Always Be Dancing Adaptive Movement:

Yoga, Dance and Mindfulness for Every(body).


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Dance In The Schools- Day One: What is yoga?

Dance In The Schools- Day One: What is yoga?

Dance In The Schools- Day One: What is yoga?

(Included at the end is a classroom/home assignment: How to make a Happiness Collector)

Funded by both Dance In the Schools and Friends of Baldwin, I am thrilled to be back for my sixth year at the Maria Baldwin Elementary School, Cambridge, MA, teaching my own Always Be Dancing Adaptive Movement program with their amazing second grade classrooms. This year, they have three second-grade classrooms and I am able to see each group 5 times. Having this opportunity to grow each year with the students and staff is priceless. Also, I love seeing the past participants who are now in third, fourth or fifth grade. Whenever they see me, they jump into tree pose or even strike a flamenco pose (as I also integrate my program with flamenco). This school has great community spirit and I love the diversity and how it is celebrated.

Good Behavior In Yoga:

Good Behavior In Yoga Class:

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I deliver the rules verbally, also pointing out that they can read along that there is a picture for each rule that shows what I am asking them to do. That way there are many ways to help them remember the rules.

  1. I stay on my mat. This is so each child has personal space. We take a moment to look at our mats, the size, the color… I asked them to think of a color that makes them feel happy. Holding an imaginary Hula Hoop, we then cover our whole mat, including ourselves, with a bubble of this color. Inside our bubble we feel happy, good and safe.

  2. I listen with my ears. That way they can hear the directions that are being given

  3. I watch what my yoga teacher is doing. I remind them that I will most likely being doing what I am asking them to do, so if they watch me, they will always know what is being asked of them.

  4. I try my best to do each yoga activity. Yoga is about trying, noticing, feeling. Just give things a try and if you need help…

  5. If I need help, I can ask my yoga teacher. If one child needs an adaptation of an activity, we all do it. Its just something else to try!

  6. If I need a break, I can take Child’s Pose or I can sit quietly on my mat. OK…a big one. I stop everything here and I go through and teach what I call the “three resting poses” First, I teach Child’s Pose, have everyone take a breath or two to feel this pose in their bodies. Then we roll forward onto our bellies, for Crocodile Pose, everyone needs belly-time! Once again a few breaths to feel the pose. Then we flip over onto our backs, and I teach Gingerbread Man Cookie Pose. This is the traditional savasana pose. Take our breaths. When we all sit back up, I ask them to think about which pose was the most restful for them because I will ask them later during class to do that pose.

  7. I use a quiet voice. Enough said!

  8. I keep my hands to myself. (OK this one should really be up by “staying on your mat” That will be on the updated poster!) Here I bring back the color bubble. Keep your hands to yourself. Do not pop anyone’s bubble….img_6145

After the rules (I only do this one time but I bring the board each week as a reminder, classes started with belly breathing. A great way to begin! I am a strong believer of breathing in and out through the nose, as an exhale with the mouth actually feels like a balloon that is losing air too fast (insert “balloon deflating too rapidly” sound here….FFFRRRAAPFT). I encourage breathing in through the nose, as if you are smelling a lovely flower and then letting the air gently leave through the nose on the exhale. It is more calming this way. Of course, there are two exceptions. If you have a cold/allergy or if you feel nervous and it makes you uncomfortable to breath that way.

One reason I bring yoga into classrooms is to help students and teachers that yoga is an accessible safe choice towards embodying self-control. Yoga is all about the self. Yoga is all about what it feels like inside your body. Only the individual knows what is feel like because no one else is inside another person’s being. The individual knows what is safe, what makes them feel good and how to calm themselves down. With increased self control, classrooms can flow more smoothly and teachers do not have to be noise/distraction monitors. For sure, yoga is not a cure-all, but it is one very accessible, adaptable and enjoyable tool for a person’s emotional intelligence tool kit.

Class begins with the ringing of the chime. Sometimes the best way to start class is form a relaxed and calm position to pave the way for better focused minds, bodies and energy. We inhale on the ring and allow the slow breath to release as we listen to the echo of the sound. Each child gets a turn. And with each chime, we focus our attention on the sound and on our breathing.

