Yesterday I visited the library in Guildford and came home with several books on Buddhism to deepen my understanding. One was about Mandala meditations, so this morning I gave it a go. After 10 minutes of eye watering and double vision I decided to revert to my usual practice but I will perservere.
After this I dipped into another book called 'Dharma Moments' by Danai Chanchaochai and I am typing this part up to reinforce it in my mind, please let me know if it resonates with you -
'Another way Buddhism can be helpful in everyday life is the way it helps us create a sense of perspective. The belief for instance that there is no 'self' helps put things into perspective or significance in the greater scheme of things. It helps us to realise that this world, and whatever is beyond, can get on very well with or without us - that we are in fact, such little things when the stars come out. And knowing this certainly puts things into perspective, reminding us that we really don't need to take ourselves or life in general too seriously. There is infact a good reason for that big Buddhist smile.
One of the basic human challenges is learning to let go. Here again Buddhism comes to the rescue. Almost daily, in some way or another, we are called on to let go. To let go of our children as they mature, of spells of anger, of resentment and hurt. We are called on to let go of our own self-identify as we evolve and move through the stages of life. We have to let go of memories, both good and bad, and accept that change and impermanence are part of our lives.
Buddhism also reminds us that the opposite of letting go - craving, grasping, clinging - leads inevitably to disappointment and unhappiness. Even when what we desire is a good thing - such as love, for instance - we must accept that it won't last forever, unchanged, contrary to the words of many popular songs.
But perhaps the most important thing that Buddhism can teach us is the art of living according to the Middle Path, of living life to the full without attachment, seizing each moment, keeping in step with its eternal rhythm.
This, after all is how the Buddha himself lived. After he attained Enlightenment he remained fully engaged with his community, his neighbours, his followers and the world around him.
But he was attached to none of it, not even to life itself. This is the secret of living a Buddhist life.
Cultivating awareness of mindfulness, through Vipassana meditation is without doubt one of the most effective ways of mastering that secret. It's effective because by applying ourselves conscientiously and diligently to its practice, meditation will help us let go.'
A Vipassana meditation retreat is on my list as I've met people who have experienced them, but I'm too scared right now.
Last night my son came downstairs announcing he couldn't get to sleep. and that he was going into the other room to do some yoga and sit ups.
He often finds it quite a challenge to switch off at night, no amount of quiet bedtime routine, computer down time, soothing aromatherapy baths, reading or drawing help, cuddling up to him often triggers lengthy discussions about the theory of evolution, the elements of the periodic table and the history of the world.
Whilst we do yoga together it is when he is in the mood, I don't force it on him/them so it was great to see him leading this decision and he did go straight up to bed and sleep after.
It's prompted me to look into bedtime yoga poses - calming ones such as gentle twists, inversions, forward bends and restorative poses feature highly. Incorporating these poses into a shared made up story would be creative and 'connecting'. However even just one simple pose and some relaxing breaths can be enough of a bridge to sleep. There are some ideas below.
Model also staying calm and breathing in and out through your nose, if you gently exhale longer than you inhale then this induces a relaxed state, so do a breathe that suits you both. You could try staying in a pose and breathing in for a count of 3 and gently out for 6 a few times.
Saying affirmations may also bring some bedtime calm, for example -
I am calm
I sleep soundly
I am balanced
I am peaceful etc
If you or your children have any other bedtime ideas to share, please do send them to me and I'll add them to the blog or slide show below - firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. Thanks x
I bought a new scarf and earrings today, I already have about 25 but they are so last week. I am reading about Buddhism and thought about what is it that makes me buy more, can a girl ever have enough?
There are four noble truths to Buddhism and I think this webpage sums them up well -
What is the Second Noble truth?
The Second Noble Truth is that all suffering is caused by craving. When we look at psychological suffering, it is easy to see how it is caused by craving. When we want something but are unable to get it, we feel frustrated. When we expect someone to live up to our expectation and they do not, we feel let down and disappointed. When we want others to like us and they don't, we feel hurt. Even when we want something and are able to get it, this does not often lead to happiness either because it is not long before we feel bored with that thing, lose interest in it and commence to want something else. Put simply, the Second Noble Truth says that getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want, try to modify your wanting. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness.
It is a lovely scarf though.
During a recent yoga session an 8 year old boy found it hard to settle during the relaxation at the end. At one point, I asked him to lie still, breathe, relax, be more 'yogic', stop making noises, laughing and distracting the others.
