Always Be Dancing

The Art of Movement for Every/body & Mindful Book Reviews By Eve


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Literary Inspiration

 These are the books I have been exploring in class and on my own:

The Silence Above

Nourishing Teachers Strengthening Classrooms-A Morning Of Yoga And Mindfulness

Book Review: My Amazing Day: A Celebration Of Wonder And Gratitude

Yoga Card Decks

Yoga For A Brainy Day


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Book review: My Amazing Day: a celebration of wonder and gratitude

CoverPhoto

Book review: My Amazing Day: a celebration of wonder and gratitude by Karin Fisher-Golton, Lori A. Cheung and Elizabeth Iwamiya

An “Amazing Day” has occurred! This is the first time anyone has reached out to me to review their book, so to kick things off, I am eternally grateful to Karin Fisher-Golton for reaching out to me on the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Face Book page and asking me to review her book. Thank you! thankyoume

Through the simple concept of giving thanks, this beautiful chunky board book, which is great for little hands, creates a sense of wonder through simple phrases that teach compassion, empathy, kindness and calmness. From the first “Today was amazing” the book is relatable to very young children and can be reiterated throughout the day, connecting daily life experiences to those in the book. This book is a daily mindfulness practice by playfully appreciating seeing, feeling, touching, smelling, tasting, sensing, experiencing, noticing, focusing and exploring.

This is an adorable book. It is a feel good, slice of happiness. I can’t wait to share it with the children at the child care center where I teach yoga. I recommend you share it with a child in your life.

I want to add a special shout out to the Lori A. Cheung for the photographs/illustrations. They beautifully capture the child’s sense of curiosity, joy and amazement!

Full Disclosure: The authors provided me with a copy of My Amazing Day to review. All opinions expressed are my own. iflew

Photographs from “My Amazing Day” copyright Lori A. Cheung, 2013


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Book Review: Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequence by Michael Chissick and Sarah Peacock

9781848192836Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequences celebrates diversity! It is a marvelous teaching and parenting resource and is easy to follow and fully adaptable for anyone wanting to introduce yoga and movement to children. The stories are carefully crafted and are full of beautifully descriptive language and delightful illustrations that brings the characters and scenes to life. The positive affirmations will have children feeling up beat, confident and able to respect the uniqueness in themselves and all others. As an extra bonus, there are free down loadable posters of the various sun sequences presented in the book. This children’s yoga book will inspire a love of yoga in all children and is an asset for anyone considering teaching yoga to children. phpThumb

 

 

 

Please check out the author Michael Chissick’s website Yoga at School. It is full of so many useful and creative ways to bring yoga to children of all abilities.

Chapter 4 Crab

Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Seahorses Magical Sun Sequence to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 


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Eve’s Awesome Yoga comes to Mini Miracles Child Care Center, Framingham, MA

I was so happy with the successful launch of Always Be Dancing Mindful Movement at Mini Miracles Child Care Center, Natick. The students range from 15 month to 5.5 years and I was immediately charmed by each and everyone of them. The support staff is awesome. They are engaged and engaging as are the kids. I feel so fortunate to be creating this partnership with Mini Miracles Child Care Center and RCS Learning Center. I look forward to cultivating this wonderful friendship!

The launch of the Little Yogi Yoga program had us learning the differences between relaxed and active states in our breath, bodies and minds through songs, games, stories, dancing, moving and sitting still.

Things we learned (note: this is a grouping of all the things we did, through the breadth of all the classes. Everything was offered in an age appropriate manner. All concepts and exercises fit each age group. Modifications were applied) :

The Chimepp347: Ring the chime and still and quiet with listening ears, to hear the reverberation, the echo, of the bell and just breath. We don’t even have to think of how to breath, because we all breath naturally. We are breathing and we are alive. But now I am asking you to really notice that you breathing. Think about breathing in, filling yourself up like a balloon, and feel yourself breathing out, feeling relaxed, and calm and focused. Let students try ringing the chime. One of the things often noted was how surprised the kids were at how heavy the chimes are.

