In this short guided breathing practice, John teaches you how to use the simple action of a sigh on an exhalation to create a deeper state of ease and relaxation.
For those working in schools, or with youth, this can be an exciting and anxious time of year as many are or have already returned back to school. Back to School can bring with it an amazing sense of new beginnings, and there can also be worry about reconnecting with peers, academics, extracurriculars, sports, and all of the other stressors of school. I think we can all remember what is was like for us when we were younger! Maybe it is even like that for us now, but with our work-life balance! The reinitiation of all of these activities can be ungrounding for youth and their caregivers. The heightened stress will definitely show up in our helping relationships with them.
Therefore, there is an inherent need to ground ourselves, to practice mindfulness with an intention of staying centered. By learning how to settle into the present moment, with equanimity, and heartfulness (which is another word for “mindfulness”), we can offer this loving presence of ourselves to youth or to anyone else in our life.
The great meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
I don’t know how that quotes touches you, but for me I think that it is a most sacred wish for those I love and care about- for them to “bloom like flowers.”
It turns out that it does not have to take too much time to get grounded. I also know that many of you likely spend quite a bit of time at work either at the desk or sitting in a chair. Therefore, this month we will be transforming the desk chair into our yoga mat with a simple chair yoga practice. I put together a video to support you in your practice.
Check out the video! Enjoy!
Please read our site Disclaimer below before participating in any experientials on this site.
Practice adapted from:
Le Page, J. & Le Page, L. (2005). Yoga Teachers’ Toolbox
SEATED CAT / COW
EAR TO SHOULDER / EAR AWAY FROM SHOULDER
SHOULDERS UP AND DOWN
LATERAL BEND, SEATED SIDE STRETCH
FRONTAL PLANE HEAD CIRCLES
SHOULDER ROTATING FORWARD, LOOK PAST FORWARD SHOULDER
SEATED FORWARD FOLD
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This week our practice focus is simplicity. There is so much joy that can be connected to by simply taking a moment out of the day and pausing, breathing, sensing this wakeful presence that is right here, right now and allowing all of this moment in. So please take a few moments right now to do that while you gave upon this beautiful image below:
While this blog is meant to be very readable and developmentally tailored, there are some things that just can’t be directly taught through words. The following post is an experiential guide for Three Key Tips intended to facilitate your teaching skills, and hopefully increase their impact on your students.
- Hold compassion
- Speak authentically
Practice: The hardest part of being a teacher of mindfulness can be making time to practice it your self! Have you ever noticed yourself giving advice to a friend and then realized that you don’t even follow your own advice? If not, then you are well on your way to the Mindful path (hold tight till the next paragraph). If so, you’re not alone. It is easy to see from the outside just how good certain practices can be, but to really know them, we must actually practice them! Practice, practice, practice is NUMBER ONE of the Three Key Tips. After developing a consistent practice, you might find that the other tips flow naturally from this one. If you are, or plan to be, teaching your kids or students these practices, make sure to practice them first. This will give you a deeper understanding of what you are asking them to do, and will allow you to better understand how the practices make them feel in their own bodies and minds.
Hold Compassion: Compassion for oneself and one’s students is a necessary element of the teaching and practice of mindfulness. As a teacher, it is important to hold space for every student, regardless of where they are at that day, and to hold compassion for yourself as you teach them. Teaching these practices is not about perfection, or attainment of a specific outcome, but rather how you are able to make space for, and honor, whatever is present in the moment. Neither you, nor your students need to be able to sit perfectly or concentrate without falter every single day. The fact that you are practicing, or trying to practice, is all that matters. Focus will come in time.
Speak Authentically: Leading practices with an authentic voice will affect the way that both you and your students feel in the process. Allowing your own voice and personality to shine through gives you a means to connect with your students in a way that no robotic tone can. Have you ever been to a yoga class or listened to a guided meditation that you weren’t really “feeling,” or that may have seemed a little fake? When we try to be someone that we’re not, whether it is an idol or a robot, others pick up on it. Moral of the story here: don’t be afraid to be yourself. Quirks, jokes and mistakes make the process so much more relatable!
Wishing you the best of luck on your Mindful Journey!
-The ELSPAP team
Today we are going to practice body awareness. This means that we will be moving our attention from noticing things around us to noticing things going on inside of us. Body awareness can include paying attention to emotions and parts of the body. You might notice that some places feel different than normal. If you do, you can bring your attention to that place and imagine that all of your breath is flowing into it.
We will start the practice by finding a comfortable seat. You can sit cross-legged on the floor or sit up straight in a chair depending on what is allowed in your classroom. Lift the top of your head straight up to the ceiling to make your spine long and tall. Your hands can rest either face down or face up on your legs.
If it is comfortable, gently close your eyes. We will begin to take our focus inside of the body, leaving the outside world out of our thoughts until we return to the room later. Begin to make your inhales and exhales longer. Fill up your belly on your in breath, and bring the belly in toward your spine on your out breath.
Start by bringing your attention all the way down into your toes. See if you can feel into each toe without moving them. If you’d like, you can imagine your breath traveling down your legs, into your feet, and into each toe. Eventually, the breath and focus will move into the feet too. As you breathe into your feet, pay attention to how they are feeling. Our feet carry us around almost everywhere we go, and we often don’t realize how tired they get! You can imagine that your breath in helping the feet wake up.
We will concentrate on our legs next. How do the lower parts of your legs feel? Let your in breath bring air all the way down into your lower legs. Then let your breath move up past your knees, to the upper part of your legs. Continue letting your breath travel up your body, moving to your belly. Pay attention to how your belly is feeling. Did you eat a lot of food before this practice? If so, you might want to take smaller breaths so you don’t get a tummy ache. Keep filling up the belly as you breathe in, and bringing your belly button back in as you breathe out.
From the belly, we move up to the chest. This is also the place where your heart is. Take a moment to check in with your heart. How is it feeling today? You can think about the heart as the place for your emotions too. See if you can bring all of your breath into the space around your heart, taking a few in breaths and out breaths here. From your heart, you can let your breath travel down your arms and into your fingertips, letting go of anything that isn’t making you happy.
Slowly bring the breath and focus back up through your arms and into your shoulders. The shoulders are at the top of the arms and also behind the heart at the top of your back. How are your shoulders feeling? See if you can make them feel more relaxed and open with your breath.
When you are ready, let the breath move up the neck and into the head. Notice if any thoughts come up when you get to your head. If they do, just breathe into them and let them float away. Take a few more deep in breaths and out breaths here.
Slowly let your breath return to your belly. Feeling your belly get really big like a balloon as you breathe in, and then feel it pull back toward you as you let all of the air out.
Turn your palms face down if they aren’t already, and take a few more breaths to slowly open your eyes and come back into the room.
Teachers: Can have students reflect on how the activity made them feel both emotionally and physically. Have they ever spent time focusing on their body and breath like this? This is a great way to bring down energy levels, as it is a completely internal practice.
Students: this body awareness activity is a great way to check in with your self to see how you’re doing. You can practice this every day, or maybe just when you’d like to feel a little more connected to your body.