a time, she was able to receive her instructor certification in less than five months.
Not long after she finished her training, Pacheco was approached by a friend working at a recovery center for eating disorder patients, who asked if she’d be interested in teaching a yoga class for girls with anorexia.
As someone who’d dedicated her entire career to working with high school students, Pacheco was excited to learn that all the patients happened to be around 15 to 17 years old.
“[When my friend asked me,] I knew I wanted to do it. The fact that [the girls] were all part of an age group that I really know how to connect with really made it seem like the perfect fit,” she commented.
Although one might not guess it, anorexia nervosa is more fatal than any other mental illness in America. This is because a prolonged lack of nutrition combined with overexertion frequently leads to cardiac arrest. Given that any amount of exercise can be dangerous for a person struggling with the eating disorder, Pacheco carefully formats these classes to accommodate her students’ unique medical needs.
“I still remember the first day I came in to teach,” she said. “All of these girls were super fidgety, and [because of their medical condition] you could hear how shallow their breathing was. That’s why my class isn’t about exercise. I’m really just trying to help them connect with their bodies in a positive way.”
After seeing how much she enjoyed teaching at the center, Pacheco began working towards starting a yoga class at LGHS. “I think this class is just the type of thing the kids at this school need. With so much stress and pressure in [their] lives, I think, more than anything, students need time to relax and be in the moment.”