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Focus Five: Prepare to Thrive and Feel Alive

Written by

Lillarose, Grounded Student, Age 10

(Grounded elevating student since age 3.)

It was a rainy day… A perfect day to do yoga to set my day straight and to breath in my emotions.  Sometimes we feel happiness, sometimes we feel sadness, sometimes we feel joy and even stress.  There is good stress and there is bad stress.  It’s okay to feel these emotions.  Let’s honor them all, let’s talk about it and let them guide us to be the best we can be.  The Focus Five Prepare to Thrive sequence will help anyone who needs to be calm, relaxed or to become more confident.

FOCUS FIVE

I like to think that each finger has an emotion.  Think that the thumb has happiness.  Breathe in happiness and send out light.  The pointer finger has sadness.  Breathe in sadness and allow the light to embrace the darkness, shining out.  The middle finger has joy.  Breathe in joy and send out light.  The ring finger has stress.  Breathe in stress and allow the light to hug the darkness, sending out light.  And, the pinky finger has love.  Breathe into love and send out love to the world.  When you breathe and press your fingers together you are breathing in all these emotions.  Feeling happiness, sadness, joy, stress and love are all natural emotions.  Embrace them all and honor the dark, sending out love, light and comfort.  When you exhale you are allowing them out and they go into other people’s breath and out into the world.

LOTUS BREATH

Imagine flowers… Like a Lotus flower, they are calming.  They grow in dirty waters, but are really pretty.  If you are in a difficult situation remember the Lotus.  You can always rise out of the muck and bring beauty to any situation.

WASHING MACHINE

In this pose, let your head and shoulders relax.  You will go in circles and in different directions just like life will take you.  Try to close your eyes in this pose.  Imagine life taking you somewhere.  Somewhere with a cool breeze and a gentle cycle.  Then, do it one more time with your eyes open and in the opposite direction.  Think about where the world is taking you.  Allow the water to rinse away all the dirt that is holding you back from living your life.

WAKE UP MOUNTAIN

Imagine yourself as a mountain… Strong and with a cool breeze.  Imagine you are that mountain.  You are feeling all the seasons (the spring, summer, winter and fall) in one swoop of wind.  Bring your arms in with an inhale and feel the wind inside you.  You will realize how beautiful it is.  When you move your arms up, exhale and allow the wind to breeze through the world for others to experience.

LEFT BREATH RIGHT BREATH

Imagine on one side you are breathing in your doubts.  On the other side, you are breathing in confidence.  With both sides there is a goodness… even the doubts.  The doubts help us push through to learn how to be more confident.  Stand tall and strong.  You are who you are.

FOCUS FIVE: PREPARE TO THRIVE

These cards are perfect to use on a rainy day, a sun shiny day or any given day.  Color, practice and breathe to prepare to thrive.

The singing bowl is just the thing to help you focus, clear your mind and set the day straight.

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

 

 

 

 

The One and Only Ivan Family Yoga

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Each year Little Shop of Stories, a bookstore in Decatur, has a city wide reading initiative called On the Same Page.   Readers of all ages enjoy the same book and for several weeks, activities are planned for the schools and the community leading up to the grand finale which is a guest reading by the book’s author.  The selected book for 2016 was The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

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The One and Only Ivan was inspired by the true story of a silverback gorilla, who spent 27 years of his life alone in a cage in a circus themed mall in Washington. After Ivan was featured in a National Geographic special he was placed on permanent loan to Zoo Atlanta where he was finally able to be outside and live contently with other gorillas.

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Grounded Teachers completing Refine your Teaching Step 3 earned their green bandanas with a service learning project by combining literature, music, art and yoga into a Family Event.  Participants (adults and children 4+) were invited to connect with their inner Ivan, Julia, Stella, Ruby and Bob on the mat and then create their own inspired piece of art by drawing with their breath.

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Almost 100 participants arrived at the Renfroe Middle School gym on a Sunday afternoon.

Parts of the book were read aloud as instrumentalists from Winnona Park Elementary played music to accompany poses that symbolized the characters in the story.

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Ivan the Gorilla- An artist with patience

“I am Ivan. I am gorilla. It’s not as easy as it looks. People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback. The names are mine, but they’re not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan. Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part. I suppose you think gorillas can’t understand you. Of course, you also probably think we can’t walk upright. Try knuckle walking for an hour. You tell me: Which way is more fun?”

