Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"
Showing posts with label Childrens Yoga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Childrens Yoga. Show all posts

Monday, September 2, 2013

What can a yoga class look like for children and how can it benefit my child?







  What can a yoga class look like for children and how can it benefit my child?

I have been teaching Ananda Yoga to children since 2002, when I received my first training from Ananda Yoga. This was also the first year of the Living Wisdom Preschool which is now the Living Wisdom School of Seattle. Just as the school has evolved with over 50 students my yoga classes have also evolved over the years. I am now teaching 4 classes a week during the school year to about 40 students. The ages I mostly teach are ages 3-8. 


Now often I get many puzzled looks about how I can teach a 3 year old yoga but I have found teaching to the young child can be uplifting, joyful, creative, and entertaining. I believe in teaching children's yoga it is all about moving, centering, listening and creating a deeper state of calmness that a child can tune into on their own. 


So what is Ananda Yoga and how does this differ from other types of yoga techniques?

Many hatha yoga traditions are generally known for toning and stretching the muscles, building strength and flexibility. It also promotes cardiovascular health and emotional well-being and providing stress relief. Yoga also stimulates and invigorates internal organs and thus encouraging the body to heal itself and one that really helps our children is it improves concentrations and focus while increasing mental clarity. 

But Ananda Yoga also provides our children about body control and breath without force, and a gentle ease of,well being connectedness, vitality and inner joy that can help children in their daily routines. Ananda Yoga helps us tune into our bodies opening up the energy channels, that awakens the subtle life force. We learn how to move the energy inward, feel and then move it upward. The children learn the subtle ways to tense, relax, and feel their energy. 
Ananda Yoga also uses subtle affirmations with each asana. The children can memorize these and use them in their daily lives when faced with different circumstances. 

" With calm faith, I open to thy light" 
"Through mightiest storms I stand serene"


A typical yoga class can last for about 40 minutes. I begin with the flow learning. Flowing Learning created by the Sharing Nature Foundation is a simple, and natural framework that can sequence activities and teaches in a systematic way.  "Awakening Enthusiasm" Each class begins with a bell, and I say:



Now in deep faith and gratitude we come to the practice of yoga . 




 We continue with  a song, or a story with our warm up poses. This changes depending on who I may be teaching at any specific time.
After I have matched my energy to all the children, then we begin our day.
These are story cards that we may in . Each child selects a card and we carefully weave our asanas and story through the daily class.
I like to start out with easier asanas first to " Focus Attention".
In Ananda Yoga we do all the starting asanas standing up first. These asanas awaken the body and awaken the energy channels and flow in the body.


I often teach asanas each week the exact same way,and build on their strength and I tune into the asanas that are their favorites. I have found the ages beginning at age 4 the children really need to build core, upper body and upper leg strength. This helps them in all areas of their physical lives. I have found yoga strengthens their bodies to make them stronger runners for soccer, stronger upper body strength for swimming and leg strength for body awareness and control of their upper torso.



The next stage of our yoga class is "Direct Experience." These are the times of deep concentration. This can happen during our "deep relaxation" visualization journey that the children go on, a short meditation we practice together  or  a song that I sing while ringing our ending bell:  "I am rocking until I get real still "segment of our class."This is ultimate climax to the class and the ultimate joy of experiencing the deeper aspects of yoga together.



All of this is done with familiarity from week to week can be  with games, stories, puppets, story cards and songs.
I have many tricks in my magic basket from 12 years of teaching yoga,  that I share. All the  classes build on one and other/ It keeps things actively calm and calmly active.



At the very end of class I offer our" Shared Inspiration" segment of the class. This is when I pull out an muti-faceted glowing egg. We all pass our egg around as we share together the quality of the color that that the egg is releasing for us. As they hold the egg, it turns spiritual colors. The colors represent, love, wisdom, calmness, truth, healing and kindness. They love to hold the egg and share their quality their families after class .
Ananda Yoga allows the children to expand their realities outside of the classroom and share those qualities in other situations and events.


Above all of the techniques and rituals of any yoga class, it is my deepest devotion to share yoga with children. I am humbled and honored.

As we say at the end of our class:
I bow to the soul in you,
I bow to the soul in me
and together we are one.
Namaste


Many Blessings,
Chandi

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mother we thank you!


 Summer's Glow Original Watercolor by Elaine Frenett, Ashland, Oregon
 Today we celebrated our last class for the school year. In the past two weeks we finished up our garden unit and spent some time with creating our habitats for the new caterpillars. 
Divine Mother always has her own timing while working simultaneously collaborating with nature.
We were late in the season to start this project but our caterpillars hatched just in time for our last day of school.
 It was a perfect day, to release our butterflies as our last ceremony of the year. 

