Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Yoga is in Everything!

Once a week, I lead your child in a yoga class.  In my last blog entry, I described briefly what that looks like. This time, I want to describe a little more what the intentions are behind what we do and how they relate to Conscious Discipline and the rest of their day at school.

 For Valentine's  Day, we thought about our community at The Little School (Chapter 2 in the Conscious Discipline book - We are all in this together).  With watercolor paint and crayons, we decorated paper hearts and put them up on the wall.  I asked each child to think of someone at school who they would like to send some love to.  For some, this was a difficult concept.  Their immediate thoughts of love were about their families.  But once they thought about it, they came up with the people at The Little School who mean something to them...their favorite teacher, their favorite chef, their best friend.  A few decided to put their own name on their hearts, a choice I welcomed.  Yes, it is important to love ourselves.  Others decorated their paper hearts for the fish in the fish tank.  One child dedicated their heart to a tree.  Putting the hearts on the wall was fun, too.  After I put tape on the back of their hearts, they were able to choose where they wanted to stick their artwork.  The intention for this project was not just to have the children make yet another Valentine, but to help them think about what it meant to really make something for another person and how that person might feel when seeing their name on a heart on the wall.

I did it!
One day, the weather was so nice, I took my yoga group out into the woods to look for signs of
spring (such as green leaves).  They immediately pointed up to the Pine trees and said, "There are some green leaves!"
"Ummm, yes, but those are green all winter long because those are evergreens," I explained hastily.  Oops,caught by the literalness of children once again.  Then they pointed to every green piece of moss they could find.  Once again I was a bit stumped.  Finally we began to see some tiny green leaves peeking up through all the dead leaves on the forest floor.  We walked carefully around them so they could grow and the kids even brushed some of the dead leaves away from them.  Kindness to living things - A yoga lesson in action.

I did it!
At the end of our walk, we came to a fallen tree that was just perfect for practicing our yoga balance and body-awareness tree-climbing skills.  The kids practiced walking along the tree and then stood lined up as the first one began to attempt to climb.  Spotting her from below, I watched, as she carefully tried different handholds and leveraged from her foot positions.  She got 2/3 of the way up and stopped to come down.  The next child began their climb.  Twisting around the trunk in a completely different style, he worked his way up to the first branch and smiled.  Ah, that magical moment of accomplishment.  Using my favorite Conscious Discipline words, I smiled back and said, "You did it!" giving the child the satisfaction of their own sense of achievement.  As each child tried the climb, they all eventually figured out how to get up to the first branch and some got even higher.  I pointed out that each time they made an attempt, they did a little better and that it took practice to get there.  If ever there was a more natural yoga lesson (and life lesson), I'm not sure I've come across it.
Jack and Molly help each other

The school staff have been studying Conscious Discipline Chapter 2, Encouragement, and I saw the results many times in my yoga classes.  One child who was brand new to the school was trying to do the "Rock and roll" pose and having a hard time.  The other kids had been doing this pose all year.  "Do you remember how hard it was when you first tried it?" I asked them.  They all started to encourage the new child with, "You can do it!" and "Do it like this, see?" as they showed him their way of doing it.  Another time, we were practicing the Tree pose and the children began holding hands with their friends in order to help them balance.
Kenji does the pretzel
with the Bumblebees
before naptime

I have begun to do yoga with one class before their nap-time and the teachers in The Bumblebee class have been doing this as well.  We start by doing The Drain, balling up our hands, tightening our arms, shoulders and face, taking in a deep breath and letting it all go.  This allows them to feel the tightness and tension and then recognize the difference in how it feels to let it go. Then we reach up and say goodnight to the sun and bend down to touch our toes.  After stretching for a bit, we get ready to get some sleepy dust and rub it all over our bodies.  Through touching their own skin, the kids are relaxing their own nerve endings and calming and soothing themselves.  Starting with our heads, we rub the sleepy dust all over our body down to our toes and gradually the kids come to sitting on their nap mats.  Then they do the Candle pose, lying on their back with their legs straight in the air.  "Wait for us to come blow out your candle," I remind them and the teachers blow their legs down and cover them up with their blanket and a hug.  More resources for bedtime yoga include:

2. Yawning Yoga - A Goodnight Book for a Good Night's Sleep

Goodnight. Namaste.  Until next time.  Yoga is in everything.

Miss Erin
Yoga, Gardening, and Outdoor Learning

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