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Just Breathe

My journey into Grounded started at home with my kids. They are naturally curious about anything I do so of course they wanted to learn yoga. I started teaching them from what I know best, the Primary Series in Ashtanga Yoga. My 2 girls are very different. While my younger daughter really took to Ashtanga yoga, my older daughter was bored. She craved variety in the practic IMG_5161and often times just wanted lay back and breathe…so I let her. After all, yoga is a breathing exercise with Asana sprinkled in, right? It was my kids that led me to Grounded Yoga. I wanted to be able to provide them with not only Ashtanga Yoga, but all kinds of yoga. I wanted them to be able to build a firm foundation in Yoga that will carry them through their childhood right into their adulthood. I wanted to provide them with the tools to be able to find their place on their mat, be it Ashtanga yoga or not. I wanted them to know that some days it’s ok to just breathe, that if breathing was all they did for their practice on a particular day(s), then they are still practicing Yoga.

As the final portion of my Grounded Teacher Training, I mentored under Holly Reese at Barnwell Elementary School with their Yoga Club. What an amazing, and rambunctious, group of girls we had! I have to admit, I was completely intimidated by the group after our first few meetings. I was extremely thankful to have Holly there with me. She knew most of the girls personally and was able to fill me in the intricacies of each one. Together we worked hard to support each individual as they needed, but to also set boundaries so we could all work together as a team. We were able to figure out who works well togetherIMG_5143 and who loved to goof off together. As the semester went on, I got to know the girls and the girls got to know me. I started to figure out each girl’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, etc. On one of my solo teaching days a student in the club was suffering from back pain due to a chronic condition she has. She participated in the class minimally but was present with us nonetheless. She spent the majority of the class breathing and observing. During Savasana, she was still sitting upright on her mat, just breathing. So I placed the “Just Breathe” pose sticker on her nametag and gently reminded her that breathing was the most important part of yoga some days and she did a great job in class. This must have struck a chord with her because after class she came up to me and gave me her favorite pencil, which was just a nub of a pencil with an eraser still attached. However, it was special to her. So now, that pencil is special to me. A reminder of how powerful and effective the breath can be. That some days it ok to Just Breathe.

Finals Exams: This too shall pass (and so will you!)

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I was asked by a high school media specialist if I would be interested in helping their students deal with the anxiety of final exams. “Of course I would, that’s what I do” was my response. On a side note: Witnessing students transform fear into freedom in a matter of minutes is something you can’t un see. Nor can you then deny the potential  value that even more minutes of yoga on a regular basis would have on these kids.  If you want to teach more kids more yoga, volunteering is visible value.

My plan was to teach our Focus Ten: Time and Again series and also base the teaching on their answers to my opening question “How are you feeling about finals?” I spoke about how motion helps us move through emotions and the temporary nature of exam triggered panic. We got real about self care strategies and awareness boosting techniques that help minimize chronic stress so we are better able to handle situational stress. And finally, they felt the instant gratification of a 3 minute Savasana. yoga-cartoonizer1

I am so grateful to Buffy Hamilton, the dedicated media specialist who shared these photos, vine videos and school newsletter write up with the  families and staff of Chattahoochee High School and may it lead to more.yoga2

Below is an excerpt from The Hooch Learning Studio

Today’s Winterfest “De-Stress” activity during our lunches was “Yoga and Breathing for Relaxation” with Amy Haysman of Grounded, a group and studio that works with young people. Their core belief is that “yoga can have a profound and positive effect on kids and teens. From our foundation as professional educators we have embraced the principles of yoga to create a program that enables instructors, school teachers, and even kids and teens themselves to “ground” themselves and others through yoga, laughter, and elevation.”

These beliefs were put into action with an overwhelmingly positive impact today in the Chattahoochee High School Library Learning Studio! Amy led students in our 4B, 5A, and 5B lunches through a yoga session that emphasized stretching, relaxation, and stress relief all grounded in a positive framework that she related back to the everyday academic and social challenges teens face, particularly here during finals time. Most of our students were new to yoga, and she did a fantastic job of providing them a great yoga experience at their point of need. We worked through a range of series of gentle movements and breathing exercises. Some students enjoyed the session so much that those with an hourlong lunch returned to do a second session!

img_4093Amy’s good humor, her ability to relate to our teen students, and her expert instruction created a phenomenal experience for our students here today. I am so impressed by the reaction and response of our students that I hope to get a grant to provide this kind of yoga experience for our students during lunches on a regular basis. Many thanks to our students who participated and to Amy Haysman for such a positive and energizing day!

 

 

 

You get what you need…

TS30_WarriorIIDecide_outlineThis is the time of applied, intuitive consciousness.

This is the time we let our hearts open up.

This is the time we need our children to experience reality through the compassion of the heart.

This is the time I asked our Fernbank Yoga Club Students~

What do you need to feel more present?