We had many fun activities leading up to this moment. 
 Creating three dimensional watercolor paintings 
                                     
 Creating our butterfly habitat in the classroom. 
  
 Sharing Nature with Children:
Duplication Game
The items were shown to the children and then they explored in the forest for the same items to duplicate.
Caterpillar stories, math games, and songs


 Yoga postures and stories about Gerdy and Caty. Gerdy is a goose and Caty was a caterpillar. I created a yoga story that was told all week  in class about how the caterpillar and the goose becoming fast friends. . 
video
                             
    This was a very sweet video that our children were able to watch. They were only three years old when this was taken, so it was exciting for them see how fast they had grown in a year's time. 

But the most exciting was for the children to watch the birth and unfolding of these amazing creatures. We were all in a state of reverence as we carefully set them free today. As Divine Mother's perfect metaphor, it was time to set the butterflies free and for our children to spread their wings and fly too.    

 They were our friends just for a little while,


What glorious smiles on their faces as we shared our last precious moments of our school year together. 

Mother we thank you,
Your joy shines in everything. 
Open these channels so the world once more may sing. 



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spirit in Nature;The Feeling Years.






  Spirit in Nature is a Saturday and holiday program of uplifting activities for children ages 2-12.  The programs that I am creating takes advantage of the natural beauty of a variety of local parks and provides children with joyous experiences. Program activities, including yoga, crafts, and bird-watching, are designed to foster positive attitudes and mindfulness to have a lasting beneficial effect on children’s lives.  Today I had the opportunity to work with two young sisters. It was an entirely different nature outing  from yesterday but both had their strengths. As a teacher I had to be creative and mindful of the beauty and the differences.  

Today the girls were ages 6 and 8. Both of these young ladies are very intuitive, expansive and have an ability to express their feelings maturely in almost every situation today. I was captivated by how they tuned into nature so quickly without me having to talk very much. We were able to just feel, listen and explore nature together. Often times they would just walk quietly listening, or notice a still section of the stream. 

The Education for Life system is divided up into four "Stages of Maturity". Each stage of childhood is expressed naturally and we have developed strategies that help unlock children's highest potential. 

Today these young ladies were a magnet for feeling life. They had the ability with maturity to harness and channel any turbulent emotions between siblings while being in touch with their own calm,sensitive natures. I was able to relate to each child individually and they were able to joyfully relate to each other in an harmonious way.


Each had their own strengths but I also felt we all were enjoying nature simultaneously together. 



"I am calm and poised" 




We began the morning much like yesterday. We sang two opening songs, a short prayer and yoga to begin our day. This was very sweet and deeply inspiring, as they showed me their favorite asanas. Both of these girls have been in my Yoga classes at the Living Wisdom School and the Living Wisdom Day Camp. I love how they can incorporate energy, magnetism and expansion. The backward bend below has such an upward motion of expansion from the heart. 


It was magical today as the sun was blessing us in the meadow. 


  
" I am free, I am free.

 We finished our yoga and began to play the "Animal game". This was fun and spontaneous. Children love secrets at this age so acting out the animal is perfect for this age group. 



She was the baby "fry" in the stream.


We quickly headed up the path in search of the baby salmon. But today the holding tank had been closed so the girls weren't able to view the imprinting tank.  This didn't stop them, the river seemed to draw their attention right away. They got in it immediately by wading, touching, feeling and exploring. They looked at the smallest miniature fungus to the largest expansive trees over head.
  

Mosses of all types, mushrooms, sporophytes and a log that was cut on the path. How old is this tree? About 50 life cycles we counted. " Hey, that tree is older than my mom!"
"Can you feel the energy from the sun, Chandi"
One of the girls, just looked up at the sky and said to me:"Chandi, isn't that blue sky just  magnificent? She begins to take another deep breath filling her whole energy body with color.

Even the drains at the salmon tank were beautiful with many layers of different stories told. We also talked about how we could create clay presses and  multiple patterns on paper drawings with crayons.

There were so many layers of exploring in one morning. During one quiet interlude while walking on the path down to the Puget Sound we stopped and played the Sound Map Game.



When we arrived at the sound today it was a beautiful crisp winter day.

