Our children have an opinion and I feel it is important for them to be heard. In my classes I welcome discussion and I let my students know that their opinions matter. Yesterday’s classes were magically healing. My Thursday morning class at LEAD Homeschool in Avondale Estates started off the day with heart opening poses and balancing poses. My afternoon class at Decatur Yoga was very similar but we went deeper within ourselves while wringing out the muck so we could create more room for positive and clear communication (the perfect way to end the day).
When I arrived at LEAD, I saw heads hanging low and felt a shift in the energy inside the room. The girls are usually laughing and their eyes sparkle. Not yesterday. So, like I often do in all my classes I asked the kids how they are feeling and if anyone would like to share. I asked if anyone would like to set an intention so we can go from there.
One very open and honest 12 year old asked if we could focus on GAINING BALANCE. Another, also age 12 wanted to work on FORGIVENESS and HEALING. And, another requested that we work on POSITIVE COMMUNICATION. So, we sat in Easy Seat and honed in on our hearts by beginning our practice with our hands over our hearts and our eyes closed.
We spent a few moments looking inward by breathing deeply to cleanse away any judgement, frustration or anger we may of stored. We exhaled releasing anything and everything that was not serving us at that present moment. We practiced I Am What I Am to celebrate that our opinions matter.
Then, we got to work by opening our hearts in Cat Scratch Fever, Snake, Warrior I Up and Camel. We began smoothing out our edges so we could soften more and respond from a place of love by stretching our side bodies long and revisiting Dark Seed Light whenever we needed to remember our intention and reconnect with the breath.
We gained balance by rooting our feet so we could rise tall, strong and confident in Tall Mountain and Warrior I with Harmony. And, then we did the hardest work of all, we practiced No Table Yes, Calm Down, Hold On a Minute and No Whining to wring out anything holding us back from healing and moving forward.
We tested our balance, challenged our hearts and began healing through positive communication while we chose a partner so we could check our alignment of our feet and help each other find more space. We ended the practice with Do the Twist, Savasana and Lotus Breath. In Savasana, we studied ourselves by scanning our bodies and asking ourselves how we feel verses when we first arrived to class.
We reconnected with our hearts and our intentions while recognizing that our original intention may of shifted due to our emotions and our thoughts balancing out. We realized that a lot came up emotionally. We learned that when we twist and shine we create more space for love, forgiveness and healing. When we balance, get strong in our legs and connect with the ground below our feet we become more grounded and confident so we can speak easy and lovingly while not losing what matters most – our voice. When we zoom in with our breath like in Lotus Breath we experience breathing and moving in unison.
The children thanked me, hugged me and each other. One student said it was the best class she had ever experienced and when I asked her why she told me because she needed to work on her stuff, her emotions, her frustrations and find balance.
Want to build your positive mind?
Feel bright in every which way?
Breathe in BIG and stretch real wiiiiiiiiide
Exhale a Yippee Ki Yay!
To activate Positive Mind
Release worries that stick like glue
Mooooove inside your rib cage
Let out a Yabba Dabba Doo!
The negative mind is protective
fearing, “it’s just not possible”,
The positive mind takes risks
Makes the impossible, possible
Go from Negative Mind clenching
To quite Positive consequencing
Let’s head toward the Neutral Mind
~the balance that hears both sides
Make choices from a centered space.
So our Trust gets… Magnified!
Positive mind is calm, contained
and inspires expansion and boldness,
We don’t get rid of the Negative Mind,
It protect us from dangers, like coldness..
May we brighten ourselves from the inside
So we easily Yippee Ki Yay
May we see each other’s goodness
Namaste Namaste Namaste
Thank you Yogi Bhajan for the teachings
Jenni Miller for the Yippee Ki Yay when I really needed it
and Rachel Schattle for capturing the children’s radiance
This 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…
Celia, fourth grade
Ellis, third grade
Beverly, fourth grade
Julia, second grade
Elena, first grade
Emily, second grade
Audrey, second grade
Lucy, first grade
Jack, third grade
…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.
