This is one of my favorite mindfulness techniques. I often use it at the beginning of class to set the tone and allow everyone the opportunity to slow down and check in. The activity can be done anywhere but this script is for a classroom where students are seated at their desks. I highly recommend it, especially for teens and tweens. Speak slowly, allow for pauses and space for participants to look inward.
Body, Mind, Mood, Breath
Invite everyone to get comfortable sitting back in their chair or with heads down on desks. Maybe eyes are closed or turned down to encourage focus and minimize distractions.
Turn the attention inward to how you are feeling.
What is going on in your body? Is there any tension? Softness? Aches? Openness? Just notice without judging or trying to change it.
Now observe your mind. What is it’s level of activity? It is busy? Calm? Stuck on one thing? Or jumping from thought to thought?
Now notice your mood. How are you feeling today? What are you bringing into class? Can you name the mood you are currently in? Allow whatever it is to be without judgement.
Now turn your attention to your breath. Notice the inhalation and the exhalation. Is it fast, slow, steady, ragged, smooth, warm, cool? Where in your body do you feel the breath?
Take two more breaths. Simply observe. When you are ready open your eyes.
Kids have big emotions. Often they don’t know how to manage these emotions, what to do, how to express themselves or how to find that place of calm inside.
Today’s guest on the Yoga In My School podcast is Sara Pletcher. Sara is a teacher and author passionate about helping teachers help kids. She writes about topics that lead to important conversations to foster awareness, self regulation and integration. Her latest book, Ride the Wind, is a colorful exploration of feelings and thoughts.In her creative way our heroine Genelle, taught by her Mom, shows us how to Ride the Wind through mindfulness and visualizations.
Join us as we explore contemplative practices for young children. Discover tips on teaching kids how to manage emotions and ways you can support your children in fostering mindfulness and meditation practices to last a lifetime.
Discover yoga partner poses suitable for all ages and abilities to foster kindness, communication and teamwork. Learn how to partner effectively, best practices and considerations for a safe and wholesome school yoga practice. All poses are suitable for the school environment with age recommendations to cultivate connections and ensure safety. This e-book has been developed from years of hands-on experience working with students from preschool-grade 12.
This downloadable PDF includes:
Benefits of Partner Poses
Classroom Management Tips
Creating a Safe Space
8 unique Creative Ways to Partner
41 Partner Poses for ages preschool-highschool with lots of variations, age recommendations, color photos and step-by-step instructions
Special Introductory Pricing
School Friendly Yoga Partner Poses
Discover yoga partner poses suitable for all ages and abilities to foster kindness, communication and teamwork. Learn how to partner effectively, best practices and considerations for a safe and wholesome school yoga practice. 18 page full color PDF. Includes 41 partner poses.
I LOVE yoga nidra. Years ago I was first introduced to this amazing restorative practice during a local yoga nidra afternoon workshop. From that first experience, each time I practice it feels more and more as if I am coming home to myself. The gift of taking time to soften, relax and listen is deeply healing.
Yoga nidra is fabulous for teens and tweens. The practice of yogic sleeping is both meditative and therapeutic. Different from the unconscious sleep of night time, yoga nidra cultivates relaxed awareness of body, breath, and mind encouraging all to surrender, to compassionately be here now without judgement.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Available to Everyone: Everyone can practice yoga nidra. No special skills, attitudes or abilities are prerequisite.
Can’t be Done Incorrectly: Anyway you do nidra it is a success. Some people fall asleep, some are wide awake the entire time, some drift in and out of awareness. What matters is that you surrender to the practice and let it be whatever it is, trusting that it is what you need in the moment.
Simple way to Reduce Stress: Yoga nidra requires no special equipment. It’s beauty is in its simplicity. Practice it once and you’ll notice its profoundly relaxing impact.
Balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems: The quiet, calm produced by stillness in the body and attention to various states of awareness is deeply soothing and healing to body and mind.
Builds patience and self control: The invitation to remain still and observe during yoga nidra fosters tolerance and equanimity.
Connect with Yourself: Probably one of the greatest benefits is a greater understanding of yourself, your goals, your inner being. This provides important insight, sensitivity and receptiveness for teens as they navigate the often difficult years of junior and senior high school.
The 8 steps to a Complete Yoga Nidra
Breath and Pranayama Awareness
Feelings and Sensations Perception
Images, Visualization and Journey
Tips for Practicing Yoga Nidra with Teens
Keep it short: while adult practices can range from 15-60 minutes, yoga nidra for tweens and teens is best kept abbreviated. Five to 15 minute practices are perfect. The younger the participants the shorter the practice.
Keep it simple: Keep your language approachable and simple. Use easy to understand terms. Work in broad generalities. Adult yoga nidra can sometimes become extremely detailed. The younger the participants the more general the terms. For example during the body scan focus on a general overview of the body.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: We thrive on repetition. It provides routine and a touchstone in a often confusing world. Feel free to use the same script every time, repeat the same words/phrases (Deepen the breath, relax the body, calm the mind), or at least do one part of it the same way during every practice.
Allow a variety of positions: Invite participants to find a comfortable position where they can remain still for the duration of the practice. This may be lying on their backs, sides, stomachs or seated against a wall. The goal is comfort and that may look different for different individuals.
Use Background Music: Soothing, ambient music without words is lovely to have playing in the background. You can find lots of playlist for massage, reiki, relaxation and more on your favorite music source.
Gabi Garcia is passionate about helping kids to be kind to themselves, to listen to their bodies and to their hearts.
