Educators for all over Hillsborough County became certified yoga instructors at a Breathe for Change training at Dawson Elementary School in Riverview last month.

Dawson Elementary School Assistant Principal Ashley Wiese has a new skill set to use to improve the life of her students when the school year starts again next month. Wiese was one of 62 Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) employees who became a certified yoga instructor over the summer thanks to the Breathe for Change program.

The program, started by former pre-K teacher Ilana Nankin, offers a teacher-focused intensive yoga training certification with 200 hours of instruction over 16 days. Educators from all over Hillsborough County attended the program’s first Florida training at Dawson Elementary in June.

Wiese was instrumental in bringing the program to the area as she found out about Breathe for Change when looking into ways to take care of herself with her busy schedule.

“Education is stressful because we are constantly giving of ourselves, which leaves very little time for self-care,” said Wiese, who took the position as the school’s assistant principal when it opened for the 2018-19 school year. “When I found the Breathe for Change program I was thrilled because I realized it was a way I could help myself and my students at the same time.”

The program teaches participants how to incorporate yoga into their classrooms while also educating on social and emotional learning strategies, anatomy, philosophy, mindful movement for students and meditation.

Nankin, the Founder and CEO of Breathe for Change, developed the program after seeing how learning yoga impacted not only her well being but the performance of the students in her classroom.

“When I started incorporating yoga into my classroom I found that students made unbelievable advances, socially, emotionally and academically,” said Nankin. “It was then that I realized I wanted to share this with as many teachers as possible.”

In addition to certifying 1,700 teachers all over the country this year, Nankin is also in the end stages of developing a Breathe for Change app that will be available at no cost to teachers offering them convenient access to resources, live sessions and developmental workshops, in addition to yoga.

Additional training sessions are planned in the Tampa area and Nankin encourages teachers to follow Breathe for Change on Facebook and Instagram in order to keep up with the latest updates. For more information, visit or contact HCPS at 272-4000.

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.