I will continue to use the bell as a way to bring back focus to the class. I want them to understand the difference between silent and noisy and stillness and movement. We all get a bit noisy, making silly sounds, talking, wiggling and then suddenly I ring the bell. The room quiets down. Of course, I made need to ring it again, but usually one ring is enough. Sometimes I play with the level intensity at which I ring the chime (loud vs soft), so they really have to be alert for its sound.

What is yoga?

Group 1

  • stretching

  • feeling relaxed

  • relaxing moves

  • movement

  • flexible

Group 2

  • calm down

  • stretching

  • getting flexible*

Group 3

  • relaxed & feeling good

  • stretch to become flexible

  • breathing to calm

  • de-stress

  • peaceful

  • floating

Each class came up with similar responses, but the one I really liked was “getting flexible”. I love how it implies an opportunity for growth, for change. Just what yoga is about!

Jumping right into a short sequence:

Cow/Cat (adding moos and meows)

Downward Facing Dog (with barks)

Cobra (with hisses)

Child’s Pose (giving hand options to help the children figure out what feels best for them: under the forehead, fist-on-fist or hands by feet, palms up)

Now asking the students if doing  that little bit of yoga make them feel calm/good/happy or like they were getting more flexible? I refer back to the word list they created and use them. I often throw in the question, “Is being able to touch your toes or do a backbend the only way to show that you are flexible? You might need to direct them away from more physical action descriptions for flexibility then someone can come up with alternative ways to be flexible (i.e. mind, energy)

One of my favorite yoga books and the one I have been using the longest is My Daddy Is a Pretzel by Baron Baptiste. It is a great kicking off point for basic yoga poses.

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The kids think the title is hysterical and I immediately tell them to create their own version of a pretzel yoga pose: tie yourself up, twist and curl any which way.

What I have found is that the real focus of the book is in the varied types of jobs the children in the story say that their parents do each day. There is a gardener (tree), vet (downward facing dog), architect, (triangle), pilot (airplane), builder (bridge), farmer (plow), marine biologist (fish), works in Africa (lion), baker (pretzel). These jobs open up our ability to talk about what these job’s actually mean you do and kids either know or can piece together these answers by looking at the accompanying pictures. To make my teaching fully inclusive and to make sure I can make any adaptation necessary, I teach going into and out of poses my own way, so I do not use the accompanying pose descriptions. That way I can adapt and grow each pose organically with the group, rather than follow a set path. At the end, of course, we get to try another “make-your-own” pretzel pose. Lots of laughs and then I offer up the resting pose choice. We take a short resting moment.

One of my favorite moving meditations is “Yogini Went To Sea” by Shakta Kaur Khalsa (for only $9.99 you can buy the album Happy through iTunes). Shakta is the first children’s yoga teacher I studied with and she taught me the invaluable lesson of allowing your self to grow with each experience and also, she recorded the only recorded yoga songs that I use in my classes! 

Classroom/Home Assignment: Create a Happiness Collector.

A Happiness Collector is a jar, bucket, basket or any other receptacle you choose where you put in small piece of paper that have on them written or drawn things that make you happy. These things can be anything that make you happy. They can be something that you did, that you saw or that you had done to you.

  1. Choose your Happiness Collector

  2. Every day take a moment to remember something that made you happy.

  3. Write it down or draw it on a small piece of paper. Fold the paper.

  4. Put it into your Happiness Collector.

  5. Messages can be read whenever a bit of sunshine is needed, at the end of a week etc…

Children can be prompted with a phrase such as “I feel happy when I _________.

Thank you!

Ole! Namaste!


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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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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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Ways To Choose Love

love

What is love?

  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  3. passion or desire.
  1. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.NHL-140217-WaystoChooseLoveflyer_2-e1393271804363

Synonyms: nouns

Synonyms: verbs :

 

If you care about someone, how do yo show it? Love is a universal feeling, but how we express ourselves can be very varied. The kind of affection we are shown as we grow up, shapes how we give and receive love.

Write Yourself a Love Letter

To express self love, you can write a love letter to yourself.  You can start simply with “Dear Eve”,  “My sweetest Eve” or “Dearest BFF”

 

Tell yourself in the letter why you are writing—”I just wanted you to now how much I love you!”