This is the time to state your needs so we can better serve our yoga club…

 

 

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Celia, fourth grade

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Ellis, third grade

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Beverly, fourth grade

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Julia, second grade

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Elena, first grade

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Emily, second grade

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Audrey, second grade

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Lauren, kindergarten

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Lucy, first grade

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Jack, third grade

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Brooklyn, kindergarten

…This is the time to strengthen our nervous systems, so the power of the magnetic human heart can be the force of peace.

Peace has a force to it.

It’s not passive.

This is the time to create a peaceful force to help us navigate through ups and downs, so we can really move mountains.

 

Let there be Peace
Let there be Peace of Mind
Let there be Peace with Mankind
Let there be Peace of the States
Let the World dwell within the Force of Peace~ Yogi Bhajan

Thank you, Traci Childress, The Mindful Reflection Project, for the “What are your needs?” inspiration.

Sat Nam

 

Grounding Educators and Kids Through Peace Circles and Yoga

I love using Yoga, especially Grounded Kids Yoga poses in my role as a certified Peace Circle Trainer with educators. It such a natural fit as the philosophies of both are about tapping into that ever present true or best self. Creating a sacred and safe space for participants to practice using their deep and rich reservoirs of wisdom and compassion for self and others is the foundation of both Peace Circle (P.C.) practices and Grounded Kids Yoga.

Let me back up and explain as a semi retired school Counselor of 38 years who has used circles in classrooms and groups for the last 20 years, I now have the privilege and the skills to train any community group in Restorative Practices, especially Peace Circles. Many schools here in western N.Y. and more specifically the Rochester City School District are embracing these trainings and incorporating them into their school environments in an effort to uplift the school cultures for both students and staff. More and more evidence is now available to show that these experiences build relationships, reduce violence, harm and conflict and when wrong doing does happen using Restorative Practices is a humane way to hold those accountable. Harm can be repaired with this process with support instead of punishing and alienating people, most often students. Its an honor to be a part of this cause and using Grounded Kids Yoga in these trainings is extremely helpful and a wonderful tool to use and to teach others to use for themselves and their students.

BettyI am happy to say I when I began working as a trainer 3 years ago I started using the Grounded Kids Yoga in most of my workshops and now many of the other trainers are incorporating some of the poses as well. I always begin first by briefly explaining the philosophy behind Grounded Kids Yoga as we all know there are many different types of yoga. Since doing openings and closing for every P.C. session is an integral part, I teach participants Just Breathe, “I am”, Lotus Breath and Namaste’. (I also add my own success stories using this yoga with kids.) I explain the mind jar when we do JB and have one available to demonstrate. Many educators have since adopted this for their classrooms and counseling groups. Tree Friends is a favorite to use as a closing (as in the picture above with educators from July 2015). If time allows we do Mountain, Tall Mountain, Breath of Joy and Half Lift. I use a chime for some added mindfulness and talk about ways to use this in the classroom. Dark Seed Light might be hard to do in the classroom but having the kids do a quieting, centering breathing pose with the chime is what I teach educators to use as great substitute and a positive way to facilitate kids managing their own behavior.

The list is growing and I find teachers have become more open to all of these practices as they recognize the value of connecting more with their kids, co-workers and themselves. Its exciting that many of our city schools are actually building in time for teachers to this. By the end of a training they all seem so appreciative for the experiential learning process, feel more connected to each other and are encouraged to have practical and new ways to create a more positive atmosphere in their own groups and classrooms. I walk away so grateful that two of my loves have come together to give me such purpose as well as hope for many of our struggling schools.

 

For more information on Restorative Practices and Peace Circles:

http://www.pirirochester.org/

http://www.iirp.edu/

 

Oh, Say Can You See, the Sacred and the Silly…

 Part of my practice is to create sacred spaces where I honor my guides, my teachers, a theme, what I am manifesting, what I am inspired by, and what I am teaching.

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This ritual helps me remember my intention, connect to the deeper teachings which I take quite seriously, and to myself {which I don’t }.

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My routine usually entails selecting pose cards or chips, children’s drawings, a poem or passage, photos of my heroes and heroines, and my particular notes and books about the message I am working on to share with my students.  I usually add stones and malas.

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When I gaze upon these creations, I see the world differently and know what I’m opening to.

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When I then close my eyes, I see myself differently. I know what I’m stepping into.

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I hold this space to focus my intention on the best outcome for my creations and projects. It works to enliven and build more life force in my body, lift the clouds of doubt, and sharpen my mind so it can penetrate beneath the surface.

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I start to gain a higher perspective and feel brighter and more clear and present~ and perhaps a bit silly. That just happens to be my wish for the children.

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Joseph Campbell says, ​”​[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.​”​

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I want my students to experience themSELVES. I do this practice so I can give them that.

Oh, Say Can you See? The Sacred and the Silly~ Please share your sacred {and silly} spaces with us. What objects have you brought together to manifest your creative projects?

Sat Nam

 

Photos by Rachel Schattle & Annabelle Finley, my brilliant and creative interns.

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Phone: 678-974-5198