This activity came out of a need to define shinning inner light. The
concept seems vague to some kids so I wanted to find a way to connect
emotions with yoga movements in a concrete way. Doing this activity is a
way for kids to verbalize their good qualities. Some kids are very familiar
with their dark sides, and they only hear adults point out what they do
wrong. They have to be able to identify their light sides and what they do
right before they can shine their inner lights. Once they have a few
concrete images to focus on, I think they can shine these attributes as they
do the yoga poses.
Here is a simple art activity for a class with the theme of shining your
inner light, the light within.
1. Remove the label from a water bottle and cut off the bottom.
2. Cut up the sides to make “rays of light”.
3. Have the child describe his/her positive attributes and write each on a piece of torn
4. Glue the tissue paper on the rays.
5. Ask the child to choose one yoga pose from either the pose chips or pose
stickers that best represents the attributes on each ray. It can be a pose
in which he/she can let that quality shine, or a pose the child needs to do
to work on that attribute.
6. To add on to this, ask the child to put the yoga poses in order to make a yoga flow. Add transitional poses if necessary.
7. This is a great activity to support Grounded kids in the Quest for Elevation as they can teach their flow to one another or the entire class.
8. Use a suction cup in the center or tape to hang these Rays of Light in a window to catch the sun and illuminate.
“Whatever follows I AM will find you.” This sentiment can be expressed in so many ways. “Like attracts like,” “Energy follows thought.” However we choose to express it, the belief that our thoughts influence how we feel, act and interact in the world is undeniable. This idea is a rich theme and one I’ve explored deeply in Grounded classes. The following activity can serve as an introduction, a culminating project, or an ongoing art activity throughout a class series. These beautifully telling photos are from a special 3 hour Grounded gathering with some of my long time students and a few brand new ones.
Discuss this concept with your students. Create a list of all the different emotional states they can think of. Share examples from other decks of cards (see resource list). Make sure that the students understand it is natural and important to feel the whole gamut of emotions and that this deck is to serve as a reminder of who they are at the core of their being. A good example to guide this understanding is that the sun is always there, even when it is hiding behind clouds in a thunderstorm. Talk about the power of affirmations. Have the students pick one particular positive heart quality word and ask them to remember a time when they felt that way. When was it? Where were they? How did it feel in their body? Who were they with? Incorporate as many senses as possible into the recall. Repeat this guided visualization often during the process of creating the deck of cards.
What You’ll Need:
- Index Cards – 11 or more per person.
- A box to hold the cards. I used a small gift box typically used to hold jewelry.
- Watercolors & Paint. I included metallic paint.
- Markers & Pens.
- Examples of affirmation cards and a word bank of heart qualities for inspiration.
- Paper for brainstorming.
- Time & space to create.
What To Do:
After brainstorming on paper, write or paint the “I AM” statements on individual index cards. Illustrate and write a sentence that further explains the statement on the same side of the card. Design the other side of the all of the cards alike.
If you’ve never used an affirmation deck or angel cards, I suggest doing so before leading this activity. Then you will be able to incorporate your own experiences and lessons and teach from an authentic place. There are many ways to use the cards. Some people pull a card each morning as a message for the day. Others use the cards to help tune inward to find answers for specific questions.
These Create Your Own Deck of Cards are intended to empower kids with the knowledge that they are in control of their thoughts and innately good, worthy human beings.
How To Use:
Shuffle the deck until you have the urge to stop. Turn over the top card, read it and contemplate the message. While shuffling, if a card happens to drop from the pile, take it as a sign that it is meant to be your card. You can’t make a mistake with these cards because they operate with the law of attraction. This means that you will always pull the card that is right for you at that moment in time. The cards validate what you already know to be true and help you manifest the awesome life you were meant to have.
Music: “I Am” sung by Guru Singh. Album, A Game of Chants
“I Am The Light Of My Soul” & “I Am Happy” & “Sa Ta Na Ma” sung by Snatam Kaur. Album, Feeling Good Today
“I Am Happy, I Am Good” by Shakta Khalsa. Album, Happy.
“I Am What I Am” Grounded Pose (click for ideas)
I Am: Why Two Little Words Mean So Much by Wayne W. Dyer, Kristina Tracy and Stacy Heller Budnick (Mar 15, 2012)
I Think, I Am!: Teaching Kids the Power of Affirmations by Louise Hay, Kristina Tracy and Manuela Schwarz (Oct 15, 2008)
Manifest Your Magnificence (64 Affirmation Cards for Kids 6-12 Years Old) by Susan Howson and Mike Polito (2002)
I want to share some experiences and some trial and errors to encourage teachers to continue with their mission, even when it seems like you’ve hit the wall, or run out of ideas, or question if you are making a difference.
Yes, we all hit the wall. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t know what’s on the other side. The climb over can be tough, but anything that’s easy is just that, easy. Teaching children is a challenge. Teachers need to be able to tap into their own light, with conviction, to put forth their best effort, class after class, year after year. All teachers understand that, right? But, what if you are teaching pre-school children? What if you are introducing them to something brand new and want them to love it so they will continue? What if you were teaching them yoga?
