Archives for September 2015

Waking up your Belly: Power Foods

Waking up your Belly: Power Foods

After we wake up our bodies in the morning, we want to wake up our bellies so they can give us energy for the day ahead. You can think of your belly as the energy center for your body. One of the important ways your brain and muscles get the power they need to work hard for your every day is through the food you put into your belly! This is why it is important to choose Power Foods so that your brain and body can be as strong as possible.

What are Power Foods, and why do we want to eat them?

Power foods are healthy foods that give us the energy to perform our very best throughout the day. Eating power foods in the morning is especially important because this sets the tone for your energy levels for the rest of the day to come. Have you ever skipped breakfast in the morning? If so, you might
have noticed your belly grumbling, your mood getting a little cranky, and maybe that your brain wasn’t working so well. We can make sure our bodies are powered food-healthy-morning-cerealsup for the day ahead by making good breakfast choices to fill up our energy stores.

Breakfast foods like eggs, granola, yogurt, fruits and smoothies can all be Power Foods depending on how they are made. It is important to look for whole grains, high protein, low sugar content and healthy fats.

What are some Power Foods you can eat in the morning?

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Do you know where you can find these Power Foods?

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Teacher’s Tip: This is a great lesson to introduce at the beginning of the school year, or after a break when students will need to engage their brains more than they’ve been used to for the last few weeks or months. Reminding students about the effects of nutrition can serve as motivation to practice mindful eating.

Student Tip: We learned that Power Foods are an important jump-start for your day. See if you can teach someone in your family about Power Foods. If someone at home makes you breakfast, or buys groceries, maybe you can tell them about Power Foods and come up with some ideas so that you can fuel yourself well in the morning.

Waking up your body: Moving with the breath

Waking up your body: Moving with the breath

Today we’re going to learn about waking up the body by moving with our breath. Moving is a great way to wake up in the morning, or later in the afternoon when you’re feeling sleepy. When we link breath with movement, the movement becomes Mindful and easier to do for our muscles. This is because breathing deeply lets our muscles know that it’s okay to relax. When we take short breaths, our brain gets worried and our muscles have to work harder.

5956740192_e08d5d9052_bBecause of this, breath is a very important part of moving and waking up the body. Let’s tune into our breath to begin.

We will start by standing up in mountain pose, with our feet as wide as our hips, toes pointing forward. Make yourself really tall by lifting up through the crown of your head and rolling your shoulders down your back. Gently close the eyes and begin to pay attention to the breath. Follow the in-breath down to the belly, and follow the out-breath up through the chest, throat and nose. Continue breathing in and out this way while slowing down the breath so that each inhale and exhale becomes longer.

Now we will add movement to our breath. On your next in-breath, slowly lift your arms out wide like wings and up overhead- bringing your hands or fingertips together to touch. On your next out-breath, slowly lower your hands back down to your side. Continue with this movement: inhaling arms up overhead, and exhaling them slowly down. When you move, pretend like your arms are moving through honey, so that you have to be very strong, slow and mindful as you move in order to get them through all that honey! This movement might seem familiar if you remember our Balloon Breathing exercise. If you don’t remember it, you can always go back and try it later.

On your next in-breath, reach the arms back up. And on your next out-breath, bend your knees a little bit and take a swan dive all the way into a forward fold (arms wide, long, flat back), still standing on your feet. On the in-breath, bring hands to shins and look straight ahead, then fold back down on the out-breath. The next in-breath will take you all the way up to stand through a reverse swan dive (arms out, long, flat back). The next out-breath will bring your hands back to your side in mountain pose.

Notice the way your muscles feel after that little bit of movement. Notice the way your breath is moving in and out of your body. Hopefully you feel more awake and ready to start the rest of your day.

Student tip: You can practice this movement several times in a row, depending on how much time you have and depending on how much heat you want to create in your muscles. This is a great practice to do first thing in the morning, especially if it’s a cold and you don’t want to get out of bed. Be sure to check in with your body each time you go through the movements to make sure nothing is hurting and that you aren’t feeling dizzy. Sometimes moving too fast with too little breath coming in and out can make us dizzy. This is the body’s reminder to slow down both breath and movement.

Teacher’s tip: You can run through this series several times as well, depending on the result you are looking to achieve. Doing this a few times could wake up some sleepy kids, while doing this many times can help tire out some energetic kids. Try the practice out yourself in the morning so that you know how it will feel in their bodies too.

