With school starting just around the corner, I was happy to be able to read and digest the wisdom imparted by Lee Guerette in her book Cognitive Yoga. Through exercises and insights that Lee has developed through her years of working with middle school students, she offers teachers ways to make their teaching more effective and students are made more aware of their own reactivity to themselves and to those around them. This leads to a well-nourished, more relaxed, thriving learning environment.
I loved the chapter about Setting Up A Serene Classroom that explains how subtle changes in the classroom’s physical environment can have huge results in creating a calming atmosphere where the teacher can spend her time teaching rather then controlling. Students do not even need to know that the elements are balanced in order for it to be effective. My other favorite part of the book, was her take on the Gunas, or the great states of energy, and how the interplay of these states of energy defines the character of someone or something. The three states which are sattva : goodness, constructive, harmonious and still, rajas: passionate, active, full of desire and restless, and tamas: dull, oblivious, negative and sluggish. All of these energies are present in each one of us and the purpose of identifying the different gunas is to help the students to be more aware of their own physical and mental states plus that of the surrounding environment. The coup de grâce is her likening each one of these energies to an animal personality: Satva= swan, Raja=tiger and tamas=sloth. Such a great teaching moment for kids and really so useful in my yoga classes in the public school environment.
Cognitive Yoga is focused on making school life accessible and successful for all students and teachers and on how to make life work constructively within the school environment. Ms. Guerrette shows her belief that all kids possess a gift for the world and by clearing the way for educators to do their jobs, the students will be able to grow, train and nourish this gift. Teachers in turn will find profound fulfillment. A phrase that comes to mind when I take in Ms. Guerette’s words is “Not knowing is different thany not knowing yet!”
I highly recommend this book for new and seasoned teachers alike and believe should be in every school library.
Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Cognitive Yoga. All opinions expressed are my own.