We began eating our lunch and then I led the children through an abbreviation of
"Expanding Circles", from Listening in Nature by Joseph Cornell

I led them through a brief visualization to look out right in front of them at the pebbles on the beach, now hold that image. Open your heart to all the living animals, rocks, and seaweed that lie there. Now expand your vision to the waves, expand your circle to the birds floating in the sound.  Now expand your vision across the sound to the land, beyond. Now imagine, that you can feel everything as your self. Feel like you are holding the sound and all the living things in it.
Close your eyes and feel that peace.

This is a shorten version of" Expanded Circles" but a powerful tool for raising spiritual awareness and consciousness.
The girls completed their own nature collages and then we finished with a closing circle. We individually shared our inspirations from the day and blessed the park in all four directions.




I want to leave you with a quote from John Muir taken from Sharing Nature II, by Joseph Cornell.

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energies, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

May we all feel oneness with spirit in nature. Step outside and explore its profound beauty.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Spirit in Nature


             
It is winter break for a couple of days at the Living Wisdom School, so I am branching out and taking a few extra days in February, March, and April to share my love of nature and spirit with children.

 We started out this morning with three students in a small group setting. I begin each session using the Flow Learning™  techniques from the 
                          and the Education for Life principals. 

These techniques give a teacher or parent a structured simple way to guide children into a direct experience in nature that is uniquely their own. I highly recommend this for teachers when exploring nature with children of all ages. These activities along with books are all easily accessible on the
Sharing with Nature Foundation Website. 

The first stage of the sequential flow learning is:
Awakening Enthusiasm  

We began with a circle, mindful dance, and two songs. We awoke our energy with the Superconsciousness Living Exercises and then centered our energy with a few yoga postures. The yoga postures used today were reflective of the environment in the park.
Warrior
"I joyfully manifest the power of spirit"
                                         
Positioning ourselves in our warrior asanas


We played another game that introduced our surrounding habitats and the wildlife animals that live there.
In this game I had prepared cards with photos. Each child took a card and acted out their animal and gave clues to everyone else.
We all had fun guessing the animals.

              After we finished the game the expedition began. We were looking for river otters, raccoon's baby salmon called; fry, and baby seals on the beach. Excitement filled the air as we began our journey in search for animals.

We began by using our compass. Our car was parked in the southwest corner of the park. We headed north to the crest of the river.
The second stage of the sequential flow learning is:

               We walked the trail and took a little break(above) to play the "Sound Map Game".  Each child sat perfectly still closing their eyes and began to count all the sounds that they could hear close by.
I was surprised to hear the "made up sounds" that they were coming up with. What fun that was.

We ventured up a very steep hill to find out that we were on the wrong side of the creek to view the baby salmon. So with great enthusiasm we headed back the way we came.  With a short detour we came upon the salmon imprinting pond.

The third stage of the sequential flow learning is called:

I read the information and picture information for the children on park signs that is stated below:

 About 70,000 chum fingerlings are first introduced into the Les Malmgren imprinting pond at Carkeek Park each winter, and 5,000 additional eggs are provided to approximately 25 elementary schools that raise and release their salmon into the imprint pond at Carkeek Park each spring as an activity of the Salmon in the Schools Program. The young chum are held in the pond under the care of diligent volunteers and fed for about three weeks to imprint them to the “smell” of the creek system, which helps them return as adults to spawn.


This is a picture of the pond we were able to see today. They were able to directly see the baby salmon and experience the long swim that it would take the salmon to head down the creek.

The rest of the morning we were following the river to the Puget Sound and the trail that the baby salmon have to swim in order to survive in the wild. We passed over many foot bridges and paths together. 




This is almost to the Puget Sound along the rivers edge. The children kept talking about how far the little fish had to swim and how hard it must be. There were many predators along the creek edge just waiting for a mid-morning snack.

 All along each path and on the beach the children gathered small pieces of bark, lichens, mosses, seaweed, pine-cones, shells, and beach glass off the ground. 
I wanted to do a nature craft with the children and this would help to complete the last segment of the flow learning sequence.

The fourth stage of the sequential flow learning is called:

This is the stage where children begin to absorb the inner state of beauty and awareness. They often will say to me:"Oh, I just love it here. Please let's stay longer. Can I come back tomorrow? 

Above in the photos are the nature collages we created by using all the items we collected from our morning walk through the trails and on the beach. These were glued carefully and artistically placed on each piece of bark. They were very mindful in placing them in just a certain order. 


We ended the day sharing in a circle what our favorite activities had been and what we experienced. Together with parents we chanted three aums blessing Carkeek Park and all the animals. 

It was a beautiful winter outing as our souls joyfully connected with spirit and nature. 

Until tomorrow with our next nature group goes to Carkeek Park in Seattle, Washington.