Mindful Steps Activity

Mindful Steps Activity

164647732_8c9b3183d7_oToday’s activity is a practice in taking mindful steps. This is a practice that can be done any time you are walking somewhere. It is an activity that lets us pay extra attention to the journey we make from one place to another.

We will begin by standing up tall and finding our mountain pose. If you are comfortable closing your eyes, you can close them for the next few moments. Grow your roots into the ground and become strong and tall like a mountain, reaching your head up to the sky like the tippy top of a mountain’s peak. Turn your palms to face forward and inhale as you roll your shoulders up by your ears, then exhale to let them role down your back. Do this three more times on your own, moving with your breath.

Now that we are strong and grounded, we can be even more mindful in the way that we walk. Being present means that we are paying extra attention to what we are doing so we can get the most out of every moment. Mindful walking is walking while paying extra attention to the way we are moving, the place we are walking in, and how we feel while walking. It takes our minds off of where we are going to end up, and lets us have fun getting there. Have you ever driven somewhere with your parents and kept wondering when you’d get there? Mindful walking is like you are driving, but you are noticing everything around you so much that you don’t even think about how much time you have left to drive.

We can practice this activity by walking through the garden. Begin walking on the garden path. Notice how fast you are walking and see if you can slow down your pace. Pretend like you are walking in slow motion, and then imagine that this is the way that you walk all the time.

Begin to notice your feet lifting off of the ground and landing back down with each step you take. Notice the way that your arms move when you walk. How is your posture? Are you standing up straight or hunched over? If you are hunched, reach up through the crown of your head to make your spine long and tall again.

Now move your attention to the way you are breathing as you walk. See if you can begin to make your breath deeper. Maybe you time your inhale as you lift a foot to step, and exhale as you place it down. Continue to try this breath and movement combination and choose to stick with it if you enjoy it, or let it go if you do not.

Continue slowly walking down the path until you arrive where you started. Find your mountain pose here once more. Standing up tall with your feet planting down into the ground and your head reaching high to the sky. Turn your palms to face forward and roll your shoulders down your back. Find your breath filling up the belly as you breathe in and emptying the belly as you breathe out.

Slowly open your eyes when you are ready. How did that feel?

Teacher Tips: This is a great activity for a pleasant day when you have time to get the kids out into the garden. It is a wonderful way to tame high levels of physical energy, since the activity involves both physical movement and mental concentration. Engage the students in reflection at the end of the activity.

Student Tips: This is a great activity to practice absolutely anytime you are walking somewhere. You can make any trip relaxing, whether it is walking to the park to meet up with friends or walking to your classroom. See if you can use mindful steps to make going somewhere you might not like a mindfulness activity.

Tree Pose

Today we are going to learn a balancing posture called tree pose. It is called tree pose because you will be standing on one tall leg like a tree trunk, and you can make beautiful branches grow out from your trunk with your arms. To balance in this pose, it is important to breathe and keep your attention on the present moment.

We will start by finding our mountain pose- do you remember this from another activity? To find mountain pose we will bring our big toes to touch with our feet pointingOak_tree_with_moon_and_wildflowers-1 forward. See if you can notice all ten toes lifting up and spreading out wide before setting them back down again. Make your spine long and tall by reaching the top of your head up to the ceiling and rolling your shoulders down your back. Turn the palms of your hands to face forward and spread your fingers really wide just like you did with your toes. You are now in mountain pose. Take three deep breaths here: filling up your belly on the in-breath, and emptying your belly on the out-breath.

From your mountain pose, begin to pay extra attention to your right leg and foot. See if you can press a little more into your right foot to make your right leg really strong like a tree trunk. Once your right foot and leg feel strong, begin lifting your left foot just a tiny bit off of the ground. Notice your balance here. If you are wobbly, try reaching your arms out to the sides. When you do this, also press your right foot into the ground even more to make your right leg even stronger.

Once you have found your balance, lift your left leg up a little higher and bring the left foot to the inside of the calf or thigh of your standing leg. Your left knee will be turned out to the side. Your balance and flexibility can help you choose how high your foot goes- just make sure that it is not directly on your knee. Both versions are tree pose, and neither is better than the other. When you have found your balance, bring your hands to your hips. If you still feel balanced here, slowly bring your hands up into the air. You can imagine that your arms are growing up and out like branches from your tree trunk. You can also decide what you have on your branches. Maybe there are flowers or leaves, or even some birds or ladybugs.

Once you have found the version of tree pose that feels best in your body, let your eyes find something in front of you to focus on. The thing you choose to focus on should not move (so not a person). Let your eyes gently focus on this object, and begin to find your breath. Let your inhale make you taller and your exhale root your right foot into the ground, making your right leg even stronger.

Continue with this pattern of breathing for 10 more rounds.

At the end of your 10th exhale, you can slowly take your left foot off of your right leg, turn your left knee forward, and bring the foot down to the ground. Shake out your legs if they are tired and then come back to meet everyone in mountain pose.

Repeat instructions for opposite foot and leg (substitute left leg for right leg and right foot for left foot).

Teacher’s note: tree pose is a great way to generate focus and balance. The challenging nature of the pose forces kids to be present and pay attention to what is going on in that moment. This is a good pose to use when trying to reign in concentration

Students: tree pose is good practice to help you pay more attention to the present moment. If you notice your mind traveling in many directions, or want to concentrate on something for school, you can try tree pose to help create that concentration.

Mountain Pose

Stand up nice and tall with your feet pointing straight ahead. Try bringing your feet together, with your big toes touching, and notice how that feels in your body. Do you feel strong and tall here? Now try bringing your feet as wide as your hips, and notice how that feels. Choose the foot position that feels most comfoK2,_Mount_Godwin_Austen,_Chogori,_Savage_Mountainrtable in your body. Our goal is to feel like strong mountains while we stand here, so that no gust of wind could blow us over.

Let’s begin to notice our toes. Lift your toes up and wiggle them around. It may feel a little funny, but notice what happens to your balance as you wiggle your toes. Try to keep your balance in the center of your feet like the base of a mountain. From here, spread your toes as wide as you can and oh so gently place them down, one by one on the ground- keeping them spread out. Do you feel more balanced here? We are building our mountains from the ground all the way up to our heads, so we should have really strong feet to hold us up! Once we have strong feet, we can make our legs strong too.

Next, we’ll move up to our arms. Let your arms hang by your side with your palms facing forward. Just notice how they feel here. Do your arms feel heavy? Do they feel light? Begin to imagine that you are moving energy all the way up from your feet, down through your arms, and into your fingertips. Wiggle your fingertips and see how that feels before moving on to make your arms strong just like your legs.

Now we will bring our attention all the way up to the very top of our heads. Notice the very top of your head lift up as you inhale and hold yourself up tall as you exhale. We have arrived in our mountain pose.

As you breathe in, feel air filling up your arms, all the way down to your fingertips, and your legs, all the way down to your toes. As you breathe out, feel yourself becoming more and more stable in your mountain pose. Each breath making you stronger.

Students: You can use mountain pose any time that you want to feel strong like a mountain.

Teachers: You can instruct this exercise to bring the energy of the class down, as it is grounding.