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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.

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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?”

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 Part of my practice is to create sacred spaces where I honor my guides, my teachers, a theme, what I am manifesting, what I am inspired by, and what I am teaching.

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This ritual helps me remember my intention, connect to the deeper teachings which I take quite seriously, and to myself {which I don’t }.

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My routine usually entails selecting pose cards or chips, children’s drawings, a poem or passage, photos of my heroes and heroines, and my particular notes and books about the message I am working on to share with my students.  I usually add stones and malas.

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When I gaze upon these creations, I see the world differently and know what I’m opening to.

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When I then close my eyes, I see myself differently. I know what I’m stepping into.

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I hold this space to focus my intention on the best outcome for my creations and projects. It works to enliven and build more life force in my body, lift the clouds of doubt, and sharpen my mind so it can penetrate beneath the surface.

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I start to gain a higher perspective and feel brighter and more clear and present~ and perhaps a bit silly. That just happens to be my wish for the children.

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Joseph Campbell says, ​”​[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.​”​

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I want my students to experience themSELVES. I do this practice so I can give them that.

Oh, Say Can you See? The Sacred and the Silly~ Please share your sacred {and silly} spaces with us. What objects have you brought together to manifest your creative projects?

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Photos by Rachel Schattle & Annabelle Finley, my brilliant and creative interns.

UP-UP-UP With a Fish!

At the local Barnes & Noble families joined together for storytime and yoga to celebrate Dr. Suess’s birthday and Read Across America Day.  I was inspired by Dr. Suess’s “The Cat In The Hat” and Co-Founder, Cheryl Crawford’s Grounded Blog Post, “Suess Sutra 1-1: Big Picture Play of Conciousness”.

We tuned into our highest Self and listened to our small, limited and fearful side, inviting both to play with one another in a little game of “UP-UP-UP With a Fish!”. In Cheryl Crawford’s blog post, “Suess Sutra 1-1: Big Picture Play Of Consciousness” we are reminded that once we tune into our Highest Consciousness we begin to understand why we are here and where we should go. Our Highest Consciousness watches over us and helps steer us in the highest direction. By creating a lesson with a series of poses families invited their Highest Self (The Cat) and limited Self (the fish) to play together. By doing this we created space within ourselves by getting wider with each breath in and taller with each breath out. Now that’s elevation!

“Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW! It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how.”

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Close your eyes if you wish and breathe into your heart. Lets introduce 3 tricks along with the Cat that will help the fish along the way. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Breathe into your heart. Breath out through your nose. Continue to follow your breath. By bringing your hands together and placing your pinky and thumb fingers together, opening your three middle fingers in Lotus Breath lift the fish Up-Up-Up and support him along the way. Remind him that he will not fall,

“Have no fear!
You will not fall.
You will not fall.
I will hold you up high…”

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What I did and did not expect. A paradox.

I expected Dr. Seuss books to be the inspiration for planning our week of yoga camp. I did not expect to discover the richness and fullness of ideas and themes that could be found in just one of his books.

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I expected the kids to journal, to reflect on the yoga teachings, and to record their thoughts and feelings in some way. I did not expect the amazing, wonderful journal that the amazing and wonderful BobbiJo created for them.

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I expected the children to be able to create a list of feeling, emotions and heart qualities that they would refer to for their art projects. I did not expected the length of their list, 50 words long, and the depth and quality of the words that they called out, one at a time as they lay there on their mats that very first morning. Words like; grateful, sensitive, passionate, guilty, warm hearted, trusting, confused, dis-connected.

I expected the designing and making of tags for their banners and their community project to be enjoyable and fun. Why wouldn’t it be? Who doesn’t love a bit of coloring, sticking and gluing every now and then? I did not expect the limitless creativity, the focus, the concentration and the pleasure they found in sitting around each morning, creating something from themselves.

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I expected the children to have fun playing ‘The Waiting Place Game’. We based the game on the part in the book ‘Oh, the places you’ll Go!’ where everyone is just waiting. The premise of the game was that you have to be daring; if your not daring, if you don’t allow yourself to be engaged and vulnerable then you are not centered, you are in a slump, you on the outside looking in, you must go to the waiting place. We dared the kids to try a new pose, we dared them to ask for help, we dared them to do a pose on the center mat and we dared them to teach that pose to others.

I did not expect how revealing the game would be. How Clara didn’t dare to do Mountain Laughter pose, it was too embarrassing, and went to the waiting place instead. How she laughed loudly while sitting there and shouted out “I need to un-slump myself!” How quiet and shy some of them were when asking for help and how great they were at making partner poses together.

How Lizzie whispered to her sister, “I am definitely going to the waiting place for dare #4” and then allowed herself to be daring and taught Dark Seed Light to the whole group.

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I did not expect to be lost for words trying to describing how amazingly brilliant they were at creating and sharing their own games.

I expected the children to need help with design ideas and the making of their t-shirts. I did not expect them to be so fiercely independent, so focused and so sure of how they wanted to create and express themselves.

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I did expect the banners to be great. I was excited about the project. The children were going to be working on them all week. They would be decorating their driftwood sticks with duck tape and ribbons, decorating both sides of their felt flag, hanging their heart quality tags from the flag and having a parade at the end of the week. I did not expect the sheer delight and excitement they expressed as they finally put all the different elements of their banners together. I did not expect them, on finishing, to go around the studio planting their banner on a yoga mat and calling out “My Yoga-land!”

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I did expect the adults at the studio to like the community project. It was something beautiful that everyone could connect and interact with. I did not expect the yoga teachers at the studio to be so touched by it, so much so that one of them wanted MORE and so we made some more heart quality sticks to span the entire length of the front windows.

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I did expect a good week. This was the second year of teaching a Summer Yoga Camp together and we had done a lot of planning, organizing and collecting materials. I did expect us to wear the same t-shirt everyday! (A tradition we have carried on since seeing Cheryl and Anabel do this at our first Grounded Training together)

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I did not expect the sense of ease I felt throughout the week. The comfort, stability and groundedness I found in our partnership, the way we fell naturally into taking on different roles and the fluidity of our transitions between activities.

Moving forward, I expect us to grow and develop the kids yoga program at Yoga Montclair AND I look forward to the wisdom, learning and growth to be found in the unexpected.

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