Mindful Mornings

Mindful Mornings

The following series are tips and tools for starting your day mindfully, so that you can be present and awake for the day ahead. These will include movement, breath and nutrition tips for kids to follow in order to have Mindful Mornings. The intention is that Mindful Mornings will build into Mindful Days and Mindful Evenings too! Everything we learn is connected, and this is an easy way to work through a mindfulness series of how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life!
Included in the Mindful Mornings Series:

  • Waking up your Body: Moving With the Breath
  • Waking up the Belly: Power Foods
  • Waking up the Brain: Becoming Present
Looking Back: Making a Garden for your Mindful Body (to practice Eating, Movement, and Rest)!

Looking Back: Making a Garden for your Mindful Body (to practice Eating, Movement, and Rest)!

A garden is a wonderful place to put all of our Mindful Body lessons together in action. Gardens provide fresh, healthy foods for Mindful Eating, a fun and interactive way to participate in Mindful Movement while growing and taking care of our food, and a peaceful place to take some moments to ourselves, or with others, in Mindful Rest. Let’s learn about how we can do this!

Mindful Eating in our Garden

Mindful Eating requires us to know about our food, and be sure that it is doing good for our bodies. Having a garden to grow our food in lets us see the process of our food’s life cycle from start to finish. We know everything that goes into our food, so we know everything that goes into our bodies when we eat it! When planning what will go into a garden, be sure to check out what is in season, as things that can grow often change depending on the time of year.

Mindful Movement in our Garden

Making and taking care of a garden requires lots of Mindful Movement! Creating our garden space can take some work when we are setting up our planters, or planting space, and when we are gathering all of our materials to grow our food with. Our gardens will require Mindful Movement to help pull out weeds so our food can grow, and to water our plants when they need it so that they don’t get thirsty! Once your garden is all set up, you can practice Mindful Movement by walking to it and around it as often as you can.

Mindful Rest in our Garden

Gardens can be very peaceful places to rest and recharge after a long day at school or out with friends. Be sure to make a space in your garden where you can go to have some rest time: like an outdoor rest nest. This could look like a chair or a bench, or maybe you can bring out a towel or blanket (with your parent’s permission) to sit on in the garden. Once you are out in the garden, you can also try practicing mindfulness activities like Thought Clouds or Belly Breathing before practicing Restorative Rest time… or you can jump right in. You are also welcome to find your own ways of practicing Mindful Rest in the garden. IfCarrots you have one you really like, maybe you can even share it with your friends or teacher so they can practice too!

The Mindful Body Part III: Mindful Rest Habits

The Mindful Body Part III: Mindful Rest Habits

Mindful Rest is the last part of our Mindful Body series. Learning to find time for rest is a very important part of having a Mindful Body. Mindful Rest is finding a way to rest that nourishes your body and mind so that you can continue to support your practices of Mindful Eating and Mindful Movement. Without rest, it is harder for us to make healthy choices, and we can make decisions that aren’t the best for the Mindful Bodies we are practicing to have.cat-289591_640

You can think about Mindful Rest in the same way you think about getting a good night’s sleep. We need sleep to feel ready for our day, and to do all the things we want to do. Well, we also need rest to re-charge after we do lots of those things we want to do, so that they can turn all of our activities into positive energy for our Mindful Bodies. Mindful Rest is as simple as taking a few moments to yourself each day, or as many days of the week as you can, to let all of the benefits of your healthy choices turn into awesome positive energy to grow your Mindful Body.

You might want to try out the following Mindful Rest practices in your Rest Nest (or make a Rest Nest if you don’t have one yet), or you can practice Mindful Rest anywhere that feels cozy to you.

Once you’ve found your rest space, you can practice any of the Mindful Rest activities we’ve already learned, like Restorative Rest Time, Belly Breathing, or Setting an Intention, or you can make up your own. Mindful Rest can be as simple as lying down and listening to relaxing music, drawing, or reading.

Feel free to share your ideas with teachers, parents or friends!

Student Tips: You might choose to journal about your rest time, or maybe schedule in rest time as much as every day. You might even teach your parents or siblings some rest techniques! Perhaps you could even suggest a family rest time.

Teacher Tip: You might consider creating a rest time in the day so that students have a safe and structured space to rest at school. You can also mix up the location, checking out different peaceful places at school. Rest is a great after recess idea, and a great idea at the beginning or end of the week to help get everyone on the same page.