Hoberman Sphere: This is a specialty item. It is an isokinetic structure that resembles a geodesic dome but is capable of folding down to a fraction of its normal size by the scissor-like action of its joints (the geodesic dome was created by Buckminster Fuller and I had the ultimate enjoyment of having one in my bedroom while I was growing up. All I had in my room was a bed, a bureau, a blackboard, a wooden stove and sink and the while center of the room was taken up by a wooden geodesic dome, with a rope and a circular wooden swing strung down the center on which I could swing round and round inside the arc of the jungle gym. We used to cover the whole thing with blankets and pretend it was a cave). It resembles the action of the belly in deep belly breathing, a very calming and relaxing way to breath. Inhale as you gently expand the sphere, exhale as you gently descend the sphere. Let the kids open and close once and then pass to the next person. Reminding them that it is a gently toy and that we want to breath slowly like a turtle.

Deep Belly Breathing: Place your hands on your belly. Breath in: Feel how your belly fills up like a beabdominal-breathingach ball; breath out, feel your belly soften. Gently close your eyes. I will add next time, having the kids lie down and place a bean bag on their belly and have them lift and drop it along with their breath. This can also be done with a rubber duck, and they can pretend it is riding the waves.

Blowing Pom-Poms: At first I tried this with small straws, but I found them to be a distraction. We just lay on our bellies and blew on the pom-poms (each student had their own), trying to send them sailing across the floor. Lots of laughs, slithering, crawling, breathing going on!

Fly Like a Butterfly: Butterfly Pose with song & movements. color-3B-butterfly%2872%29[1]

Yogini Went To Sea: Tapping energy points on the forehead, arm, knee, belly and coordinating them all.

Clapping Name Game: Opening circle game that uses rhythm, counting, patterning, sequencing, socializing within a group, taking turns, listening, and creative thinking. Clap the number of syllables in my name, each child’s name and any support staff present. Help the children count how many syllables in their won name. At the end of class ask, who had the least? The most? What one was most common?

I Am Happy Meditation: Sitting, criss-cross yoga sauce. Pointer fingers stretched out and using thumb to hold other fingers curled
I am happy; I am good. I am happy; I am good (Shake pointer fingers)
A-E-I-O (finger tips together at the belly button) ; A-E-I-O (finger tips together by the heart) ; A-E-I-O (finger tips together by the forehead); U (hands reaching up to sky).
Ha-ha-ha-ha (finger tips together by the forehead) ; He-he-he-he (finger tips together by the heart) ; Ho-ho-ho-ho (finger together at the belly button) ;Hooooooo (pronounced “who” hands reaching our by the knees). I have finger tips join as a brain gym activity.

Little White DLittle-White-Duck-9780316733977uck song & movements: Rendering of the version that Raffi sings, along with the board book. As we read, we added movements to the story.

Pose Series: **The accompanying yoga cards are from the Yoga Education Resources: Creative Yoga Games sets 1 & 2, by Edna Reinhardt 

Final Rest Pose: This is the classic last pose of every yoga class. The idea is to lie perfectly still, legs slightly apart, feet dropping open, arms slightly away from the body, palms facing up the ceiling. You then follow the breath in and out for anywhere from 1 minute up to…..well in a “perfect” world that is what rest pose looks like, but that is not the reality of a children’s class. I gently remind stillness, focus, calmness, relaxation….

Namaste: Thank you!

Eve

 


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Always be dancing Teen Yoga Day 1: What is yoga?

Fall teen yoga session begins at the McAuliffe Charter School Framingham,MA.

I have 8 lovely students.

Happy Names

Happy Names

Class started with a focused breathing exercise just to get the kids sitting up, paying attention and focusing inwards. I calmly explained the activity I had planned, a silent activity, where they would write their name on a piece of paper and then decorate it with a happy face, a happy design, something that made them feel happy. Then, one at a time, we said our name and then went to the board and wrote down a word or phrase that answered the question

What is yoga?

