Yoga is an effective exercise, connecting mind and body.
Postures and movements activate the musculoskeletal system and stimulate the nervous system.
Poses strengthen the body and engage concentration.
Practices improve physical health and encourage persistence.
CURRENT CONSIDERATIONS: Yoga works well with social distancing guidelines because the activities require little space, and teachers can mark the floor with taped boxes for personal boundaries. Students could also use individually assigned mats or bring in a towel for padding as needed and allowed. In the remote model, teachers may choose to host synchronous sessions or prerecord videos to pair demonstrations with verbal instructions. Teachers may also consider storing their videos in an accessible online menu for students to use during movement breaks or on their own time. Additionally, teachers might ask students to share pictures or upload video demonstrations of their poses using applications like FlipGrid.
Given these benefits and considerations, I created a series of visuals for teachers, parents, and students to use in the classroom or at home. In the remote model, these printed visuals are especially helpful in providing students with support during a much needed break from screen time. The Yoga for Youth series will be shared in the coming weeks on the WTN blog. For convenience, the blog’s home page will also include a new WTN Yoga for Youth menu as the catalog grows.
Each post will include a printable mini-poster. Posters incorporate illustrations and pose prompts, as well as step-by-step instructions. Students can use the image (or a portion of) as a focal point or as a mantra for silent repetition, or both. Print the cards on paper or cardstock to cut or laminate for continued usage. Text should be read aloud by an adult as students learn the pose. This is also an excellent opportunity to call upon peer mentors for fellow students.
See bottom of post for download button.
Repeated mantras are effectively positive self-talk.
Suggested script for introducing mantras:
Explain: Mantras can be a single word, a phrase, or even a song lyric. It is important to remember that how we speak to ourselves matters. When we consistently talk to ourselves with kindness and compassion, we can improve our health and wellness. Of course, the opposite is also true; when we speak to ourselves with harsh or hurtful words, this is unhealthy. The next time you catch yourself using self-talk, ask this question, “Would I say this to a friend or family member who was trying something new or feeling challenged?” If you feel like it is too mean to say to someone else, then it is too mean to say to yourself. Mantras give us a positive script to remind us of our goals, even when we might feel less than our best. They can be used before we take a test, play a sport, or try something new. Each yoga pose that we learn will also introduce a mantra for you to try. If the mantra doesn’t feel right for you, then you can make up your own or choose to focus on something else. Keep trying until you find something that works for you.
Teach and revisit the concept and benefits of mantras with students when introducing this or any other yoga pose to your students.
First, in the YfY series, I’m sharing a standing balance posture: Mountain Pose. This pose may look like much ado about nothing to the outsider. However, with proper form, it is an active pose that has many benefits.
Yoga balance asanas:
- improve balance and stability.
- enhance proprioception.
- call upon present moment awareness.
- highlight the benefits of a focal point.
- strengthen legs, ankles, and feet.
- encourage growth mindset.
- build self-confidence.
This is the starting position for many other poses. Hence the acronym: START (Strong, Tall, Aware, Ready, Thankful). Explain to students that these words represent some feelings and cues associated with this pose. Review each word in the acronym and ask students to consider how this mantra relates to the practice of Mountain Pose.
Mountain is a centering pose that can be practiced anytime without progressing to other poses. When used regularly, this alignment promotes proper posture and calm.
- Find a focal point and rest your gaze there during this yoga practice. You can use a spot on the poster or find a point elsewhere in your space. Move only your eyes (not your head) to focus on this spot. Your posture should remain tall in this pose.
- Stand with your feet together (big toes touching, and heels slightly separated). Modification: Feet can be spaced up to hip distance as needed for balance.
- Lift and wiggle your toes. Then, gently rock back and forth. Come to center and spread your weight across the bottoms of your feet. Imagine your feet are growing roots into the ground below. Pull your arches up as you grip with your toes and heels.
- Stand tall, with your neck and shoulders relaxed and in line with your body. Your ears are above your shoulders and chin is parallel to the ground.
- Rest your arms at your sides. Turn your palms to face forward and spread your fingers.
- Inhale and draw your shoulders up, then relax your shoulders on the exhale.
- Roll your shoulders back so they are in line with your sides, but without puffing out your chest.
- Gently squeeze your thighs (the big muscles on the front of your legs) and glutes (buttocks) to strengthen as you hold.
- Imagine you are a mountain, strong and steady. Hold the pose for X seconds. Continue to breathe and use your focal point. Use one or all of the words from the poster to silently repeat a mantra: STRONG, TALL, AWARE, READY, THANKFUL.
Additional Modifications: Students can stand with backs to a wall for support. There will be a natural curve which creates space between the lower back and the wall. Do not force lower back to the wall. Alignment cues remain the same with this support.
Use the button below to download the mini poster for Mountain Pose.
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