NEW YORK CITY, NY — All New York City public schools from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 will soon be required to facilitate two-to-five minutes of mindful breathing practices in schools every day, Mayor Eric Adams and other officials announced in a news conference Tuesday.

As part of the initiative—which aims to increase physical and mental health, enhance social-emotional learning, and improve New York City public schools’ culture—the city has already begun a rollout of a citywide professional development program for educators in mindful breathing practices, city officials said in a news release Tuesday.

"We live in a time of toxic social media communities, constant news flashes, and unfiltered alerts, all leaving a toll on the mental health of our students. But, today, it is time for our students to calm their nervous systems down," Adams wrote in the release. "Mindful breathing can be done by anyone, anywhere, and anytime ... Mindful breathing is another way we are teaching our young people healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

In March 2023, in partnership with the Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program, the Department of Education began to roll out a professional development program to train educators and other school staff in the implementation of mindfulness breathing practices and other social and emotional tools, officials said.

According to officials, school leaders will be empowered to implement this initiative in individualized ways, but all New York City public schools will soon be required to offer all students mindful breathing practices in school every day.

Studies show that mindful breathing practices support students’ ability to feel secure and receptive while learning—leaving positive impacts from the integration of these practices into the school experience, officials said.

"Students’ mental well-being is as important to the learning process as the lesson plan or textbook," New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar said, in part, in the news release. "Mindful breathing practices can reduce depression, stress, and physical pain, while improving the immune system and cognitive ability. Teaching these practices to our children will lay the foundation for them to excel in school and in life."

Speaking to the crowd at P.S. 005 Dr. Ronald McNair, Adams shared anecdotes of how practicing self-care has benefitted him in his own life and career, recalling a moment of relaxation he etched into his schedule around the time he lost his mother while running for mayor.

"I remember when I was debating to become mayor ... all of the candidates would be moving around out of nervousness and I would sit down in the studio before we went on to debate and do my breathing exercises," Adams said. "One of the candidates looked over at me and said, 'We're never gonna beat this guy!'"

Toward the end of the news conference, officials welcomed three children to the stage to lead the audience in a breathing exercise, and Adams requested that the journalists join in to "find your happy place." For a few seconds, the officials on stage stood with their eyes closed as the boys lead them through six breaths.

According to Adams, if you have mindful breathing in your toolkit, "you will never be defeated."

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