What is yoga?

“What is yoga?”

Relaxing

Happy

Stress relieving

Flexibility

Stretching

Balance

Strengthening your core

Meditating

Kinesthetic

I led them through a slow flow practice, naming prominent poses in both English and Sanskrit  so that they become familiar with names. We balanced, strengthened, stretched to work on flexibility, we were observant doers, we laughed and after the second tree pose, the quiet and calm that filled the room was evident by all.

Lying down at the end. Meditation in the form of a focused breathing exercise: Just noticing the inhale (tip of nose, back of throat, chest, belly); just noticing the exhale (top of nose, back of throat, chest and belly); noticing both the inhale and the exhale. Letting thoughts come, as they too are a part of the meditation and then letting them gently dispel, like your finger stirring up still water and the ripples just floating away, coming back to stillness. Consciously cresting into Savasana. At the end, noticing which side of the nostril they are breathing more strongly out of and then rolling to that side, curling up like a baby, knees are bent at hip-height. Coming to a seated position. Focus through the brow point.  Cross the hands right over left over the heart center in the center of the chest. This is called Garuda Mudra. Giving yourself a heart hug.

Feel your heart beat. Keep the chest lifted slightly.

Garuda Mudramudra-garuda

Thank you-Namaste

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Book Review: Cognitive Yoga: Mindful Stategies for Teachers by Lee Guerette

Cognitive Yoga

 

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.


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Book Review: The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP

The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP

The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP

I was so excited to receive my copy of The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo MD, FAAP. I am currently creating and implementing a yoga and mindfulness program through Open Spirit Center’s Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms project into the Framingham, MA public school system and this books title grabbed me and I knew it would become an invaluable resource.

The chapters are clearly thought through and touch on everything from every day stressors to in-school stressors to home stressors and the exercises offered help you to flex your mindfulness muscles with techniques to awaken the wisdom inside you and like all exercise, lead you to a sense of well-being, inner calmness, increased kindness to yourself and to others and increased resilience to stress.

The questions posed in the book are there to aid you in identifying your own experiences and to help guide you to deeper self-reflection. I love the Teen Voices boxes as they offer personal stories in a teen voice that express strong testaments to other teens. This book does not lecture but rather offers simple strategies to access mindfulness in daily life. This book gives teens the means to embrace the now engaging them to look for the wisdom and strength they possess to heal themselves from all that life throws at them.

I highly recommend this book to teens and adults alike. It is so accessible an user friendly and just full of insight and meaningful and practical ways to make the mindfulness connection. There are many great ideas that I have already stared using in my own teen and education based mindfulness program. I see this book as a necessary addition to libraries, to schools, to yoga teachers, to parents and to anyone who is or who works with teenagers.

Full Disclosure: The authors provided me with a copy of The Mindful Teen to review. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Day One Dance in the School 2015: What is mindfulness and how does it fit into the school day?

Day One Dance in the School 2015: 8b8b9-img_0747

What is mindfulness and how does it fit into the school day?

Maria Baldwin School, Cambridge, MA

Megan Powers & Karma Paoletti’s 2nd grade classrooms

A great opening for my in-school yoga and mindfulness program is to take the school’s core values or credo and work it into the mindfulness theme.

The Maria L. Baldwin’s CORE VALUES

We, the students of the Maria L. Baldwin School:

• Always give our best effort. (determination-a great word that self implies action rather than stagnation)

• Stand up for ourselves and others. (loving-kindness, compassion, empathy and peace. See the four abodes of yoga)

• Are kind, positive and safe. (Ahimsa *see Yamas)

• Treat others the way we want to be treated. (Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha* See the Yamas)

• Work together to make a fun learning community. (loving-kindness, compassion, empathy and peace. See the four abodes of yoga)

love-compassion-joy-peaceMindfulness teaches loving-kindness, compassion, empathy and peace (Calmness and levelheadedness) and those are the foundation of a strong school community where teachers are nourished and classrooms are strengthened.

