viernes, 10 de marzo de 2017

Yoga in the class: The Spiral Mandala

Yoga in the class is a powerful tool you can use to improve the children well-being. This is why, we have been working on yoga this time in Natural Science in the unit: "Healthy habits". By taking moments throughout the sessions in the class to pause and practise some techniques with the children, they will gradually increase quality in their activities and they will develop a good habit.

When can we practice Yoga during the morning at school?
Since last year, some of our teachers are very interested in working on Yoga and Mindfulness at school because it has many mental and physical benefits in the class. Imagine that they start a new lesson after a very active session like sport or after the break. They feel stress and anxious after these lessons, so it is time to 'STOP'. It is better to practice some yoga techniques for some minutes and respiration exercises. After that they will be ready to start with more concentration and eager to learn.

Why Yoga in the class?
  • It is a good opportunity to develop the body, the mind and the spirit. The children and the teachers feel happy after this practice.
  • It is a non-competitive form of exercise and children enjoy.
  • It has many benefits, like strength, balance and flexibility.
  • They develop concentration, focus and attention; moreover, creativity and imagination.
  • They learn how to breath, how to relax and self-control.
  • And the most important, as they feel good, they respect for others and they can work better in the class.
In order to get a better environment during our lessons and to reduce anxiety, we can incorporate into our daily routines some minutes for yoga. We can use different techniques for breathing, a guided exercises of 'asanas' or, - very relaxed one!-, the visualization. Children enjoy with all of them and we can practice them in English or in Spanish as we want, because the language we use is quite easy and if we tell a story, we can do it according to the level of our students.

This time, we have created a game called 'The Spiral Mandala'. I gave to each child an eye to decorate and to colour according to their creativity. Then we organized the mandala in a big poster by sticking with glue each eye and a different 'asana" as an spiral shape. But, how to play?
You just need the poster,  a token, a dice and pleasant motivation.

Why the eye?

The eye is a symbol of observation and offers the evidences we need to interpret the things we have around us. The spiral is a mandala shaped, but 'infinite' because it can be seen in both directions again and again. It is perfect for meditation and to focus on an element.

How to play?
  1. A pupil throws the dices and counts from the eye in the centre to the positions (eyes) outwards.
  2. He/she explains physically the 'asana' to his/her classmates and they repeat the position during four or six breaths (inhalations and exhalations) depending on the possibilities of each one. It is important not to force the posture and to practice them in a calm and slow way.
  3. When it is finished the position, the student who threw the dice, throws it back to his/her classmates again and another student catches it (this is very funny to them) and the game continues again as before.
  4. The game finishes when we want because the mandala is 'infinite'. If we reach the end, we can start again from the last outwards eye until the achieve the central one and so on.
Don´t forget before you start yoga in the class:
Warm-up exercises
Asanas (they should be short and slowly. Don´t forget to breath properly)
Breathing exercises (through the nose)

Moreover if you want to practice more with your students you can also practice some 'Minfulness exercises' to focus attention, some relaxation or positive affirmations. This way you will have the PERFECT environment in your class to start your lesson :-) My favourite mantras for kids are:
  • Yes, I can. I can work hard.
  • I can help to others.
  • I can and I want to listen to others.
  • I am ready, I am ready.
If you want more about this experience for teachers in Spanish: 

Good luck in this adventure! 

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