YogaBreaks for the Classroom - I

12/10/2018

Comparto tres textos breves en inglés sobre YogaBreaks en el aula, creados para una escuela de habla inglesa que quería asesoramiento sobre cómo incorporar la práctica de yoga en el día a día, dentro del aula.
La intención era que los profesores y maestros pudieran ofrecer a los niños una pausa para practicar ejercicios de yoga muy simples pero efectivos, en medio del día escolar y sin necesidad de salir de la clase, mover muebles o colocar esterillas de yoga. 
"Yoga Breaks for the Classroom" ofrece una pequeña y breve guía para acompañar a los niños hacia una pausa para respirar, alinear el cuerpo y centrarse, en medio de la jornada de colegio.
Con la práctica diaria, estas herramientas se van transformando en algo cotidiano y de fácil acceso, tanto para l@s niñ@s como para l@s docentes, pudiendo recurrir a ellas siempre que lo necesiten.


Introduction.

As you probably already know, Yoga is of great value to help manage stress, increase focus, and be physically balanced.

Apart from these well known benefits, incorporating yoga breaks in the Classroom brings children very simple tools to have "always in hand" for coping with the unique issues they're faced with everyday.  

And, as a sweet "bonus", yoga breaks will also give you, teacher, a restorative break in the middle of your busy day :)

Without having to move furniture, clean off the desks or get on a yoga mat, just take a yoga break whenever you, or your class, need a moment to pause.

    You will be helping students to:

  • Be more effective learners during class time
  • Learn to self-regulate and manage stress
  • Build teamwork and lifetime fitness skills
  • Build focus and concentration
  • Increase strength and balance

and experience yourself its benefits too, as a "side effect" :)

YogaBreaks for the Classroom -It can be Done!

Yoga itself can be very wide, but also very simple. That´s part of the "magic" of Yoga.

However, although you don´t need to "see the big picture of yoga" to be able to lead school Yoga-Breaks, knowing a few basic principles could be of much help.

My purpose in writing this text is to encourage you to bring some easy Yoga techniques to your classroom, not to become a yoga teacher after reading these lines, cause such thing would be near to impossible!

I´m  just introducing some yoga basics, made easy for you to get inspired.

These basic principles, and a regular personal practice (no matter how brief) will provide, day to day, a solid foundation for you to be able to guide this short but effective practice with confidence.

This said, let´s get into it!

Yoga, simplified.

Yoga in essence is not about difficult body postures. Yoga is just about "taking a moment": taking a moment to really BE in the moment.

And why is this "being in the moment" so popular?

Because the sole experience of "being in the moment" makes us feel good: bringing awareness to the present automatically takes the weight of thoughts and worries off our minds, opening our perception to a different way to Be. 

So, apart from useful tools to move our body and gain strength and flexibility,  Yoga provides some proven tips to achieve this awareness of the present moment and, so, feel better. Feel at ease. And this is, in truth, the ultimate goal of Yoga practice.

However, nowadays and mostly in our Western world,  yoga practices can look very different between themselves, basically depending on where the practice puts its focus on. It´s very common to highlight the physical aspect and leave the mental aspect one step back.

But, even in these apparently physical yoga sessions, we can easily distinguish some basic principles, those which are common to every yoga practice and that are the ones that will help us build our YogaBreaks for the Classroom right from the start.

To build an orderly and well founded yoga practice, I recommend you to get familiar with these basic aspects, which are in the essentials of Yoga.

These principles are really simple and easy, but it usually takes a while to actually integrate them, as our busy lives tend to make us disregard simple things.

I like to think of them as short "steps" that we can make, one by one, from the first to the last. And these basic "steps" are in itself a yoga practice; a most basic and yet effective yoga practice.

Step 1:

Build awareness of the support of the earth 

Seated or standing, bring awareness to the Ground beneath you and how it bears and supports your weight. 

If you are standing, set your feet comfortably parallel between each other, one fist distance apart, with the weight of the body equally distributed on both feet. If you are seated, bring awareness to the feet and also to your sitbones and your hips, comfortably supported on the chair and through the chair, connected to the earth beneath. 

From this well supported base, imagine you could keep rooting downwards, deeper than the building´s floor, the house´s foundations and right into the Earth. If on a chair, press your sit bones and ground down through them too, into the chair and down beyond.

Step 2:

Build awareness of your Alignment

Guide your attention from the support of the earth and your feet or sit bones towards your spine, and feel it emerging from the ground up, nice and long. Align your chest and your head on top of the hips...and lengthen the spine upwards, creating space between your vertebrae.

Step 3:

Build awareness to relaxing muscles which you don´t need at the present moment

Shoulders and jaw tend to be tense... arms, hands, toes.. eye brows, face muscles... Just scan your body looking for "hidden" tension, and every time you exhale, release them further. 

Tip 4:

Build awareness of Breath

Once you´ve grounded and checked your alignment and hidden tensions, start gaining awareness of your Breath. Allow your breath to flow normally, feeling the air passing into and out of your nostrils... 

Once you´ve made a few long and conscious breathing cycles, you can either move to the next step, or move further to any of the Breathing Techniques further described on in this Guide.

Tip 5:

Build awareness of your thoughts, and "lower the volume" of your thoughts and ideas

If you get distracted by thoughts, wether nice or disturbing, just let them pass on and leave them for later -you´ll always have time to pay attention to them when you finish your yoga break.

Tip 6:

Return to Breath.

Just breathe calmly in stillness for a short while... and then go back to your day!

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These simple steps are the basics of any yoga practice. And also, following these steps is an effective practice in itself.

Of course, yoga can be made more varied by adding some other interesting "ingredients" which make the practice more attractive and surprising, or can be adapted to a particular situation, depending on your needs. In our particular case, we will be adapting our yoga practice to fit in the Classroom.

(Continues in Next Post)


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