Today’s class started with the making of Breathing Sticks (When I teach a math based yoga curriculum, I bring in my abacus and show the kids how to use it. Also, for those classes, I call the sticks Breathing Abacuses) Here you use a large pipe cleaner, knot one end, slide on 5 beads and then knot the other end. This is a great visual for the students to use to follow for 5-deep, relaxing breaths. Using a nice slow, but steady inhale through the nose, slide the bead ½ way down the pipe cleaner as you are breathing; then a nice and easy exhale through the nose as it completes its journey to the other side. I usually lead the process one full-time through and then ask for a “turtle breath” leader and the group then focuses its attention on that person. Each student moves the beads on their own stick while following the leader. This great exercise was taught to me by Elizabeth Goranson of Stretch What Matters and I think it fits beautifully into a classroom based program and can easily be implemented by the regular classroom teacher.

Mindfulness is something that can be practiced every day throughout the day. Using mindfulness as a strategy to ease transitions works for all students and faculty alike. The sticks are a great resource because even if they are not available for use, their image can be called up in the mind and still be used as a focal point. At any point, such as the start of the day, the start of a class, the end of a class, have your students stop what they are doing, sit up with a straight spine, although not too straight to be rigid, but up right and awake, close their eyes or not, and take five breaths. Have them become aware of the breath, such as how it feels (It is cool as it enters and warm as it exits. Is it in the belly or the chest? Is it deep or shallow). Doing this will help both you and them anchor yourselves into the present moment…to be in the NOW. These few breaths will help you become aware of your body (notice tension, ease, tightness, calmness), your emotional state (frustrated, bored, excited, joyful, angry), your energetic state (tired, on edge, energetic…) and what is going on in your mind (busy, clam, cloudy, clear….). There are no right or wrong answers, this is just a time to notice and it only takes about 3 minutes. Just starting your day with these 3 minutes will actually allow you to have more productive time in your classroom; it will not be time wasted.Eve's _IMG_0799

After completing our breath work, I like to check-in with the students to see how they are feeling. They usually like to share their emotional, energetic or physical energy. I also ask, What is yoga? And get answers such as exercise, stretching, it calms you down, and What is meditation? Sitting quietly and not talking, Sitting like this (and they show a mudra), relaxing your mind….

Today I taught the Sa-Ta-Na-Ma meditation. The moving of the fingers and the repetitive chant is a great way to put thought out of the mind with little effort. I always follow Shakta Kaur Khalsa of Radiant Child Yoga‘s suggestion of the sequence: out loud, in whisper, in head with hand movements only, in whisper and then out loud again. With this age group I generally have them it 8x in each sequential stage.

Warm-Up:

seated easy twist (can be with or without partners)

cow and cat (meow) to ½ scorpion balance to pointer dog balance to one-legged bow pose (both sides)

child’s pose

Downward Dog to 3-legged dog (wag leg like a tail woof woof) to bend knees, look at hands, jump forward to hands

Stand Up

Sun salute-full body warm up, a great way to wake your body up for the day

Mountain-to up mountain to chair pose to ski racer pose to standing child pose to lifted chest, knees bent to forward fold (2x)

On second time send right leg back for high lunge (float hands) to low lunge (arms up and head up-look at hands) to moving forward, put weight on front foot and float back leg up (standing split)-float one hand at a time, then try both step into plank press to downward dog-jump through and repeat sun salutation, then lunges on left side. After 2nd plank, float slowly to the floor and then rest in crocodile pose.

