It was my second day at the Baldwin, and both classes, although based on the same principles, took on such different characteristics. Grade 2, my first class, was loud, energetic and full of laughter, while Grade 1, the second class, was quiet, focused and full of smiles (this mainly happened because we had a MCAs testing right next door and we had to tone it down).
But both classes were so fulfilling and joyful!
The basic layout for the day:
Started by playing Pather Panchali by Ravi Shankar, which comes from a movie of the same name. If you have never seen it, you should. It is one of the greatest Indian films ever made and is one of my favorite movies of all time. I shared seeing it with my mom on many occasions-and I cried every time!
I created a flow using the music in the background and it was both calming and energizing. We flowed through sun salutations, floor work, standing poses and times of stillness and silence, using child’s pose as our home base. Child’s pose is a great pose to bring the energy down, find a time to snuggle deep inside yourself, slow down your breathing and relax muscles that have just been used.
I asked the kids if they knew what meditation was:
1. Calms your mind
2. Sitting still and relaxing
3. Floating (um,no, that is called levitation)!
4. Thinking of only one thing so it quiets all the other chatter in your brain (Wow! That was a good answer…How did you know that?…You told us last week!)
Today I taught the “Sa Ta Na Ma” meditation. The ancient yogis believed there were 5 sounds in the universe “s”, “t”, “n”, “m” and “a”-so combined they make the chant “Sa Ta Na Ma”. With “Sa” press the pinky and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With “Ta” press the ring finger and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With “Na” press the middle finger/tall man and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With “Ma” press the pointer finger and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands. For the chant, I have the kids say it out loud 4-8 times, in whisper 4-8 times, in head (still with finger movements) 4-8 times, in whisper repeat and out loud repeat and end with a full breath in arms rising above the head and a full breath out, hands to heart center.
I also used the book “My Daddy Is A Pretzel” by Baron Baptiste. I wanted the classrooms to know about the book because it is a fun book for kids to self initiate yoga poses. We read the story and did the poses in the book (We especially stopped on bridge pose and spent a long time creating the pose. I went by each child and placed my finger in their upper back to help them locate the area to lift from-some children who I felt would understand, I also told them to lift at their sternum, but I did this by touching the area and having them lift. The biggest difficulty was having them keep their shoulders on the ground). I also decided to forgo plow pose as we are doing these classes on hard linoleum floors and I really did not feel it was a safe pose for the kids. I explained how the neck could be in jeopardy in this pose and then we moved on. I opened up the floor for kids to offer up poses that were some how related to their parent’s careers…one funny one was: “hand cuff pose” which was kind of like bridge with your hands encased by your feet below your body, for a father who works in the courts; and then I said if my son was here, he would choose Dancer’s Pose because his mom is a dancer.
In grade two, we danced to Happy Jio, which is moving meditation I learned from the wonderful, radiant Shakta Kaur Khlasa. You can buy the song from the Radiant Child Music CD Happy.
For final relaxation, I led the kids through a rainbow mediation that I adapted from a Buddhist Meditation for children:
Wiggling fingers and toes; rubbing hands together, placing warm palms on closed eyes and opening then inside the closed hands and allowing the light to enter slowly; curling up on the right side of the body; coming to an easy seated position; hands to heart center “Have a wonderful rest of your day; Namaste!”