Yoga With Rob Chambers


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Children's Yoga Two

Yoga and breathing in the classroom

The following is a sample 20-minute session that could be used to
educate teachers in Yoga and breathing techniques.
As a teacher, do you find yourself saying to your students, 'pay
attention; 'settle down' or 'I want you to listen and concentrate on
what I am saying'? If any of these phrases ring true, the following are
some tools to help create a receptive learning environment with
children who are relaxed, alert and focused.

To begin, I need to explain some 'basics' about Yoga and breathing, giving you an understanding of how it all works.

Yoga and breathing benefits reach far beyond helping to improve balance
and flexibility. The true essence is the connection between body and
mind which provides the link to keeping ourselves healthy and happy.
Besides improving posture, Yoga can also engender feelings of
well-being and self-esteem. It requires a certain degree of
concentration, encouraging the mind to focus on one thing (which is a
wonderful discipline) and thus brings a greater sense of clarity. Such
skills improve the ability to focus attention which can only bring
positive results in a classroom environment. The breath provides this
intricate link connecting mind and body. Therefore if the mind is
focused completely on the breath, the body will respond naturally.
Instead of calling the sessions yoga, it would be more appropriate to
call them breathing and body awareness.

Another really important idea to put across is this. Encourage the
class to take all the energy they would normally use during the day,
such as listening, speaking, filtering emotions, following directions,
and so on. and use that energy and attention to turn inwards to their
own personal inner space, listening to their bodies while practising

Type A

Hyperactive, Disruptive, externalised, after play or break time.

With this type of behaviour, the left brain hemisphere is dominant.
We need to work on stimulating the opposite hemisphere to bring a state
of balance; therefore we need to get rid of the excess energy first by
using the exhalation; then we can focus on a quiet activity.

Standing balloon breath:

Inhale and raise arms above head.
As you exhale, make the arms come back down in front of you and wiggle
while making the sound of a balloon losing its air. Repeat.

Standing breathing:

Imagine there are holes in the centre
of your feet, which you breathe through. Let`s take some deep breaths
in and out and pretend that we are breathing through our feet. Now add
your arms. Inhaling, bring your arms above your head. Exhale. Let them
come back to your sides. Only think about your breath and the movement
of your arms. Take your time. Focus on the movement and the breath.

Now let's add tip toes: Inhaling, bring your arms above your head and come up on your toes; exhale coming down. Repeat.

Alternate nostril breathing:

(Breathing with one nostril at a time; purifying the channels in which energy/air flow)

This exercise creates a sense of calmness and tranquillity. The flow of breath is equalised through both nostrils.

Begin by sitting in a position in which you
are most comfortable. If on a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor.
Let your tailbone drop down, shoulders drawn back, and slightly tuck in
the chin so that the neck feels long. Most importantly, remember to
keep the spine straight in line with head and neck.
right handed, place the right thumb against the right nostril, the
fourth finger pressing against the elft nostril. Let the other fingers
rest on the bridge of the nose. Breathe in through the left nostril
while blocking the air passage on the opposite side. Inhale from the
same nostril and exhale through the left (closing and releasing
nostrils with alternate thumb or finger). Breathe slowly, softly evenly
and deeply. This is one round. Practise five rounds, increasing to ten
when comfortable. (if it sems too complicated to use one hand, try
using both hands, covering alternate nostrils with index finger from
right and left side).


We are now going to prepare for relaxation. Place your arms on your
desk, make your hands into fists and place one fist on top of the
other. Now rest your forehead on your fists.
Breathe in and out through your nose, head neck and spine straight,
sitting quietly, feet hip width apart firmly touching the floor. Let
your shoulders drop, chin slightly tucked into the chest so the back of
neck can stretch and relax, eyes closed slightly.

Try to stay in this position. No more physical movement. Repeat quietly
to yourself, "I will remain awake and aware". Take a deep breath in,
exhale and let all your worries, tension and tiredness melt away.

Think about your body relaxing. Start from your feet, ankles, calves,
thighs buttocks, back and spine, shoulder blades, shoulders, hands,
arms shoulders, neck, back of head, all soft and relaxed.
Allow the class to stay for about 30 seconds to a minute in this
position and think of a nice image. You can set the scene or leave it
up to them.

Next, ask them to wriggle their toes, wriggle fingers, slowly breathe
in and out through their noses, feel their feet firmly on the ground.
They then rub their hands together making them warm before placing the
hands over the closed eyes, feeling the warmth, then slowly letting the
hands slide down before opening the eyes.

Type B

Lethargic, withdrawn, tired, hungry, after lunch

In such cases, the right brain hemisphere is dominant. Therefore we need to externalise the attention.