Locust

Tree Series

Yogini Went To Sea (end by floating to floor)*Moving meditation that stimulates meridians taught to me by Shakta Kaur Khalsa of radiant Child Yoga

Lie on back, hug knees into chest

Stretch legs to ceiling (this is the version of candle stick pose I use in a classroom situation-no trauma for the necks and backs and it gets the legs over the heart), roll ankles, point and flex feet

Lay out on backs, prepare for relaxation

Deep relaxation exercise:

DSC3899The Post Card Rack of Happy Memories (Adapted from an exercise taught to me by Peter DiMuro).

Lets start by taking in a few deep breaths together. Allow yourself to feel your breath coming in and out. Focus your breath into your belly. Let yourself go and allow yourself to rest calmly. Imagine a post card rack in front of you, like when you go on vacation and you are looking to send cards to someone, but on this rack, are postcards with pictures of you having happy times. These happy times can be with your family, with friends, by yourself, with an animal, they can be from actual vacations, or just a good time at home, they can be of your favorite place to read, to relax, they can be indoors or outdoors….). Now settle your eyes on one card, it does not have to be your favorite one just anyone your eyes rest on. Think about this happy time…how old were you? What’s the temperature? The smell? The colors? Let your self be wrapped up by all the sensations of this moment. You are safe, loved and relaxed.

I then initiate savasana with a ring of the chimes. I try to give these kids a 5 minute savasana. Three chimes to end.

Explanation of Namaste– the light inside of me, shines to the light inside of you. And by yu saying this, you are saying the same to me. This ultimately means, thank you!

Namaste


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Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms: A Valentine’s Day Yoga Love Story

Anthony's Valentine to himself!

Anthony’s Valentine to himself!

A Valentine’s Day Yoga Love Story:

Love and happiness
Love and happiness
Love and happiness
Love and happiness

Make you want to dance, love and happiness~Al Green

Valentine’s Day is a great day to explore love and happiness, not only in a boyfriend-girlfriend way, but in the way that you look at the way that love yourself and figure out what makes you happy.

I started the 7th graders yoga class by handing out small pieces of paper, on each one, I had drawn a small heart in red ink. I asked them to remember back to our MLK class where I had them make up a list of 10 people who they loved. I said, on this list can be parents, siblings, grandmas and grandpas, other family members, friends, anyone living or passed, a pet, even someone who they love but who does not know this…after a few minutes of contemplation, I brought to their attention the need for their own name to be on that list. That to be able to truly love another, you had to be able to first love yourself. That’s not to say you are going to love everything that you do, but that in the inner core, in the true depths of your being, you have to love yourself and know what brings you happiness.

I then had them write themselves a love note.

It could be as simple as:

“Dear Eve, I love you so much!

Lovingly yours,

Eve”

This was to be my call back point throughout the class. Especially when I would have them in some heart opening pose or a body hugging pose…”remember that note you wrote to yourself and feel that love.”

I finished off the day by reading “Happiness Is A Warm Puppy” by Charles Schultz. It was written in 1962 but its messages are sweet and simple and oh so true today (well maybe not the one where happiness is a thirty-five cent for a movie, fifteen cents for popcorn and a nickel for a bar of candy..that one is definitely dated!). I wasn’t sure where the reading of the book was going to take us, because I had actually brought it to read to group of special ability kids, but it just came naturally to read it to this group too.

I just started reading and it initiated a line of communication and opened the kids up to sharing about things that make them happy, especially happy memories…

These where some of our favorites:

  1. Happiness is a thumb and a blanket. Talks of thumbs, blankies, hair twirling…

  2. Happiness is a pile of leaves. One of my happiest memories is driving down the West Roxbury Parkway with my son Anthony, right after they had piled up all the fall leaves-there must have been about 50 massive piles, lining the green-way. Initially I felt rushed and was going to drive right by them, even after Anthony asked to stop and jump in them, but I changed my mind in a split second, pulled the car to the side of the road and we jumped! Its not cushy or soft, but it was truly one of the best feelings in life, one of my happiest memories.