Upon reflection, I realised that he was the better teacher at this point than me and this was the end of week 'silly' stress release he needed and not my oms and quiet time.
I've looked more into 'laughter yoga', and have so far found these benefits -
I'll be incorporating these ideas and more into my sessions -
- laughter cream
- hot soup laughter
-crying with laughter
I don't think the kids will need much encouragement.
HO HO HO, HA HA HA (clap)
If you can think of more benefits and ideas then please do comment, love to hear from you.
Teaching yoga during the school day is often a well received break both for the kids and me, it might be a 2 minute heads down meditation, a 5 minute stretch or 10 minute activity with a partner but it creates that space, break and downtime they so often need in an often overstimulating day where they simply haven't stopped.
Yoga outside the classroom is quite different and less structured as I'm discovering and needs to be approached in an entirely different way. When you have a lovely bunch of characters aged 22 months up to 4 years you do have to go with the flow. I also believe that children have a lot to teach us. This morning, they taught me to be more playful, not to take myself seriously, to connect with the moment and have a plan B.
It's good to have a theme and weave it across the lesson but also to have lots of other ideas to pull out the bag.
For more yoga fun with your child check out cosmic kids on youtube.
Our children and our own energy can be scattered out all around us. This is a good exercise to do when you/they are feeling 'busy'
Standing on tiptoes, breathe in deep and reach up high with your hands to gather it in, like catching leaves falling to the ground.
As you breathe out bring all your energy down into your body and heart to the prayer position, anjali mudra.
Repeat several times.
Tell your children they have the power to create many things in their life when they are focused.
During a YogaRascal class I will use a story as part of the session. The first story I introduce is dedicated to welcoming each child to the lesson and to helping him or her become familiar with yoga, yoga poses, class and story structure. We use affirmations throughout the story and the children always get a chance to add their own creativity and poses to the story in order to take more ownership and to feel more empowered.
The first story they hear is entitled 'The Warrior's Journey' which I've adapted from Sydney Solis' wonderful yoga book -
'You are the hero of your own story, Warrior I, varabhadrasana I. Take a pose both sides. You have a big heart and are kind!
Your are going on a journey, "I believe in myself, I will succeed!"
Walking on the journey, you go this way - triangle pose, trikonasana - and that way, repeat triangle pose other side. You go up a hill - side angle pose, parshvakonasana - and down a hill - parshvakonasana - opposite side, arm comes down. Repeat sides.
You cross a bridge.... to be continued.
We are what we think.
The more we use positive affirmations to counter negative thinking the healthier we will be as adults and children.
At YogaRascals we often use positive affirmations and mantras during class. Mantras protect the mind from negative thinking and help to develop focus and concentration. When you have a negative thought see if you can replace it with a positive one. The more you do this the more natural it becomes.
When in a yoga pose such as 'Tadasana', Mountain Pose, I encourage the children to repeat -
"I am strong"
"I am steady"
"I am powerful!"
"I believe in myself"
When in hero pose -
"I can do it"
"I love myself"
Children can use these affirmations throughout the day, some children like to write them down as well in a notebook.
Children are also encouraged to develop their own.
You can adapt these for yourself and your child(ren) and even create some, perfect opportunity to get out the sharpies, glue and collage materials. See also Lisa's amazing cards below which the children love to pick at the start of class. My own children pick them before they start school.
For a list of my classes and workshops visit www.meetup.com/Random-Dialogues/
and for more affirmation ideas -
Yoga for Children 3 to 11
Sessions will be 30 to 60 minutes and can be booked to be taught here, at your home, school, nursery or club.
Classes make ideal After School Clubs, Workshop Days/ end of term treats, Birthday Parties, Play-dates….the possibilities and benefits are endless. Let me know and we can make a plan!
I teach a fun approach to yoga that incorporates all the elements of Hatha Yoga in a form that appeals to children. I incoporate the Yoga Bananas Technique into my classes.
My sessions aim to empower children and offer them an insight into the power of self-motivation, self-care and self-knowledge.
The exercises promote in children a healthy awareness of the body and the mind that will be instilled within their lives for many years to come.
Please call me on 07768 392686 to arrange a time.
Teach yourself and your children to be a 'thought gardener' in your lives by watching your own thinking.
Every time they may say 'I'm stupid, ugly, worried, afraid' have them note how it feels. Teach them to switch their thinking to 'I am beautiful, smart, confident etc.
Encourage them to always be the gardener watching their thoughts and model how you do this too.x
adapted from Storytime Yoga by Sydney Solis