“He’s the one who hugged me at the end of class,” she says.
Storz teaches in seven other classes, up to fifth grade, at the school as well. She also teaches both yoga and Pilates, among other classes, at McDowell Wellness Center and is the strength and conditioning coach for the women’s soccer team at Centre College.
“Now, that is an energetic group!” she says. “They are ready for anything.”
Storz received her bachelor of science degree in evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. She also holds master of science degrees in both biology and nutrition science from Florida State. She considers herself a “mostly” stay-at-home mom, so finding this way to bring her professional expertise into her child’s school is pure genius.
As she has been published in Molecular Biology (2006) and Ecology (2003) as well as other professional publications, when she shows the children how the frog jumps in yoga class, she knows what she’s talking about.
Storz is the picture of health but says she wasn’t always.
“I had something of an unhealthy childhood, “she says. “I was an unhealthy weight, too, when I was older. I smoked and I drank and didn’t have a very healthy lifestyle. Then I started hanging around some different people and I took a different perspective. I started walking first, then running. One day I was taking a group exercise class and I thought, ‘I could do this — better’ and I got my first certification. I’ve been teaching ever since, for 15 years now.”
She holds nearly a dozen certifications now.
One of the teaching strategies she uses for the wee ones at Montessori is to engage them in a storyline they then act out with yoga moves. Little crabs stretch out before creeping slowly sideways and then closing up tight to protect themselves from swooping seagulls. By the time they stretch out and breathe deeply, again safe and sound, a good bit of physical activity has taken place, cleverly disguised as play.
“Sometimes we will read a story first and then they will tell me what happens next,” she says.
She employs other strategies for the older students, including splitting them into smaller groups and separating the boys from the girls so self-consciousness doesn’t interfere as much with concentration.
Starting the day this way means the kids are more centered, she says.
It works for big people, too.
“Just paying attention to the breathing alone has benefits — the entire nervous system responds,” she says. “I¿have clients at McDowell who take their blood pressure before class and then after, and there is a marked improvement.”
By not waiting until an age where blood pressure is a factor to teach yoga to children, Storz may be establishing good habits for a lifetime.
“The more people who do yoga, who bring that peacefulness into the world every day, the more the world will be a better place,” she says.