Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Spiritual quote for the week

I came across this spiritual quote during the week, and I felt inspired to share with one of my photos.

" When one realizes God, he no longer feels that others are different from himself.
Paramhansa Yogananda

Take this into your meditation for the weekend.

Have a good weekend all. 

Blessings and Gratitude,

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.

Many Blessings,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A time to stop and smell the flowers

As the year ends for classroom teachers, the first couple of weeks are almost a daunting task to actually tell the body to slow way down. How do we do that? How can we actually just be? The school year is divided up into so many single tasks that seem to roll out like a long carpet, that never stops. I like to visualize a palace with the carpet of our tasks filling up the whole castle. The children are the princes and princesses. We are there to serve their needs as best we can.

But now the summer is for us to replenish our mind, body and souls.

I have over the years really loved and cherished the summertime.

 It is a time for me to remind myself that I am to slow down my mind from chattering, planning, and become one with the spiritual energy all around me. I begin to notice nature more profoundly, the birds, the warmth of the sun, and of course lets not forget the flowers. As I slow down I am inwardly more creative. I listen to the whispers of my soul more profoundly and the inner lessons that I am to receive.

I begin to look at my body temple. How can I replenish it as well? How well am I eating, sleeping, and exercising. I am I drinking enough water? I take the time to juice daily and eat organic foods that are grown right outside my door.
The summer also provides me with many opportunities to cook
 for my husband and try out new combinations of ingredients.

I also dive deep in my spiritual life, to journal, chant, and reading spiritual books that I haven't had the opportunity to read deeply through the school year.

  I also find more time to serve others in my family and community.

This next week I will be taking my annual meditation seclusion. It is a time of complete silence. I will not have emails to answer, phones,or internet connections. It is a time to dive deep into the spirit and to replenish my soul for the year that will unfold in the fall.

I am so grateful for this time to slow down and stop and smell the flowers.

In joyful expectancy......
May we all find solace in this season of warmth and inner joy.

Many Blessings,


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Go with Love with Guest blog: Hriman McGilloway

Since the beginning of this blog I have had this lovely heartfelt photo on my blog each month for the announcement of our reading segment, "Come gather round." 

I may have failed to describe this photo. This is our dearest friend, Nayaswami Kriyananda, the direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda.

Swami Kriyananda, aged 87, the founder of the worldwide work of Ananda and one of the few remaining living disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda, has left his physical body and this earth. His passing took place in Italy on Sunday, April 21 at 8 am (Central European time).  He had been in residence at the Ananda Center near Assisi, Italy where, each year, he would often spend a few months teaching and writing. He had been scheduled to come to America for the summer months as he has done in the last many years. Kriyananda loved young children and they loved his childlike spirit. Kriyanada was able to visit our classroom this past September and shared candy with the children. 

On this website I publish many of his writings and songs that we share in our classroom everyday.  We also share the "Little Secrets", books that he published on love, friendship and the deep meanings of happiness

I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to correspond with Kriyananda over the years through email about the Living Wisdom School of Seattle. 

  Kriyananda was a reflection of the divine and inspired many souls to reach to their highest potential and had a deep impersonal relationship with so many spiritual seekers around the globe. But  it was through his writings, music and love we all felt he was our dearest divine friend. 

In conclusion, I would like to pass along a link to this months, guest blog: Nayaswami  Hriman McGilloway 
 Nayaswami Hriman had a very special relationship with Swami Kriyananda for 36 years.  He is the spiritual director at Ananda Seattle along with his wife, Nayaswami  Padma McGilloway.  I have lived at the Ananda Community for 19 years sharing these principals of the path of Kriya yoga, meditation and Self-realization.  His writings perfectly describe more eloquently the life of Nayaswami Kriyananda. 

Please visit his blog and offer your comments and inspirations. . 

            For a more intimate look at his personal view of life, discipleship and divine teacher:
We will, however, miss him, our spiritual guide, and one who embodied so joyfully the spirit and teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.  

May we all be one in that light someday. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

Every day in the New Year!

This afternoon a friend from our community in Italy, posted on my Facebook page a deep and inspiring quote that seemed fitting to share on New Year's Eve. This might be a nice affirmation to read at midnight during your private celebrations with your family or combine it with your New Years' meditation rituals. 

These words are written by: Paramhansa Yogananda.

 "Every day in the New Year must become an altar for the God of new living, new achievements in wisdom, and new joy.
Every day in the New Year must bring hope and cheer to yourself and all humanity.
Make every day of the New Year a better day than the previous one for greater effort to succeed in business, family happiness, and increasing the ever-new joy-contact of God in meditation.
The old year has gone, but the New Year is full of treasures for you to use.
May the New Year spread the example and message of your renewed life and renewed power unto all Creation".

