Singing Bowl Steps: Inviting the Bell to Sound

WHO

Everyone has the right to invite the bell and invite others to stop and practice.

WHAT

An invitation to sound the bell. Inviting instead of striking is more sacred, more of a nonviolent attention.

WHEN

  1. Beginning of the day, end of the day, and transitions.

  2. Before meals.

  3. Whenever someone doesn’t feel grounded or the atmosphere doesn’t feel peaceful.

  4. Before a yoga practice.

WHERE

  1. Front of the room

  2. Meeting space

  3. Mini centering center

  4. Small room

HOW

1.Sat Nam or Namaste or Hello your singing bowl~ as your friend.

2.Close your eyes. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart.

3. Tune into your rhythm, your pattern, your sensations.

4. Place bowl in the center of your palm, fingers open wide. {Closing fingers will stifle the sound.}

5. In and out, take two breaths.

6. Gently tap the bowl to “awaken the bell” and let those around you know that soon there will be a full ring.

7. Invite everyone to stop what they’re doing and tune in.

8. Follow your breath for another 11 seconds, 22 if you’re generous.

9. Invite the bell fully. The sound as Thich Nhat Hanh describes it, sounds like a bird soaring up.

10. Take 3 deep breaths and invite the bell again. And again-three breaths and one final invitation.

11. Invite everyone to open their eyes and look at you when they don’t hear the sound of the vibration anymore.

WHY

  1. The sound brings us back to our true home where we feel grounded and elevated.

  2. Others feel they can breathe deeper by being around you.

  3. The deeper we tune in, the deeper our breath, the deeper our nerves, the deeper our thoughts, the deeper our words, the deeper our actions, the deeper our lives..

Please share your singing bowl stories with us..

Sat Nam

 

 

 

 

Moving on….

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.

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We spent a few moments looking inward by breathing deeply to cleanse away any judgement, frustration or anger we may ofks-nov-2016-blog_7 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

Inviting Athletes to the Mat

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).

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The response varied from you need FullSizeRender 3
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 attendanYoga for Kids-204ce 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.!FullSizeRender

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