I am so excited to celebrate my one-year blogging milestone by sharing my first guest post from Lauren Payne Bunn. What makes this even more special is that Lauren was a former student of mine. My former students who become teachers hold a special place in my heart. She writes about an important topic as our students need to find healthy way to cope with various triggers of anxiety. Do not be deterred when you see the word yoga…anyone can adopt these strategies in the classroom.
To start this post, let’s all do a quick activity together. If you are seated, slide to the edge of your seat so that your back is not touching the back of the seat. Now, roll your shoulders up, back, and down. Grow long in your spine, and gently lower or close your eyes. Begin taking a long breath through your nose, filling your entire body with that fresh air. Now, slowly begin to let your breath go through your nose. Notice how your body sinks into your seat a little with that breath out. Inhale long and steady as you sit up a little taller. Exhale your breath and ground into your seat more.
Continue this steady pace of breath for several moments. (Somewhere around 10 more full breaths).
After those (hopefully) peaceful moments, slowly blink your eyes open.
Take a moment to answer the next several questions to yourself. Feel free to write your answers down:
1. How do you feel?
2. How does your mind feel?
3. How does your body feel?
4. Why do you think you feel this way?
5. How easy was it for you to take a few moments to just breathe?
6. When was the last time you did something that allowed you to focus solely on you?
No matter your profession or home life, stress occurs. Everyone gets frustrated. Everyone has bad days. That part of life is inevitable. But what can we do about that to make life a little easier? We can focus on us. We can help better ourselves. We can take five minutes a day to just sit and breathe.
Some days are harder than others, and being a teacher, I have those stressful days almost every day. My planning periods are in the middle of my day, which can be very helpful. Most days, I turn the lights off and sit quietly for a few minutes to calm my mind and body. In doing this, I feel myself begin to feel calm, lighter, and more focused. I allow my frustrations to pass by so that I do not dwell on them. In the profession of teaching, there are a lot of things we wish we could change, but sometimes we just can’t. Even though it is easier said than done, not allowing those “things” to make us feel negative and powerless is important. What we can do for our students is allow their experience in our classroom to positively guide them throughout their day. Allow them to feel safe and confident in themselves every time they step into our classroom, so they can begin spreading that positive energy to others.
Now, in thinking about our students and classrooms; if we realize how calm we feel after just taking five minutes to sit still and breathe, what can we do to help our students feel this same way?
Here are some suggestions:
1. When your students arrive and the bell rings, complete the same activity from the beginning of this post. Maybe allow them to write after the exercise, or turn to a neighbor and discuss their experience. You could also begin with class right after the exercise; the more frequently it occurs in class, the quicker you can jump right into the lesson because students will be calmer than when they first entered the room.
2. Allow students to put their head on the desk and just breathe. This allows students to focus on themselves and not those around them because their heads and eyes are down. This works very well with visualizing before a writing assignment.
3. If you notice your students are tired, ask them to stand next to their desk and just stretch. Set a timer and tell them they have three minutes to stand up. Backbends are energizing poses, so lead your students through backbends and side stretches.
Backbend instructions—Stand with your feet hips distance apart. Sweep your arms up to the ceiling. Bring your hands to touch or interlace your fingers. Pull your shoulders down from your ears. Draw your tailbone in and begin to reach your heart and gaze for the ceiling. Roll your shoulders back and keep lifting your heart. As you are ready, slowly begin to come back to standing. You can then send your arms over to the left, hips go to the right; then send your arms over to the right, hips go to the left.
**The goal of a backbend is NOT to bend your back as far as you can. The goal is to lift your heart, which will allow your back to bend. This will allow students to protect their backs during backbends.**
4. Yoga 4 Classrooms (A great website!) has a deck of cards that are helpful as well. You could start each class by drawing from the deck to see which breathing exercise or yoga pose you work on for the first few minutes of class. Some of the exercises are a little babyish, so feel free to look through the deck and pull out those cards depending on which grade you teach. (You can also purchase these here on Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Card Deck“>Amazon.)
I hope these reminders and suggestions help you as you begin preparing for testing season. If you have any further questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone is interested in coming to Hot Asana in Danville, Virginia, feel free to contact me and I will make sure a first-class free card is waiting for you for your first class!
A little about Lauren:
I teach seventh grade English in Pittsylvania County Schools, and I am a 200-hour certified yoga instructor. I also teach classes at Hot Asana Yoga Studio in Danville, Virginia. I am married to a wonderful man, and we have two adorable puppies! I grew up in Pittsylvania County and went on to obtain my education degree from Emory & Henry College. I am currently going back to school at Averett University to obtain my Administration and Supervision license.
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