Signing it “With all my love, Eve”

 


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Dance In The Schools 2015: Life Cycle of the Yoga Butterfly

Waiting For Wings by Lois Ehlert

Today was the final day of Dance In The Schools 2015 at the Baldwin School, Cambridge. My classes were based on the life cycle of the butterfly (current with the 2nd grade science curriculum) and the concepts of senses we know (touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste) and then the ones we don’t know as much about (proprioception= an awareness of our bodies in space and the vestibular system=balance, gravity and movement information though our inner ear).

The best thing about yoga is that it allows for a sensory experience in a safe/non-competitive environment. You can manipulate your body in space, using poses, breath and meditation to clear pathways to achieve balance.

Breathing Sticks (once again, I noted to them to practice their breathing once they got their sticks)

Sa-Ta-Na-Ma meditation

Waiting for Wings/They have eggs to lay...What is the Butterfly Life Cycle?

Egg (usually laid on a leaf)

Larva/Caterpillar (eats leaves to grow)

Pupa/Chrysalis/Cocoon

Adult butterfly/moth

What is metamorphosis?

Interesting facts:

  1. Butterflies are active during the day feeding on flowers. They suck up the sweet nectar with their long, curly tongues. That is because butterflies cannot bite or chew.
  2. There are about 150,000 kinds of butterflies and they and their caterpillars come in all sorts of colors and sizes.
  3. Butterflies Like all insects, they have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail end). Most have four wings. The wings of butterflies are covered with tiny scales that seem to shimmer in the daylight. Some of them are brightly colored. Others have bold patterns or scary eye-spots. When a butterfly flashes its wings at its enemies, it confuses them, and gives itself time to escape the danger that they might be in.
  4. Butterflies and moth belong to the order Lepidoptera. Lepidos is Greek for “scales” and ptera means “wing”. Monarch visiting Mums

Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert

Out in the fields, eggs are hidden from view. Child’s pose

clinging to leaves with butterfly glue. Stretching child’s pose. Fingers crawl to the left and right to stretch sides.

Soon caterpillars hatch. They creep and they chew. Creep forward into inchworm.

Each one knows what it must do. Press up to cobra. Add hissing and snaking back up and down.

Find a place where winds don;t blow, Locust.

then make a case in which to grow. Bow.

Caterpillar changes now begin– Rock and roll on belly, release. Rise up to standing position.

body and wings take shape within. Tapping.

When it’s time, each case is torn– Willow tree and joy breath.

wings unfold; new butterflies are born! Star Pose.

They pump their wings, get ready to fly, Add cross body kicks.

then hungry butterflies head for the sky. Yoga Jumping Jacks.

Looking for flowers with nectar to eat, Standing flower pose (tree)

they catch a whiff of something sweet.: Join a partner for partner tree/or group tree

They follow that fragrant scent of perfume, Melt to the floor. breathing in and smelling the delicious odor of fresh flowers 3x.

until they find our garden bloom.: Seated flower

We’ve been waiting for wings! Seated bat (opening flower)

We watch them circle, land on their feet, Lay on back and hug knees to chest. Legs up towards ceiling, as if walking on ceiling. Foot circles, both directions. Point and flex and then walk on ceiling and then bicycle.

unroll their tongues, and begin to eat.: Rock and roll. Grab feet, happy baby.

They dip and sip, Feet down. Simple lying twist.

then fly away, back home to the fields… Full body stretch-like a gingerbread man.

They have eggs to lay.: Savasana

Song (sung to the tune of Pop Goes The Weasel)…I tried!

I spin and spin my chrysalis

I stay inside to rest

When I come out….Metamorphosis!

Pop! Goes the butterfly.

Of course we then did a rousing version of Yogini Went to Sea and then the Downward Dog Crawl Tunnel. Not taking into account the size of the room, proved to be a stumper for a moment. But I offered up the challenge to the class and we  were able to create a circle, which worked very well! I so appreciated the first groups problem solving ability!

