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With New Book, Health & Physical Education Chair Tawn Turnesa-Norton  Brings Mindfulness To Athletics 

The Public Schools of the Tarrytowns is proud to congratulate Physical Education Department Chair Tawn Turnesa-Norton on the publication of her book, Training Athletes from the Inside Out. The book offers short, weekly yoga and mindfulness lessons for use by athletes and their coaches. These lessons are designed to help athletes practice self-awareness and emotional self-regulation in order to boost performance and improve mental health.

The Public Schools of the Tarrytowns consistently tries to promote mindfulness in everything we do, and Ms. Turnesa-Norton has been integrating mindfulness practices into our schools for the past five years. It began with leading breathing in mindfulness practices among teachers at Sleepy Hollow High School at the beginning of meetings, as well as with students in the physical education classes she taught. She also created a Mindful Room at the high school with stations such as coloring, journaling and meditation. After introducing mindfulness into the school curriculum, she began leading student-athletes in yoga, breathing exercises and visualizations during practices and before games. Additionally, Ms. Turnesa-Norton is offering free virtual classes in mindfulness to the TUFSD staff. 

The core of the book is based on the premise that all sports are 10% physical and 90% mental, taken from David Meggyesy’s article 90% Mental, 10 % Physical: The Inner Game. Mrs. Turnesa-Norton believes we tend to overemphasize physical training, because it is what we are familiar with, and because there is still stigma surrounding mental health issues. But she sees this starting to change as people begin to recognize the importance of good mental health.

“Without positive mental health, everything else can crumble,” she said. “That is why mindfulness has become so popular.”

Training Athletes from the Inside Out is designed for use at all levels, from varsity to collegiate to semi pro and professional. Mrs. Turnesa-Norton also believes it could be integrated into physical education curriculum, with students following a 15-20 minute yoga routine, learning a strategy to help retrain the brain to think more positively, and being guided in a mindfulness practice. The book also includes sport-specific visualizations to be used before games in order to get athletes into a positive mindset.

When asked about the inspiration for the book, Ms. Turnesa-Norton cited the season she spent working with the Sleepy Hollow High School Varsity Basketball Team. After putting together mini-lessons and seeing the impact they had on the team, she realized there was no book out there that presented yoga and mindfulness lessons in the way she was teaching them. She was also inspired by her own personal practice of mindfulness and classes she has taken in the past.

“I believe wholeheartedly that mindfulness can change your outlook on life if you practice it,” said Mrs. Turnesa-Norton. “I want to share that knowledge with as many people as I can to promote positive mental health.”