A new venture- Children and Family Yoga

In November 2017 I completed my 95- hour Yoga Alliance children’s yoga teacher training in India with a wonderful woman called Teressa Asencia, who has created an amazing teacher training based on her ‘Yoga in your school’ project, which was formed upon the five elements and partner poses (see link to her books here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teressa-Asencia/e/B001JS7K82 )

The way in which Teressa taught me was through the Five Element stories she constructed.  This included some partner poses from her ‘playful family yoga’ book. I was lucky enough to receive this training one to one, so was able to share experiences with Teressa, some more on the personal side, and she was able to conduct the training with my needs and interests in mind.

We read through stories, shared experiences, and views of how we both see ourselves within the world of children and family yoga going forward.  She taught me songs, activities, sun salutation chants, partner poses, alongside the main 5 stories each focusing on one element.

After the morning’s session on my first day, Teressa then told me that there would be a class this afternoon with a mother and daughter and that she would like me to assist with the class.  Initially I was dubious about this having just been taught the class that morning, but Teressa made me feel so at ease, as she does in her classes evidently, that I wanted the challenge to involve myself on the very first day.  Happy I did it? Absolutely!!  It was a great experience with a lovely French mother and daughter who were very open to this method of yoga and seemed to enjoy it and have a great laugh while doing it.  The sense of unity in the room and thanks they gave at the end of the class was very rewarding for me, and I can already see the great benefit this type of family yoga could be for the whole family as it is an experience of them coming together.

I have been writing my own yoga stories which I feel could greatly benefit children and families with a specific need, such as a child that won’t go to sleep, stick to a routine, or simply a family who just want to have more fun together!  I love the fact that I can write stories and class plans which are bespoke to each child/family, depending on what they would be hoping to gain from the practice.

‘where there is darkness, bring light’

Jen x

Drops of thought

How strange it was,

The occurrence during the last part of my course,

As I was leading a relaxation,

Such obvious symbolism which I could not force.

As I lay on my back listening to the water on the ceiling,

A drop of water fell perfectly

Straight into my vision.

The first fell directly onto my heart chakra,

And then another a minute later,

Right onto my third eye.

I almost wanted to cry.

I love it when this kind of thing happens,

Is it a sign telling me to love myself,

Be kind to myself,

And look through my minds eye,

And to myself give,

The life I truly want to live.

 

See this as a mindfulness symbol,

Our past selves, our past experiences,

As drops of water,

Just as these.

As they rain down onto us,

And affect us in so many ways,

It is what we do with them,

How we deal with them,

That impacts us each in the following days.

The drops that appear from the other side

Shape our future,

That, of which, we cannot hide.

But there is no need to hide,

It only about our understanding inside.

Whatever has been,

And will be,

All we ever has is this moment,

That’s all there is to see. 

 

'be present, to be presented to yourself'

Jen x

Mindfulness in schools- whats the big deal?

So as an individual, or parent, interested in the education system or child development, it is likely that you may have come across the concept of mindfulness based interventions and how they are having a positive impact on children’s well-being and behaviour in schools.  There are many methods in which schools are employing people externally to run programs, or they are providing training for the teachers themselves to implement mindful methods into the daily teaching schedule.

From my past experience of working with children I was particularly impressed with one organization The Special Yoga Foundation which is based in London.  This is a small charity with big aspirations, and they provide yoga for children and adults with special needs alongside those who don’t have special needs.  I met the founder and course creator, Jyoti, who is an amazing person with big ideas of how she sees the charity developing and spreading the mindfulness based interventions far and wide. Jyoti compiled a training program for teachers which equips them with a variety of tools they can use at a click of a button or with just two minutes to spare.  These include tools such as a 2 minute relaxation within the classroom or a few yoga postures and stretches- see the link to their website here- https://specialyoga.org.uk/. It was exciting talking to her about the program especially due to its focus on making these methods so easily accessible and workable for teachers to integrate into their daily work in schools.

Mindfulness is spreading around schools across the world, and there are a few organisations in America whose successes have been shared widely on social media in recent times.  One of these is a school in Baltimore where they have introduced a ‘mindful moment’ room.  To put this into context, the school is in a highly unsafe area with many vulnerable children who routinely engage in criminal activity and who regularly abscond from school.  As a consequence there are high rates of students with emotional problems causing daily conflicts between students in the school leading to a pattern of low achievement rates.  This was the reality of this school, and being a student there pretty much meant that your prospects for achieving well and integrating well into society were quite bleak.  That was …. until they introduced mindfulness into the school.  Aggression rates in the school have now reduced hugely which has lead to 100% of all suspensions being abolished.  This school’s ‘mindful moment room ’ has served to replace detentions, and by teaching the students that when they feel they can’t concentrate, or they are getting themselves riled up and into trouble, they can go and calm themselves down in a safe quiet space.  Someone is always there to support them and help them with techniques if necessary.

Another school in the USA introduced a ‘calm down beanbag’, which has resulted in young children taking themselves over to it during a class, and taking a minute to breathe slowly and calm themselves down before returning back to their desk and to the task at hand.  Unlike traditional time out methods – the child, in this case, has learned to take control themselves and thus has a feeling of achievemnt.  I find this a very exciting concept, that young children are learning to recognize their emotions and are taking it upon themselves to calm down and breathe for a moment, without being instructed to. This is something that all children need, especially following the Ferrell and Barrett claim in 2007 that ‘numbers of children being diagnosed with anxiety and depression is increasing at an alarming rate’.  So 10 years on from this, the problem remains on a rapid increase, making it evermore important for us all to act now because, should we leave it to fester any longer, the problem will only get worse, and it will affect not only these children and their families, but subsequent generations in the future.

‘Remember, balance is key’

Jen x