  3. Happiness is a warm puppy. This goes without saying, although some of the kids substituted cats, rabbits, etc…

  4. Happiness is an “A” on your spelling test. Everyone knows the feeling of a good grade!

  5. Happiness is three friends in a sandbox…with no fighting. A personal one for me again…no one likes sand in their eyes or having a big bucket of sand dumped on their head.

  6. Happiness is getting together with your friends. Goes without saying!

  7. Happiness is lots of candles. Well, if your older, I say the reverse would be true. A good time to laugh about age perspective!

  8. Happiness is being able to reach the doorknob. Thinking about things that we are able to accomplish as we grow, and a funny side note by me…this morning, after having lived in our house now for five years, my son was in the mud room and looked up at a wall hanging and noted “Wow, we have a mirror in here!” Now I am not sure if that is because he has finally grown tall enough to see the mirror, or did he honestly just realize it was there!

  9. Happiness is knowing all the answers. Well no one knows all the answers and it would be pretty boring if you did.

  10. Happiness is a night light. Once again, happy childhood memories-even for those who still like the night light…or the blankie…or the thumb.

  11. Happiness is walking in the grass in your bare feet. Sensory happiness…thoughts of lush green grass, brown crunchy grass…the smell of grass….the colors…the wind  in the grass…tall grass…short grass..

  12. Happiness is one thing to one person and another thing to another person. THE ULTIMATE TRUTH AND RESPECT FOR YOURSELF AND ALL THOSE AROUND YOU!

IMG_2771

We ended the class with a Loving-Kindness meditation (also called a Metta meditation). The first phase of the Loving-Kindness meditation, is to focus attention on yourself because as I mentioned earlier, you need to love yourself first and foremost. I used the “All Is Well” card from the “Yoga Pretzels (Yoga Cards) by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish. I instructed the kids to relax back, close their eyes and go inside. Lying down, we first focus our attention on our breath coming in and then out of our bodies. Notice the cool breath in and the warm breath out. Notice the filing up of the body with air, like a balloon, on the breath in and the deflating, softening on the breath out. Notice the energy in, notice the energy out. It is so important to first sit with yourself, to notice yourself, before beginning a meditation You need to know where you are, to allow yourself to just be. Asking them to hear my what I say and to allow these words to wash over them, to say them softly back in their heads, to allow the feeling that All Is Well to be.

May I be safe and loved.

May I be happy and healthy.

May I be kind and caring.

May I know that all is well.

After allowing these words to sink in, directing loving-kindness to yourself, we then bring to mind someone from our Ten People/Animals Who I Love List. And then repeat these phrases of Loving-Kindness directing them to this person/animal.

As we continued on we added in more loved ones into our thoughts, the whole school community, the whole community of Framingham, the world….

I presented the same class to my next group of students, the special ability class, but adapted it to fit their needs. As in the first class, I talked about Love and Happiness to get the class going, but I used it as a lead into to our checking in for our daily feelings. I explained that love is a feeling, just like happiness, anger, sadness, glee. I also explained how important is was to love ourselves and to accept ourselves and I then had everyone wrap their arms around themselves, give themselves a big hug, all the while I saying phrases, such as, “I love you!” “You are awesome!” “You deserve a great big hug, so I am going to give it to you!”

We followed with our breathing sticks and then our “I Am Happy, I Am Good” meditation. I love the flow of these exercises with the kids. The mediation is truly one of my favorite and so well received activities. Everyone does it, everyone gets into it…it is so special!

After our series of yoga poses…where I also kept adding in the feeling of love and happiness, we moved onto the reading of “Happiness Is A Warm Puppy”. This was so well received! These kids also opened up and shared stories and feelings. It was so beautiful. What I really enjoyed was how much the aides joined in to. It was a really nice day of community in the class. Lots of shared laughs and feelings of love and happiness really permeated the room.

