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Youth yoga programme touring NZ schools to help kids deal with stress, bullying

A yoga programme designed to give school children lifelong tools to deal with stress has started touring around the country.

Yoga guru Jase Te Patu has run the programme called M3 at Taita Central School in Lower Hutt.

He told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp the technique he teaches keeps the kids cool, calm and collected. 

"When kids are allowed to find the present moment they can make wiser decisions a little bit more calmer, more focused," he said. 

Mr Te Patu said children today face more distractions, and social media and bullying are "huge". 

The techniques he teaches kids can also help parents tackle tantrums, he said. 

When Mr Te Patu isn't at the school, children do the yoga techniques from a video.  The first 'M' of the programme is Māori stories, the second is movement that puts the story into the children's bodies, and the third M is mindfulness.

If children have disagreements, you see them using the breathing techniques - Tania Cohen, Taita Central School Principal

Taita Central School children gave the yoga programme positive reviews.

"It makes me feel good," one said. 

Another said it was "peaceful and calm".

While another said: "When you're angry you can breathe in and out, and then you calm down." 

The school's principal, Tania Cohen, has noticed changes in children who've taken the yoga programme.

"Out in the playground at lunchtime, if children have disagreements, you see them using the breathing techniques. And they're quite proud about it, they'll come and tell me," she said.

Yoga is Jase Te Patu's own natural medication too. 

"Yoga has helped me so much personally in my own mental health. I've had four friends pass from suicide," he said.

The recent medical-related death of his younger brother, who left behind eight children, reminds Mr Te Patu of his cause.

"If I can teach his kids some tools to be able to deal with stuff so they don't carry it around as mamae in their heart, as issues with their mental health which again manifests itself physically," he said. 

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Jase Te Patu is about to start touring his Yoga for Kids course around the country. Source: Seven Sharp