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.
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.
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!
Amy’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!
We all know through research and probably experience that meditation is a good thing. It’s true that meditation helps children to feel better, know better and do better. That’s because meditators are in touch with their best self. If we’ve neglected to stay in touch with that part of ourselves, then how can we introduce that self to others? When access to our best self is as close as our next inhalation and expressing our best self is as easy as the next exhalation, then showing up to school, tests, parties, conversations, and even to do your chores as your best self feels natural. If your best self feels like a stranger, this meditation will help you tune in to your goodness and integrate that energy into your being. This powerful mantra, mudra and meditation practice prepares children, so when it’s time to show up as their most grounded and elevated self, they can bring it!
Touch thumb to pinky and say One
Thumb to ring finger and say Two
Thumb to middle finger and say Three
Thumb to index finger and say Four
Keep repeating the hand positions (mudra) with each set of words (mantra).
Touching the thumb to each finger creates a specific mudra that stimulates the brain and calms the nervous system.
When we repeat words or sounds, they become our Mantra. Repeating a mantra is a very effective way to direct the mind.
Either hold this mantra (thumb and index finger touching) for several deep breaths or…
Touch thumb to pinky finger. Breathe in, Breathe out.
Touch thumb to ring finger. Breathe in, Breathe out.
Touch thumb to middle finger. Breathe in, Breathe out.
Touch thumb to first finger. Breathe in, Breathe out.
Show thumbs up. Breathe in, Breathe out.
Repeat as many times as needed to result in a balanced body, a peaceful heart, a settled mind and an uplifted spirit.
Variation – Practice saying the words aloud, then in a whisper, then only in your mind, then return to a whisper, and finally once again aloud. Remember to practice the five deep breaths before repeating the mantras.
The words associated with the numbers represent each chakra.
First Chakra- Ground your foundation and steady yourself
Second Chakra – Feel your emotions and honor yourself
Third Chakra – Charge your power and express yourself
Fourth Chakra – Explore your heart’s desires and guide yourself
Fifth Chakra – Truth in what you speak and tell yourself
Sixth Chakra – Wit is inner wisdom and your intuitive, intelligent self
Seventh Chakra – Now exist in the present moment and know yourself
Eighth Chakra – Meditate and all of the chakras align with your best self
Meditate before and after this asana practice for even greater grounding and elevation.
Do Your Chores (both directions)
Cat Scratch Fever
No Whining & Because I Said So (both on one side, then the other)
Down Dog, Straight Leg Lunge, Bring It On (both on one side, then the other)
Serious Crow Playful
Bubble Gum Breath
Baby Got Back
Just A Sip (stay on back)
Do The Twist
Rock and Roll (side to side)
In 2006 I arrived on my first yoga mat during my pregnancy of my daughter. A year later I was teaching preschool and fitness classes to children as way to continue to be with her on a daily basis. Last January I showed up to my first Grounded Yoga experience with Level 1, and I have now come full circle with my passion for my family, yoga, and teaching children. On my journey for self-discovery, I have found that even though I face bumps in the road…I am meant for this, to be a Grounded Yoga Teacher.
This past year I have had the incredible opportunity to be the lead teacher for both music and yoga at my girls’ Montessori school. I teach 7 Preschool Music classes, 7 PreGrounded classes, 3 Toddler Yoga classes, and 5 Lower Elementary (1st-3rd Grade) Grounded classes per week. I added up the numbers once and it was around 290 students each week with at least 4 different lessons running at one time…when we are all in sync. It has been my most challenging and rewarding year so far!! I mention these facts because there are times that these numbers seem overwhelming, even though it’s my dream job.
When I arrived at my Grounded Level 1 Training, I was asked to pick one word to put on the inside of my name card. A word that described what I wanted to evoke in my own classes. My word was “Fun”. When I find myself coming up against obstacles in my teachings or classes, I try and go back to this word. One example of this is bringing the Chakra Beatbox song by MC Yogi into my Lower Elementary (LE) classes. As a part of our Tune In ritual we chant this song, with music, while placing our Namaste hands in front of each body part that is represented by each Seed Sound. (Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Om, Silence) The students are able to use their voices, bodies, and energies, and connect to our space and to me. I am able to connect to my students in an important way. All elements can find their place in this chant…Earth~ sit strong and grounded, Water~ be creative and move, Fire~ be loud and boisterous, and Air~ be vocal in their words or sounds.
Click HERE to view Lee’s video clip of her class chanting these seed mantras.
Each week I am challenged by the fact that not all my students love nor even care to be in yoga each week. I am constantly looking for ways to keep things both powerful and engaging. I struggle with 2-3 students in every class, and this week I decided to put our mats into a circle formation, rather than rows. It was incredible. It changed my own perspective, and the perspective of the whole class. We still had some issues, but I felt stronger in my own energy to stay calm and address each issue.
Completing Level 3 this weekend, and receiving my RCYT certificate from Grounded is exhilarating, however, this is not the end. Rather a new beginning; a new way of being; a knowing, that I have the skills and training to be able to truly listen to my own instincts and follow my heart.
Inspired by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1:30 Vyadhi-Styana-Samsaya-Pramada-Alasya-Avirati-Bhrantidarsana-Alabdhabhumikatva-Anavasthitatvani-Cittaviksepah-Te-Antarayah
Say YES to Brightness,
To Certainty, To Health
Say NO to dullness,
To doubt, to filth.
Say YES to Careful,
To Enthusiasm, to Aim
Say NO to careless,
To backsliding, to lame.
Say YES to Activity,
To Attention, To Humility.
Say NO to heedless,
How to say NO
To such 9 Disturbances?
Create a “no” prop
To play interference.
A block will work wonders
To impede interruptions.
Place between your hands
To help with deductions.
Press your hands in
To fire your inner shoulders.
Breathe your arms up
And become a beholder.
Keep pressing in
To activate what’s dull.
Reach the block up high
As well as your skull.
Hold a block in one hand
Lift up your opposite knee
Tilt to block side
Finding freedom is key.
Place the “no” block
Right between your thighs.
I know it is awkward
May your enthusiasm rise!
Press your thighs back
Keep your shins fixed.
Fold Forward, touch the floor
Breathe steady while betwixt.
Step back into Downward Dog,
Bend your knees a lot.
Press your block up and back
Notice your train of thought!
Shift forward into plank
Lower down flat like a pancake.
Keep shins pressing down
Lift thighs up with a mandate.
Stretch your belly and heart forward,
Hips back toward your toes
Open your shoulders
Like a polyphonic prose.
Press back to Down Dog
Come down to table.
Remove your block
Keep hands and shins stable.
Prepare to find freedom
With boundaries no less.
In this grounded pose
We call “No Table Yes”.
As you stretch right leg back
Exhale YES to Higher Aim.
As you bring knee to forehead
Inhale NO to Low Lame.
Your spine arches and curves
As you continue 5 times
Try it fast, Try it slow
Cause it’s prime.
Press toes together
Root hips to your heels
Stretch heart and hands forward
Notice what is revealed.
Sit in easy pose
Tune into your frame.
Each inhale in
Think YES to high aim.
Each exhale out
Think NO to Low Lame
May this help you
Up your game.