*Down dog – knuckle walk*

“I am mightier than any human, four hundred pounds of pure power. My body looks made for battle. My arms outstretched span taller than the tallest human. My family tree spreads wide as well.”

*Chest beat – tall mountain*

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*Sa Ta Na Ma – I am what I am – I am friendly, I am brave, I am patient, I am real*

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“My visitors are often surprised when they see the TV Mack put in my domain. They seem to find it odd, the sight of a gorilla staring at tiny humans in a box. Sometimes I wonder, though: Isn’t the way they stare at me, sitting my tiny box, just as strange?”

*See It From My Side *I See It From Your Side*

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Stella the Elephant- Old and Wise

“Stella says she is sure I will see another real, live gorilla someday, and I believe her because she is even older than I am and has eyes like black stars and knows more than I will ever know. Stella’s trunk is a miracle. She can pick up a single peanut with elegant precision, tickle a passing mouse, tap the shoulder of a dozing keeper.”   *Warrior 1 Up, Warrior 2 With Clarity, Triangle With Wisdom*

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“A good zoo,” Stella says, “is a large domain. A wild cage. A safe place to be. It has room to roam and humans who don’t hurt.” She pauses, considering her words. “A good zoo is how humans make amends.” *Soapbox Freedom*

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Bob the Stray Dog – Street smarts

“Bob is a stray, which means he does not have a permanent address. He is so speedy, so wily, that mall workers long ago gave up trying to catch him. Bob can sneak into cracks and crevices like a tracked rat. Bob is tiny, wiry, and fast, like a barking squirrel. His tail moves like weeds in the wind, spiraling, dancing. Bob’s tail makes me dizzy and confused. It has meaning within meanings like human words. “I am sad,” it says. “I am happy.” It says, “Beware! I may be tiny, but my teeth are sharp.”

*Dark Seed Light, Down Dog, No Whining, Flip Dog, Double Dog Dare*

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Ruby the Baby Elephant – Young and playful and curious

“Stand back, everyone!” Mack yells. “We’ve got a new arrival. This is Ruby, folks. Six hundred pounds of fun to save our sorry butts. This gal is gonna sell us some tickets.” *Rock and Roll*

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“Ruby pokes with annoyance at her roped foot. She takes a breath. “Ivan? Do I have to do the shows with Mack today?” *Calm Down*

“I think of Ruby’s endless curiosity, and of the questions she loved to ask. Have you ever danced with a tiger, Ivan? Will your fur turn blue? Why doesn’t that little boy have a tail.” *We Will Rock You*

Julia the young girl with a dream to free Ruby and Ivan

“Julia is ten years old. She has hair like black glass and a wide, half-moon smile. She and I have a lot in common. We are both great apes, and we are both artists. Julia’s drawings are wild with color and movement. She draws things that aren’t real: clouds that smile and cars that swim. She draws until her crayons break and her paper rips. Her pictures are like pieces of a dream.”

*Camel, Play with Fire, Laughter Hero, Do the Twist*

The afternoon ended with a Breathe and Draw art lesson.

We breathed back to back..

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and drew with our breath..

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“It was a day of collaboration, connection and celebration of a compassionate book.

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Thank you Katherine Applegate for the story.

Thank you Little Shop of Stories for the collaboration.

Thank you Sarah Coleman for the Renfroe Middle Gym

Thank you Kelley Sue Hardin for capturing the radiance of the day.

and Thank you Grounded Teachers for Grounding and Elevating this day. Great to be on the same page with you all…”

~  Sat Nam….Cheryl Crawford

See this link for more information about On the Same Page.

 

http://weareonthesamepage.org/about-the-book

 

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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Yippee Ki Yay Namaste

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Want to build your positive mind?

Feel bright in every which way?

Breathe in BIG and stretch real wiiiiiiiiide

Exhale a Yippee Ki Yay!

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To activate Positive Mind

Release worries that stick like glue

Mooooove inside your rib cage

Let out a Yabba Dabba Doo!

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The negative mind is protective

fearing, “it’s just not possible”,

The positive mind takes risks

Makes the impossible, possible

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Go from Negative Mind clenching

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To stomping…

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To Jumping…

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To Laughing…

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To  quite Positive consequencing

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Let’s head toward the Neutral Mind

~the balance that hears both sides

Make choices from a centered space.

So our Trust gets… Magnified!

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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..

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   May we brighten ourselves  from the inside

So we easily Yippee Ki Yay

May we see each other’s goodness

Namaste Namaste Namaste

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Sat Nam

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

 

 

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