Happy New Year and many blessings of joy in 2013.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Peace gave us the seasons

Peace gave us the morning, Peace gave us the sun,
Bird songs that call us to welcome
Day and fresh labors begun. Amen, Amen
Peace gave us the seasons, Peace gave us the rain,
Cool clouds that gather to bless us,
Mist hands that soothe away pain. Amen, Amen.

"Peace" J. Donald Walters

Beginning a new school year always brings new rhythms, patterns and the challenge of combining an unfamiliar group of children together. At the Living Wisdom School this year another new opportunity arose. We moved our school into a new community, an older building, and for me it added a short distance of driving in rush hour traffic each morning. I was sad to give up my drive to the old school, a back road journey of driving through the local neighborhoods. 

As teachers and parents we often talk about being in a flow or a rhythm within ourselves and keeping our children in a systematic rhythm for the ease of their development. But the question came to me: What is a rhythm? I turned to Wikipedia and found a very inspiring quote: Rhythm is made up of sounds and silences. These sound and silences are put together to form a pattern of sounds which are repeated to create a rhythm.

Now of course this quote is talking about music, but rhythm also is part of our daily life. How often, though, do we really think about it? I know I spent quite a bit of time really concentrating on finding a  new rhythm and flow in driving to the new school. It is important that a Living Wisdom School teacher to be in a magnetic flow at any moment, not only when working in the classroom. 

One morning I was driving and felt a little rushed because I was running a few minutes late. I realized that I had not gotten my rhythm adapted to all the new changes. I felt my body start to become restrictive and tight. As I came to the first stoplight, I thought I would follow the route that others had told me was a faster way to drive to school.  As I was sitting at the light, I found myself beginning to visualize the shorter route. All it had was more cars, strip malls and stoplights. Was it shorter or not? And even if it was shorter, what state would I be in when I ended up in the classroom?  Immediately I realized, this was not a good route for me. I made a sharp turn and stayed on my original route. 

I begin each day with a morning meditation and my ultimate goal is to retain all that loving energy each morning to share with the families and children of Living Wisdom School. How would this stressful route help me? I might arrive a few minutes earlier, perhaps. But was it worth it?, “NO,” I answered mentally.
As I began to drive the longer route, I started to visually notice more around me. The new, slower route was like an extension of my meditation. A driving meditation of sorts.  It  traveled through the bedroom community of  Lake Forest Park,Washington and brought back my childhood memories of growing up in Bellevue, Washington in the 60’s.  It was so sweet to bring these memories into my thoughts. 

The trees were so beautiful, luscious and expansive. These qualities all expanded my thoughts and brought me back to my morning meditations.

How could I ever think of starting my day by driving any other way? I just love it. It adds a melodious rhythm to my morning, the, sounds of the streams, peace, and tranquil memories.. I am so blessed now to have this drive to work each morning and to begin my day with these patterns of light and sounds that bring me into my inner state of rhythm.

Everyone can try it. Let me know how it goes. May we all find that sense of rhythm within our day so we may share our peace with all whom we meet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Your eyes are the window into the soul

This week at the Living Wisdom School our classrooms celebrated with one of our staff members her national heritage, culture and events in her early life. She has a extraordinary story to tell about coming to this country with her family on a boat from Vietnam. She is one of my dearest friends and shares so much joy with many truth-seekers. Her generosity is so humbling. 

  Together we were able to participate in the Vietnamese New Year and tour the local Buddhist Temple just around the corner from where we live in Lynnwood,Washington. We took a small group of older students there this afternoon from our 3rd-5th grade class at the Living Wisdom School.

This is a magical spiritual place and I wanted the children from our school to feel the power and devotion that is so measurable on the grounds.

There is a section at the top of the property, lined with over 30 statures of Buddha and Quan Yin.

Devotional Prayers   

Walking peacefully together in a prayer mediation, we instructed the children as to the deeper meanings of each Buddha. I also spoke to them that each stature represented a small part of themselves inwardly.

One of the third graders said to me, "You can really look into their eyes and see the difference."  Many of these children have been at our Living Wisdom School now for many years. They know what it is like to pray, meditate, chant and they see themselves as light and energy bodies.

Even though stormy weather had closed down the New Years celebrations, the temple remained open just for our students. They were also personally guided through prayers in the temple by one of the monks. They were able to do full saluations to the Buddha along side of him.  Two of the boys when leaving today said to me," I wish I could live here."

Lightening incense and offering prayers to the great ones.

This was a deep experience for all of us today.

May your heart and soul be filled with gratitude during this auspicious time in the Asian New Year.

" I bow to the soul in you as you bow to the soul in me
And together we are one." 

Aum, Namaste