"Blackboard" Writing

Begin by finding a partner. One person sits with his or her back to
the partner. The person sitting behin begins by "erasing" the board.
Using gentle strokes in any direction, they proceed to "clean the
board". If students do not know each other, you can ask them to spell
their names. The child being written on has to guess the letters and
the name. If the children already know each other, be creative. They
can write down their favourite colours, food, pet etc. Then switch

Growing Tree (breathing together with sound)

Sanding in a circle, we will work on our
breathing. Breathing with sound. We are going to grow like a tree,
using the sound to help us grow. First level is AA (as in car). Second is 00 (as in door). Third level is EE (as in tree).
Begin with your arms by your sides and think about your breathing down in your tummy. Chant AA.
Now put your arms with elbows close together in front of your chest. Chant 00.
Raise your arms above your head, spreading the fingers like the leaves on a tree. Chant EE.
Now chant in reverse E 00 Am (closing your mouth). Inhale and repeat. AA OO EE, inhale, EE 00 AMM
We add the mmm to create balance and bring relaxation. To create energy do not add the mmm to the end of the vowel.

Lion Pose

This pose has many benefits relieving or even protecting against a
sore throat, relaxing the muscles of the jaw, improving the quality of
the voice and can help control stuttering. Best of all, children love
doing it!

Sitting on the heels or on a chair with the feet flat on the ground and spine straight and relaxed, breathe slowly and smoothly.
Exhaling, open your mouth widely, stick your tongue out as far as you
can. At the same time, open your eyes as wide as you can.
you have no more air left to breathe out, pull your tongue back in and
close your mouth. Close your eyes. Relax the muscles of your neck,
face, arms and hands. Breathe slowly and smoothly.

Type C:

Fidgety and distracted after a lot of desk work at desk, Friday afternoons...

This behaviour needs movement, comfort and stability.

Magic feet

I frequently use this pose in my class with very good results.
Focusing on the feet can have a wonderful, almost magical, affect on
the rest of our body, correcting our posture as well as giving us a
feeling of lightness. This exercise combines physical body mechanics,
awareness of the breath and lots of imagination. Children love to use
their imaginations so this fits in perfectly.

Standing with feet hip width apart, keep the spine straight but relaxed
by dropping the sitting bones (or tailbone). This automatically draws
back the shoulders and opens the chest.The chin is slightly tucked in,
making the neck feel long and straight.

Close your eyes and feel your feet sinking into the ground. Feel as
though your feet are huge, heavy like a giant's spreading deeply into
the ground. Breathe deeply and quietly. Now wriggle your toes, lift
your big toe and try to keep the little ones on the floor (this can
actually help stimulate your digestion). Now little toes on the up and
big toes on the floor. Use your imagination: play the piano with your
toes. Now stand in a big bowl of spaghetti. Now spread butter on toast
with your toes. Now stand on a beach: the sand is warm and soft; water
comes in and your feet get wet and cold; it goes out and the sand warms
them again. Now focus on your breath, feel as though you are breathing
through your feet.

Bumble bee breath

The Bumble bee breath is an extremely comforting and nurturing
breathing technique. Personally, it is my favorite. It is wonderful for
relieving tension caused by anger and anxiety. It is also known to help
relieve sleeplessness.

Sit on the heels or on chair with feet flat, spine straight and
relaxed. Inhale fully through both nostrils, the mouth very soft, teeth
not touching the lips which are also kept very soft, leaving a tiny
delicate space between them.
Exhale completely while producing a humming sound like a tiny gentle
little bumble bee. Repeat 12 times

Breathing with pictures

This is really a classical breathing technique combined with
imagination. Some children may not like to think about their breath,
hearing only silence, closing their eyes and relaxing. We can help them
learn and understand by giving them a picture - anything to invite them
to become aware of the breathing cycle. Children can use their finger
or pencil to trace the outline as it helps them concentrate. They
naturally want to look, feel, touch, see and smell.

Breathing with a circle or square

Let's pretend our breathing is like a circle. We will make a circle with our
breath. Inhale and begin to draw a circle, halfway around exhale and
complete the circle. You can use a square or any shape really.

Breathing with a staircase

Begin by drawing a picture of a staircase and then add a line coming
straight down from the top stair to the ground. Inhale while climbing
the stairs with a pencil or finger; exhale down the straight line or
'lift'. Use this technique when energy is scattered. Reverse the
technique and inhale while climbing the straight line or 'lift' and
exhale down the stairs when energy is hyperactive.

The above techniques are only a guideline for you to experience and use with your students.

Many of the techniques can be used for all types of attention. Obviously children
are different and the classroom may have a mixed 'feeling' of
behaviour. What I have suggested are techniques that have worked for me
in my teaching. I feel the best way to achieve positive results is to
practise the techniques for yourself so as to feel confident in
teaching them and then have some fun and experiment with what works for
you and your students.
Teaching children these methods of Yoga and breathing can not only be
fun for you both but, more importantly, allows you to offer them a life
skill that will carry on with them long after school has finished.