Our final relaxation was a simple Metta meditation where I read the phrases form the card just having them think of themselves and everyone in the room (and the few students who were missing where definitely brought into the present when Julia-a girl who needs assistive technology to verbally communicate-kept repeating Dynasty’s name-her best friend who was not there that day..it made everyone smile and feel warm and snugly!).

What a day! I’m lovin’ it!

Savaaaahhhhsana

Savaaaahhhhsana


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Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms: A morning of yoga and mindfulness

Little Helpers

                Little Helpers

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to bring yoga and mindfulness into a first grade classroom at the McCarthy Elementary School in Framingham, MA. Since September, I have been bringing yoga and mindfulness to the Fuller Middle School through the wonderful non-profit Open Spirit’s Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms project. We received a very generous grant from the Massachusetts Women’s Missionary Union for me to work with both the Special Needs and the typical population at the Fuller Middle School. It is so wonderful to see that other schools in the Framingham system are also interested in joining in on this project! Framingham is an amazing, open minded, positive approach school system! I have found my THING for sure!

  Today’s Yoga Class

1. Check-In: How are you feeling?; the Guidelines for Good Yoga Class Behavior; What is Yoga?; Child’s Pose.

2. Breath-work: Hoberman Sphere breath; What is meditation?

3.  Meditation: ” I am happy; I am Good” *

4. Warm-Up: bumpy camel, washing machine with Sat, Nam (explain that “nam” means “I”-you, your name and “sat” means “my truth”-I often use the example that if you lie and you get away with it,  the only person who you cannot hide the truth from is yourself. You will always know your truth), cat/cow, child’s pose, morning cup of coffee….

5. Yoga Story**

6. Cool Down (end of yoga story)

7. Savasana

8. Yoga Dance/Meditation: Yogini Went to Sea

9. Closing/Community Hand Squeeze Circle

* ” I am happy; I am good” meditation (my own spin, using vowel sounds and laughter yoga, on the meditation with the same name by Shakta Khalsa):

2x out loud (but with a quiet voice), 2x whisper, 2x in head (but continue hand movements), 2x whisper, 2x out loud (on the final time, I like to change the saying to “I am happy; I feel GREAT and really exaggerate the laughings.)

I am happy; I am good (waggle pointer fingers) x 2

A,E,I,O (hands joined at belly); A,E,I,O (hands joined at heart center); A,E,I,O (hands joined at third eye); U (throw both hands up)

Ha, ha, ha, ha (hands joined at third eye); He, he, he, he (hands joined at heart center), Ho, ho, ho, ho (hands joined at belly); Hu! ( throw hands open at sides)

At end, one big balloon breath together.

**Little Helpers: A Green Start Book “Good for Your Child; God for the World” by Ikids; Illustrated by Jillian Phillips

I may be just one little person (Child’s Pose) but what I do affects the world in a big way (jump up and do Star Pose).

When I plant a tree (Tree Pose)…and owl gets a new home Squat Pose with hoots)

When I pick up trash at the beach (Cross between Elephant breath and Swinging Gorilla pose with monkey sounds)…a crab has clean sand to crawl on (Crab Walk-forward, back and sideways)

When I put a feeder in the backyard (Boat Pose)…the birds have food to eat (Airplane Pose with flapping arms)

When I use a cloth grocery bag instead of paper (Downward Dog Pose with tail wags and barks)…there are more trees for the bears to climb (Bear Walk)

When I plant new flowers in the garden…bees have more nectar to eat (Flower Pose into Bat Pose with buzzing bee sounds)

When I turn off the faucet while brushing my teeth (Swipe the Peanut Butter Off Your Teeth Pose)…there is more water for the fish in the rivers (Fish Pose)

When I reduce, reuse and recycle (Lie down, bring knees in and  give yourself a big hug)…there is more open land for the deer to run (bring legs up to first do single leg raises then bring them up and over in an easy inversion)

When we all pitch in a little (rock and roll to seated; Easy Twist)…it makes a big difference to our world (Full Body Stretch on floor-set up for Savasana)