Please enjoy the wonderful gift I received:

IMG_3897 IMG_3898 IMG_3903 IMG_3899 IMG_3900 IMG_3901 IMG_3902 IMG_3904 IMG_3905 IMG_3906 IMG_3907 IMG_3908 IMG_3909 IMG_3910 IMG_3911 IMG_3912 IMG_3913 IMG_3915 IMG_3916 IMG_3917 IMG_3918 IMG_3919 IMG_3920 IMG_3921 IMG_3922 IMG_3923 IMG_3924 IMG_3925 IMG_3926 IMG_3927 IMG_3928 IMG_3929 IMG_3930 IMG_3931 IMG_3932 IMG_3933 IMG_3934 IMG_3935 IMG_3936

Ole! Namaste!


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Using nesting dolls to explain the 5 Koshas or the 5 Realms

Yoga for kids can be geared to teach them the meaning of yoga but with lightness, lots of levity and tons of exploration. Recently, I have been thinking of how to teach the koshas to kids. I have found that studying and teaching Esoteric Anatomy (your energetic anatomy)informs my practice and teaching in a beneficial way. The study of the subtle body’s energies and structures supports my desire to focus inwards. Focusing on the energy inside your body is a great way to notice tensions, relaxation, and a great way to focus inside rather than just externally. I love feeling that the inside of me is just as powerful means for change as the outside.

In yoga, you can describe the functions of the perceptible (corporal) body and you can also describe the functions of the subtle (implied) body. The subtle anatomy of the humans is divided into five energetic sheaths known as ‘pancha kosha’. Pancha, meaning five and kosha, meaning layer or sheath. To explain these layers, I got out my Winnie The Pooh nesting doll-which by luck has exactly 5 layers. The outermost layer is Pooh, then Tigger, Eeyore, Owl and finally Piglet.

  1. (Winnie the Pooh Body) Annamaya Kosha (Food Sheath/Physical Body)– This describes the physical body composed from the five elements but mainly from food and water. With this layer you experience awareness of sensation. Imbalance can be experienced by: muscle tension, too much or too little body weight, obsession with appearance. To balance: Eat a simple diet, rich in organic foods and unprocessed food and do twists.
  2. (Tigger Body) Pranamaya Kosha (Pranic or Energy Sheath)-The Pranic or Energy Sheath, comprises the prana vayus*, nadis** and the chakras***. Prana, the vital breath which man lives by, is the bridge between the gross and subtle bodies as well as between the other koshas. Imbalance: nervous stress, anxiety, shortness of breath, depression, ADHD, exhaustion. Balance: pranayama, foreword bends for anxiety, backbends for depression.
  3. (Eeyore Body) Manomaya Kosha (Mental or psycho-emotional Sheath)– Consists of thoughts and emotions. Expressed by ego and personality. Imbalance: fear, vengefulness, clinging attachment, mental illness. Balance: visualization, meditation, mantra chanting, inversions.
  4. (Owl Body) Vijnyanamaya Kosha (Intellectual Sheath)– Governs intuition. Created by instinct. Imbalance: lack of trust, arrogance, lack of empathy, malcontent. Balance: walking and sitting meditations, solitude, spiritual study, and headstand.
  5. (Piglet Body) Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Sheath)– The ‘bliss sheath’ is the seat of the inner essence or self and is where we metabolize our experience of Samadhi or a higher level of concentrated meditation. The mind is said to rest in its intrinsic natural state which is pure bliss. In reality (or spiritually) there are no imbalances at this level as the mind is free from ‘chitta vrittis’ or mental confusions and distractions; yet…Imbalance: ungrounded, unfocused, suicidal thoughts. Balance: use all strategies.
*Prana is the force/energy that is in our body which brings forth life. Vayu means winds. Prana viyus are energy winds inside the body.
** Nāḍis are the channels through which, in traditional Indian medicine and spiritual science, the energies of the subtle body are said to flow. They connect at special points of intensity called chakras.
***Chakra means “wheel” or “circular motion”. They are the psychic centers located in ascending order along the shushumna nadi (the spine) and are part of the nadi (“little rivers or streams”) system of yoga.
We started class lying in constructive rest, hands on belly, just noticing breath. I gave an intention for the practice which was that we were going to give our yoga practice our wholehearted attention-training the mind to regain its ability to be undistracted. This will help them to remain aware and conscious throughout the practice. I also began to explain how to do Ujjayi breath or Victory breath. With breaths in and out through the nostrils, I first had them imagine that the breath was coming from the soft spot directly in the middle of their collar bones, at the base of their throat. I explained the sound was audible only to themselves but it should have a soft oceanic pulse. Imagine they are really Darth Vader but they do not want anyone to know so making Darth Vader breath “silently”. From constructive rest, we moved on to an easy twist, something I learned in Svaroopa yoga, which I like a lot. Standing, breathing up and down from Up Mountain to Bent Over Forward Bend using the inhale to lift us and the exhale as we descended. This establishes a coordination of breath and movement. High lunge on both sides ending with Downward Facing Dog. Of course we had to try 3 legged dog with some leg wags and barks! As we began to use our breath more, I encouraged them to try their Ujjayi breathing. I also reminded them of our class intention, just a few subtle reminders and they kept on track. We then did Triangle, Tree and then Half -Moon, even going for a foot hold, which some people call Sugar Cane Pose…I just call it “Wheeeeee”! Sitting back down, Bound Angle Pose, to Revolved Head-to- Knee Pose, with Karate Chop action…taking the opposite arm, lifting it high by your ear and then bending over and karate chopping towards the pinky toe side of the extended leg to a simplified version of Marichyasana III. Of course, I threw in a number of Child’s Poses throughout.
 
