You know the calm mind, rosy cheeks, and openness of heart you feel when you walk out of a yoga class? That same beautiful feeling and physiological response is happening when a child walks out of their yoga class. The nervous system calms, the mind focuses, and in turn the world seems brighter. Kid’s yoga has become a huge and important platform to inspire movement, practice kindness and gain an understanding of what interconnection feels like. It allows for moments of quiet to find the space to finally exhale.
Living in Portland, Oregon I am about 2,100 miles away from Chicago, Illinois, but just 10 short miles from the most recent school shooting. I am not alone in saying it has been a hard and heavy week. With 74 mass shootings in less than 2 years, most of the country now has had the “Too close to home” feeling that Chicago has been feeling even more deeply. As I sit here I can feel the sadness of loss and worry for the future.
I am however a regular yoga practitioner and a meditator and have learned the beauty of moving toward the feelings. I am feeling more inspired now than ever to stomp my foot and create a ripple of change. As the co-owner and curriculum director of Imagination Yoga we are inspiring positive global change in the hearts and minds of children, parents and teachers… It takes the village. What if the solution is as simple and powerful as the word connection or union? Connection to ourselves, our children, our community, and the greater good. My intention is not to write another sad story, but rather offer you some tools to help us all RAISE UP!
Over the last 10 years we have turned our love of yoga into a curriculum based yoga program that guides students down the path of; Kindness, Calm, Gratitude, and Concentration. Raise your voice, open your heart… Enough is enough! Combat the violence by introducing yoga to the kids in your life. Outlined below are a few easy ways to practice these beautiful yogic concepts with your own children. It’s time we all take it personally and do what we can to elevate the current situation.
Kind Hearts, Kind Words, Kind Thoughts is the Imagination Yoga Mantra and a wonderful way to teach kids about interconnection. Our words matter, our actions matter, and the intention we put out is felt. Always do your best to come back and connect with your true great nature and see the light in others.
Kindness Activity: Put your Namasté hands to your heart and honor the uniqueness of your kind hearts, as well as honoring the uniqueness of all hearts and say, “Kind Hearts”. Next, put your hands to your lips and be reminded of the power of your words. Words can help lift someone up or words can hurt. Be reminded to use your kind words as you say “Kind Words”. Finally, put your hands to your head recognizing the power of your thoughts and the importance of your kind actions and say, “Kind Thoughts”. Repeat the words Kind Hearts, Kind Words, Kind Thoughts with the hand placements 3 times.
It is easiest to explain what calm is, by talking about what is isn’t. Is calm angry? No. Is calm wildly running around the house? No. Ask your child to show you what their mad, sad, wild face/body looks like. Tell them to take a deep breath and show you what calm looks like. Sit with that calmness for a few moments of quiet time and let the feeling absorb.
Calm Activity: The Big Full Yoga Breath begins by taking a deep breath to help to identify an emotion while at the same time offering a tool to come back into balance. Practicing a daily quiet time/breathing activity with your family is a wonderfully simple gift to give to yourself and your family.
When talking to children we explain gratitude as: A HUGE Thank you… Like 1,000 thank you’s all wrapped up together! We say ‘thank you’ for passing the milk. We say I’M GRATEFUL for things like having a home to live in, for having a kind family, for having enough food to eat, and for the sun shining again today!
Create a Gratitude Jar by picking a jar and putting it in a noticeable place in your home. You and your family can add little notes or pictures to it as things come up that make you feel grateful.
Go for a Gratitude Walk. Have the children point to things on the walk that they feel grateful for. This is a great opportunity to talk about nature and interconnection… and how we all need each other. The trees need the sun to grow, we need the trees to breath, the bugs need the plants to eat, etc.
For more information on Imagination Yoga and the benefits of bringing yoga into children’s lives, please visit www.imaginationyoga.com. And if you’re interested in attending an upcoming workshop or if you’d like us to bring a workshop nearer to you, please visit www.imaginationyoga.com/teacher_trainings