Join Yoga In My School founder, Donna Freeman, as she chats with counsellor, teacher, author Gabi Garcia about how we can foster positive self talk and emotional awareness in children.
Gabi’s beautifully illustrated and wonderfully written books, Listening to My Body and Listening with My Heart, are for parents, teachers and practitioners who are helping children learn mindfulness and calming practices. Discover tools that you can use today with the children in your life. You may even find yourself employing self-regulation and self-compassion skills more often in your own life.
Listen to the interview here:
Gabi Garcia Books Giveaway
Enter to win copies of Gabi’s books in either English or Spanish below.
Contest runs June 7-14 and is open to participants in USA and Canada. No purchase necessary. Winner randomly chosen will be contacted via email or Instragram messaging and have 24 hr to claim their prize.
Lazy 8 Breath or Infinity Breath is one of my favorite shape breathing techniques. I find this shape extremely soothing. Added bonus is the cross lateral work that connects left and right hemispheres of the brain helping to calm and focus.
When teaching young children provide them a printout which they can trace with their finger as they learn how to practice Lazy 8 Breath.
Develop an understanding of the fundamental skills, attitudes and guidelines which contribute to success when teaching children’s yoga. Teaching yoga to children is vastly different from teaching to adults. Learn how to connect with kids, discover your own voice and the power of being genuine, be a true professional by understanding who you are, what you do and how to best present yourself, all while having a blast and knowing you are impacting children’s lives in a positive and meaningful way.
Join founder of Yoga In My School Donna Freeman as she outlines the A-Z of teaching yoga to kids. A is for Attention – learn the key to increasing attention span … what is Q for? 90 minutes
Recently I came across a blog post about how to teach yoga and mindfulness to children with hearing loss. Since I’ve worked at a school for the deaf for a number of years I was interested to discover what insights the author might add.
Miss Megan of Learning Lotuses joins us for this episode to chat about yoga for children with hearing loss. She’ll share insights on what to expect as an instructor and how to navigate some potential hurdles. We’ll discuss sensory processing and sensory fatigue, the effective use of FM systems, tips for savasana, and so much more.
Yoga & Mindfulness for Hearing Loss podcast – LISTEN HERE
Yoga In My School podcast on iTunes
If you enjoyed this interview rate and review the show so others can find it.
Over the past few years more and more schools are offering yoga and mindfulness as part of the curriculum. This is in part due to the increase in research supporting the benefits of yoga and mindfulness including improvements in attention span, focus, ability to deal with stress, creativity, confidence and self management, to name a few. When offering school based yoga programs it is important to recognize that schools have a unique culture which is vastly different from yoga studios, recreational centres, private lesson or community classes.
These do’s and don’ts come from 14 years experience working in the Alberta, Canada education system. They are a guide on how to offer yoga in an available, approachable manner to improve the overall health, wellness and learning readiness of the next generation.
Above all support the programs you offer to schools with follow up and additional support for administrators and teachers. We can change the world one moment, one breath, one child at a time with regular practice, open communication and relationship building.
Keep your words and approach grounded and real. Offer straight up yoga and mindfulness skills without fluff, illusions, artistic interpretation. For example with Sun Salutations don’t say, “Reaching tall to the sun embrace it’s loving radiance and hold in within your heart.” Save the poetic cueing for the yoga studio.
Don’t Teach Whatever You Want
Always co-ordinate with the classroom teacher as to their goals for the class. Every school period has specific educational outcomes. Teach within these parameters.
Don’t Be Surprised by the Religion Issue
Have alternative ways to offer yoga and mindfulness that will appeal to all participants. This may mean reframing and rephrasing the experience into ‘mindful movement’ or ‘stretch & relax’ sessions and avoiding trigger words such as ‘Om’. Always offer a non-dogmatic approach being open and welcoming of all traditions.
Don’t Use Sanskrit Terms or Chants
Yes, we in the yoga world love our Sanskrit but to many these terms can be foreign and scary. Use English. Save Sanskrit and chanting for studio classes or high school Yoga 15, 25, 35 classes.
Don’t Wear Revealing Clothing
Keep things ‘G’ rated. Check your clothing in the mirror before you leave the house. Too much cleavage? Too tight? Too revealing? Is it appropriate for a 6 year old or a hormone riddled teen? Ask yourself what would a PE teacher wear?
Do Know the Curriculum
The Alberta Program of Studies is available online. Do your research and know what needs to be taught for each grade level. When teaching Grade 3 students its wonderful to explore bhramari breathing knowing that it supports the Grade 3 Science curriculum regarding learning about sound.
Do Know the Language
Knowledge of the language of education is essential in order to express how yoga and mindfulness can address the challenges faced in today’s classroom. Know what it means to be coded, what is RTI (Response to Intervention), an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and other terms common to education.
Do Use Child Friendly Terms
Your teaching style and language will change depending on the age of the students. Use terms appropriate for the age, abilities, understanding and maturity of the kids in your class. For example be very concrete when working with younger students, ask them “Please sit down criss cross, eyes on me.”
Do Include Relaxation and Mindfulness
Kids today are over programmed, over scheduled and over stimulated. They are in desperate need of relaxation tools and mindfulness practices to invite peace and calm into their lives. Give them this gift. Movement is a form of meditation. So is stillness.
Do Link to Kids Lives
Include stories, games and activities linking yoga asana, pranayama and relaxation to kids’ interests and life. Many poses are named after animals and pranayama can be tailored for specific needs such as finding calm, before bed, or test prep.