What came next was unplanned, but grew into the perfect activity to tie in the koshas. We lay the yoga blocks out in a pattern, like stepping stones. As each person began their trail, they would take the first block with them and then add it to the end of the trail, reshaping the shape. To make this an exercise in concentration, I first had them say “So” “Hum” as they walked, one syllable for each step. We then internalized this and it became a silent walking meditation. They had to pay attention to their feet or they wold fall off the blocks. The shape moved around and ended up heading into the kitchen, where after each block placement, they would walk around the kitchen island and back to the head of the trail. The shape slithered through the kitchen, back out again and across the floor, to the supply closet, where the carefully placed each block back in place and then quietly went back to their mats for Final Relaxation. This unplanned activity lasted a good 15 minutes. They all worked together, silently, and the joy and happiness radiated from within.
I love yoga!
¡Ole! ¡Namaste!
 
Here are some Baboushka coloring pages and crafts:
 


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Yoga-Snack at Baldwin School, Cambridge, MA Grades 1 & 2


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:

This meditation guides children to discover their innate virtues and potentials.
First lay back and allow your palms to rest by your sides, with the palms facing to the ceiling and let your legs be gently spread and allow your feet to flop to the sides. Allow you body to relax and let the energy flow freely. Allow your yoga to sink into your body. Notice that you are breathing, gently in and out, with your belly rising and falling with each inhale and exhale.

Feel your body becoming lighter and lighter. See all the colors of the rainbow. Feel your body becoming all of the colors of the rainbow.

Feel the color red. Your whole body becomes the color red. Feel yourself giving out energy and strength. You are now full of energy and strength.
Feel the orange color. Your whole body becomes the color orange. Feel yourself giving out happiness and joy. You are now full of happiness and joy.
Feel the color yellow. Your whole body becomes the color yellow. Feel yourself giving out intelligence. You are now full of intelligence.
Feel the color green. Your whole body becomes the color green. Feel yourself giving out harmony and friendship. You are now full of harmony and friendship.
Feel the color blue. Your whole body becomes the color blue. Feel yourself giving out peace. You are now full of peace.
Feel the color indigo. Your whole body becomes the color indigo. Feel yourself giving out gentleness. You are now full of gentleness.
Feel the color violet. Your whole body becomes the color violet. Feel yourself giving out beauty and self-respect. You are now full of beauty and self-respect.
You are the rainbow; your colors are going out everywhere. Feel yourself getting bigger and bigger, your colors going out further and further, until they cover up this whole room, then further until they cover the whole school, the city of Cambridge, the state of Massachusetts, the whole United States, and still further until they cover the whole world. As you spread out all the colors, you are also spreading out energy, happiness, intelligence, friendship, peace, gentleness and beauty. You spread out even further and become even bigger. Now your colors of light are spreading throughout the whole universe. You are as big as the whole universe; your light shines out in every direction in space.
Slowly, all the colors change into a stream of white light. This white light is now flowing down the top of your head down to your heart. Feel all the white light going into your heart. Feel the color and light and energy and grace fill every cell in your body.
Then I sit quietly and allow rest to happen for about 5 minutes.

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!”