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).
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.
I 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:
Flexibility in my teaching this week came in the form of ‘hold on a minute’ and ‘kids’.
I usually have 15-20 people in my classes but this week there was only 8. When I saw the sign ups on the computer and was thinking; but where is Laura, where are John and Sonya? I was a little disappointed; I wanted everyone to be there so I could tell them all about flexibility. But then I realized that I was doing a disservice to the students who had actually shown up, that it was these students that needed my focus and attention, it was these students who had choosen to practice yoga this evening. As always I took my notes about the theme Flexibility, (taken from yet another amazing Omni Webinar!!) into my Yoga class Monday night and spoke during centering. Early on in the Evolution series we do a 3-part Utkatasana pose. Part one is similar to the standard pose, part two is sitting hips to heels and part three is balancing. I had decided to carry on wearing the t-shirt I had been wearing to my first day of Kids yoga camp. It shows a picture of a boy doing revolved chair pose, which in Kid’s Yoga is called ‘hold on a minute’. At this point in the class I invited my students to be flexible, to show up and engage in what was being presented to them even thought it was unfamiliar. I instructed everyone into hold on a minute pose, to hold the pose for a minute and then do it again on the other side!
Sitting at the front desk after class I noticed that there was a stack of Yoga Journal magazines on the side and I couldn’t believe it when I saw that the top copy had a picture of none other than Parivrtta Utkatasana on the front cover!!! I was so excited that I made sure to show all my students as they left the studio. Matt commented that ‘It was very Vinyasa of me’. I asked Rosa how it had been for her. She said she found it tough, the pose and the unfamiliarity. I was pleased that my initial question had allowed her to open herself up to asking me a question about a pose in the series that she never really understood. John said he had also found the pose very challenging. He went on to explain that he appreciated the help with the cueing in class to engage and straightening his knees, as he had spent years playing hockey, where his stance throughout a game is knees bent. For him the elevation in height and the different feelings that come up in his body just going from bent knees to straight causes a sense of anxiety to start rising up inside him. This yoga is complex and fascinating stuff!
I want to tell you how flexibility in my planning made a young girl’s face light up when I offered her the opportunity to teach a lesson to the other kids at yoga camp. How the lesson theme ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ was tailor made for her. How the lesson plan happened to include a quote from her all time idol Coco Chanel.
The most courageous thing you can do is think for yourself. Aloud.
How this amazing girl, realized how much she loved teaching and wants to do it again and again.
I want to tell you how flexibility in my planning allowed a beautiful boy to share with us his wealth of knowledge about chakras. How he brought in the notes he had written up, how he showed us the stones that represent each Chakra and how he then taught us a pose he had chosen to go with each one.
I want to tell you how flexibility in my perspective allowed a boy, with limited awareness of his physical body, to be successful in crow pose by showing him how to do it on his back. I want to tell you how flexibility in not doing everything myself created a bond between 2 girls as they worked together to write out the word of the day and the alignment action.
I want to tell you how holding space allowed a girl to help her friend find words of wisdom to share with the universe, ‘love life and follow your dreams’
I want to tell you how flexibility in changing the rules of a game allowed even the quietest and shyest of children to be in a space that was unknown and unfamiliar and find the power within them to teach a new pose to everyone.
I want to tell you how allowing time and space for growth manifested itself in a tentative smile grow bigger and bigger on the face of the quietest of little angels over the week. How she couldn’t contain herself and giggled with excitement and sheer delight as we played our very last game. And how it came forth in her writing too.
I want to tell you about how flexible this amazing group of children was. How they showed up and engaged fully in what was being presented to them. How they had loud temper tantrums in the pose ‘calm down’, how they held a pose for one minute and then did it again on the other side. How they sang and chanted ‘I am happy, I am good’ and ‘I am the light of my soul, I am light, I am, I am, I am’. How they told us about accepting and staying true to themselves by doing or not doing things that are expected of them because of their gender. How they wrote phrases like, ‘patience now, you’ll get there’, ‘yoga was perfect’, ‘thank you yoga’.
How they told us what yoga means to them:
Yoga is a peaceful place where you can relax and breath
Yoga is patience
Yoga is an exercise where people calm down
How they worked together to created an amazing mandala and chatted and laughed together as they painted rock with the intention of putting their art out into the world.
How they supported each other as they were tested for their bandanas in the Solid Ground Flow, and how they supported each other in-group poses.
CLEAR BOUNDARIES, NO LIMITS!!