A few years ago I was approached by a mom of a former yoga student who inquired if I might consider teaching yoga to her son’s soccer team. I was intrigued but had lots of questions: would the kids come to the yoga studio where I taught? were they wanting to join an existing class? what were her goals in my doing such a class? When we talked by phone she said her main goal was for the kids to have less injuries while playing soccer. She mentioned that the kids loved the game and gave it their best…but in her opinion were sustaining injuries due to their lack of flexibility. She had observed many of the classes her son was in with me and knew that yoga would be just what they needed….on many levels!! ! The mom felt the kids would resist coming to a yoga studio….and inquired if I would consider coming to them.
This lady turned out to be a very determined, focused and resourceful person! She had approached the owner of a large local family sports center about having the yoga classes there. She managed to strike a promising deal in which we could get a large, comfortable space rent free and she offered me a gracious salary for taking this on. We were ready to roll in just a few weeks!! ! I was so excited….but very nervous to start! I felt comfortable with my yoga teaching abilities but a little worried about my relative lack of knowledge about soccer. I reached out to my son-in-law who had played soccer for the University of Pittsburgh and had coached many youth soccer teams since. He was able to tell me what skills the kids needed to develop and I extrapolated what we might do in yoga to strengthen those skills. My husband (who frequently helped me teach yoga classes) has a strong knowledge base of sports and is very skilled in working with youth so he was an invaluable resource as well. ! ! The mom who had set this up explained that she envisioned the first class being offered for free. Afterwards any players wanting to join the class would be paying weekly. It was obvious that much was resting on “hooking” those athletes in a big way during that first class.
My husband and I were determined to entice those youth to embrace the many benefits of yoga in a single hour! This is what we did:! ! 1. developed a great play list of songs that would resonate with this age group (10-12 yr olds) & that were appropriate for a yoga class! 2. put together pictures of famous athletes (including soccer players) who do yoga! 3. put together pictures from our local newspaper of action shots of youth playing soccer (some from their own schools)! 4. prepared a handout: ”Benefits of Yoga for Athletes”! 5. developed a lesson plan that we HOPED would be interesting, fun, challenging (but do-able for newbies!) and truly reflective of the expansive benefits of yoga.! ! On the day of the class we arrived early to set up what turned out to be an awesome space: clean, spacious, well lit & warm (it was a typical winter day in Syracuse, NY). We put out our yoga mats “just right” and waited to greet our athletes. We were surprised (& thankful) when several parents chose to join the class. They were curious about what would happen in yoga….and wanted to be a resource should there be any behavioral concerns (spoiler alert: there were none!!). We ended up having about 20 youth….mostly boys, but some girls. They initially appeared to be excited, curious….and a little nervous. ! ! The class began with talking a little about yoga, inquiring about their knowledge & past experience (very limited). They were pretty impressed to hear about famous athletes who make yoga a part of their training. When we showed them photos from the local paper we asked: “what do you think you need to be able to do this?” (i.e.: 2 players attempting to head the ball; a goalie stretching to make a save; a player kicking the ball in an attempt to make a goal, etc).
The response varied from you need
to be really you n strong” to “you would need to be able to focus well” to “you would have to be really flexible”. Our response to each of their comments was “interestingly, yoga can help you be____” (i.e.: strong) and we would then teach them several yoga poses that involved strength, flexibility, concentration, etc. (i.e.: Down Dog, Pride Plank, Warrior 1 Up, etc). The kids loved all that we did! They enjoyed being challenged, showing their strength, partnering with teammates and finally relaxing!
We led them into Savasana with a version of I Am What I Am: our affirmations included: I am strong; I am smart; I am a good team mate; I always do my best. They especially loved their relaxation which included the gentle placing of eye pillows, relaxing music and a brief neck massage with essential oils. Following our closing words almost all the kids came to inquire about when the next class would be and to ask for info for their parents. Afterwards we were exhausted and ecstatic… as was the mom who had organized this! The parents who were in attendance made a point to tell me how impressed they were with the class & how much the kids needed this yoga ….whether they knew it or not!! ! The class continued successfully for several months until many of the kids were unavailable due to the start of their spring outdoor soccer season. Looking back I see this experience as a turning point for me as a yoga teacher. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone & in doing so helped me believe in my ability to teach a wide variety of kids in what may be an unfamiliar setting… with authenticity, grace and self assurance.!