That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve been doing for 7 years. I’m writing this after just completing a week long camp for pre-school children. Ages 3-7. There’s my first typo–7. Way before I started teaching, our mentors such as Marsha Wenig, Yogakids International, put children in the 3-6 age group. That MATTERS. I’ve co-created a program for ages 3-6 for Grounded Yoga, and my partner, Sedef Dion, and I were very conscious of the age appropriate poses, songs, and chants. Sedef was in the teaching arena daily with classes as young as 12 months, and ranging up to 5 years old. Her perspective on “when age matters” was instrumental in our writing the program. We both considered ourselves to be in a labratory, using techniques and poses on different ages to see how they would respond, and our lab trials were successful. Some poses are just not age appropriate for pre-school. Ages 3-6. Please don’t confuse this with “I have a 5 year old that can do Vasisthasana”. So do we. I’m not suggesting that you limit your teaching to a particular set of poses, please push the envelope and when you feel your student is ready, introduce more challenging poses. What I am encouraging here, is that to have a balanced, successful teaching experience, teach to the age before you. Teach to that energy. If you teach a 10 week session to pre-school children, each week will bring a new energy, therefore new challenges. Be ready. Be repetitive, and don’t give into boredom. If you find yourself saying “maybe they can do this”, I bet you they can, but are they ready? The gift of teaching PRE-Grounded to PRE-School is “PRE.” Before. Teach them the basics of good etiquette on a mat, stacking bones over and over again, using laughter to encourage their learning. Don’t over estimate the goodness of teaching basics. When they are ready to take that important step to becoming Grounded, they should be ready.
Back to my typo. 7. I was delighted to see this child in camp, because she has been practicing with me for 3 years! Yes, she started at the ripe age of 4. She was allowed to enroll because she wanted to come so badly. I’m not saying that she didn’t have an amazing experience during camp, she actually benefited because I was able to allow her to “teach” to the other children. Yes, teach. The Grounded programs Quest for Elevation prepares the children to become teachers themselves, and it works. She actually left camp with an advantage on her peers because of this experience. But for me as the teacher, the days were a challenge to not only give her a rewarding experience, but to introduce brand new yoga to the 3 year olds. The basic poses are easy for children to master. The songs and simple chants are fun and engaging. The YogArt projects were simple enough for the range in ages, and the older children learned and embraced them, and as the photo and video shows, Age Matters.
I would never suggest that you not take a teaching position because the age range is out of the limits I’m suggesting here. Teach to all children, whenever you have the opportunity. What I am suggesting, is to be ready. Start with an open mind, and be prepared for the struggles that will show up. Having a 3 year old in your class is one of the greatest gifts a yoga teacher can have. The opportunity to share the joy of yoga for the first time to a child–Priceless. Having a wide age range of students will be a challenge. It will be hard. It will make you a better teacher. When that class is your class, walk into the experience ready. Ready for an amazing journey with obstacles and triumphs. Find your breath, and TEACH.
As Earth Day approaches this year, I am struck by what it means to truly foster Peace on this planet. I remember as a child, learning about anti-nuclear protestors who chained themselves to fences and were forcibly removed and jailed. These brave souls became my heroines and heroes in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. I was moved to tears singing Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” and hearing stories of civil disobedience and the message of non-violent resistance. Later in the 1990’s, when I danced barefoot on Earth Day, a lump would form in my throat when I celebrated each small victory (and the Gigantic Hearts) of environmental activists who sacrificed so much to save a single tree and worked to preserve open space for our children’s children. Peace.
Last week my seven year old son earned his yellow bandana as a Grounded yogi. Much moved, I watched him tell his yoga students a story. He described a girl who wanted her father’s attention during her father’s important meeting. The father wished to keep his daughter occupied, so he tore off the page of a magazine with a picture of the Earth and ripped it into pieces. Knowing that his daughter was not very adept at geography, he was certain the puzzle would keep her busy for quite some time. The little girl happened to notice that a picture of a person was on the back of the picture of the globe, so she simply put together the picture of the person and then flipped it over to display the completed picture of the world. Her father was astounded at how little time it had taken her to complete the picture, so he asked her how she did it. She replied, “It was so easy, Daddy! Just turn it over and look at the other side.” She further explained, “I put together the person, and the whole Earth came together, too.” Yoga teaches us that we can bring peace to the planet by first accessing the peace within and then sharing it with others. Peace.
Today my heroines and heroes are the children to whom I teach yoga. I am inspired by their stories every day, and I am moved to tears and action as we celebrate together. I dance barefoot with them and piece together the puzzles of our lives. These brave souls teach me how to stay aligned on (and with) the Earth, how to sing, and how to stand up for what is right and true.
One such messenger wrote the following statement about what YOGA IS…. She inscribed this message of Peace in about five minutes. When she shared her words and her Gigantic Heart, I felt a lump form in my throat, and I was reminded of how imperative it is to continue to spread this peace to others. And, so today… I pass along this third graders message to you. Peace.
Yoga is Peace. No fighting is involved. As you stretch out, you realize how peaceful it is. It is also love. Pure love is a light inside of you. In your dreams it makes a warm glow in your heart. As the light spreads, peace and love spread. It spreads all over the universe. War stops. The injuries are cured. For a moment, there is no such thing as rage or wounds. The light can only be spread by your peace and love. Practice this strategy in yoga. I dream of a world full of love and peace. A world without rage or wounds. And that can only be true if you start it. The warm light is glowing. More people are starting yoga.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti… and Happy Earth Day, too.