Sunday, 10 February 2013

Yoga Sparks Spiral Inquiry

Teachers! What would it look like to not expect answers? How would we teach children differently if we didn’t expect them to have any answers?  But instead taught from a place of guidance to go deeper into questioning to find out something completely different. What would happen if you started letting students answer questions with questions instead of answers?  The questions that they didn’t know the answer to and the questions they thought they did know the answer to. 

One of my very first belief statements as a student teacher was:

Answer questions with questions, (as a starting point).

I don't think I took it far enough... Small revision:

Answer questions with questions, as a starting point and a launching point... AND teach your students to respond to their answer with questions.

One of my favourite teachers Adyashanti says,
“The true role of teachers is to question their students’ answers , not to sit around giving answers of their own. My job is to question what they think they know, as a means to deliver them back to themselves.” (Adyashanti, 99, The End of Your World).

What if we just taught from that space in the first place where the answers were the questions.  Do we have to think we know something before it is questioned? Or can we learn to respond to ANSWERS as a wall, a stale place of energy that needs to be infused with a question. Where answers are seen as not enough.

“ ”Not knowing” is something that is undervalued in our culture. Most of us are conditioned to believe that not knowing isn’t a very worthy trait.” (Adyashanti, 139, Falling Into Grace).

So what would happen if we started feeling answers like a block?  We could call answers walls and then it would be so easy to see that when you get to a wall, you need to respond with more questions, until you reach the next wall.  Answers become almost humorous when you replace them with the word wall, block or obstacle. “Put your hand up if you know the block.” Actually this does seem useful.  “Now that we know the block (answer), what else is possible?” It’s like the answers could be clear indicators of where we need to work to be more open.

How does learning and the brain change if we start to value inquiry over resolution? Uncertainty over certainty? Can we help students develop trust in their uncertainty?  Trust in their questions? Trust in their capacity to embody the limitless?

In some ways I realize that this is already happening with inquiry based learning but I think overall we're still answer oriented. If we change our orientation and point our students toward feeling successful when we come to a new question, everything changes! It lets us spiral out into an entirely new limitless direction.
I feel like this is a spark to changing a failing education system but I’m not going to put it out there like an answer or limiting belief.  So...
Yoga Sparks spiral inquiry and I challenge you to answer my questions with more questions or if you think you have an answer (block), ask another question and let it shoot off into a new direction. A spiral of inquiry.

Can you teach without asking for answers?

What would have to change in your classroom to make "not knowing" a celebration rather than a failure? How is this already happening and if it's not could this be an easy starting point for where classrooms are at right now?

What would evaluation and assessment look like if we weren’t looking for answers?

What would your lessons look like in order to teach a search for questions?

Is it possible to keep the current curriculum and teach this way?  

and of course...

What else is possible?

Let me know what you think, I’m listening!!

With light and love,

Amy Lynn

Friday, 7 September 2012

Yoga Sparks Gentle Wasps

Are you progressing toward your goals?

Three wasps have crossed my path in the past week.  This is not a metaphor, literally three wasps have very obviously appeared.  Now for those of you that know me well, you know that I love signs from the universe and I’m about to make these wasps into a big sign and a metaphor :) So of course after wasp number two I was looking up the significance of a wasp.  

Wasp number one landed on my shin and walked around for a bit. A tiny poke drew my attention to her and I reacted and swatted her away... (see Mosquito Bite post for how I feel about this...) I was a little (read very) upset that I had potentially harmed this wasp but after careful investigation by dear Natasha (love this woman!), it turns out the wasp survived. Yeah!

Wasp number two very, very randomly hovered into my living room yesterday.  She was HUGE and came out of nowhere, all windows and doors closed and there she was.  Caught her in a jar, released her and immediately looked up wasp on one of my favorite sites:
Animal Totems Dictionary

The wasp teaches that it is time of productivity and construction. Increased communication is important at this time. Are you progressing toward your goals? He teaches diligence and keeping things in order along with guiding you in building your mental, spiritual and physical dwelling. It is a time for progression with balancing the spiritual and physical. He demonstrates how to remain grounded to secure a good base for your endeavours. It time to start a new endeavor or work on an existing one.

And of course I was like, "Woah! That is so perfect for where I’m at.  Okay I need to get moving with things. Now’s the time..."

Well apparently I didn’t move fast enough.  Today, Wasp number three, I stepped out on the balcony and immediately she flies into the kitchen.  Really?! Okay I get it universe! I’m moving, I’m productive, I am progressing towards my goals, I am deeply considering what my goals are and committing to moving towards these goals every day.

This week yoga has sparked a buzzing wasp in my ear telling me that now’s the time to move, now’s the time to start up again.  I am vowing to start now while the buzz is just a gentle sound and not a sting. After a lull in motivation and a plateau of motion, my heart is ready to expand, my mind is ready to continue to be blown and my energy is ready to work.  Still not sure what this will look like exactly but I know that I am ready to hear more buzzing and opportunities will most definitely come my way. Let the to do lists and building begin! 

If a wasp came into your life, what would it’s buzz tell you?  Before it stings you, what do you need to move on? Listen carefully to your own gentle buzzing wasp and move now.

Lots of love,


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Yoga Sparks Beaving, I mean BEING!

Everyday questions going through my head: What is my purpose? Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing?  How can I share my passions? Wait, what are my passions? How can I serve others while staying true to myself?  Essentially, what is my dharma? How can I just be me?  What does being me really mean?  

Awhile back I was searching for story books and poems to theme a kids yoga class with and came across a classic poem. Over in the Meadow.  This poem blew my mind! Just like that I completely understood the concept of dharma.  In the moment that I came to the last verse of the poem, it made complete sense to me what just being me really meant.  Thank goodness for beavers.  

For anyone unfamiliar with the nursery rhyme, it’s a counting poem with ten verses each verse featuring an animal and the mother telling the baby animal how to just be themselves using an appropriate verb. Mother fish tells the little fish to swim.  Mother duck tells little duck to quack. Mother frog tell little frog to jump. And so on and so on.  All very obvious instructions, just swim and you will be a fish.  Just jump and you will be a frog.  So simple, well too simple really.  If I swim, I will not be a fish, if I jump I will not actually be a frog.  But then we get to the last verse, the mind blowing verse, (I realize I just said twice that this nursery rhyme is mind blowing, but stay with me here).  

The Beavers.  Old mother beaver and her little beavers ten.  Picture it now.  Mom beaver and ten tiny beavers staring up at mom with unblinking wide eyes asking her, “Mom? How do we be beavers?” Seriously, I’m excited just thinking about this!  She doesn’t say, “Just gnaw down trees and make dams, oh and slap your tail when you feel danger.”  No.  Being a beaver is sooo much more than that.  So what does she say?  “Just Beave.” Wha?? BEAVE? Is that even a word?  (Looking it up now...)

beave - no dictionary results

So no, it’s not actually a word. But it is a very important illustration of a concept. What the dictionary should say is, beave - the action or state of being a beaver. It’s the all encompassing verb of what being a beaver means.  It’s the beavers’ dharma! The beavers’ dharma is to BEAVE!  So now apply this to Amy.  Picture little Amy sitting in front of Old mother Ramler.  “Mom? How do I be Amy?” And she says, “Just Ame!” The Amy’s dharma is to Ame! My dharma is not to teach, not to paint, not to write, not to play, not to do yoga, not to be funny, not to floss my teeth (or not).  It’s so much more than that.  It’s to just be, and me just being me is so much more than being a teacher, than being a good friend, than being an artist.  And there really is no way to describe it but to just be. And even in those moments where life feels uncomfortable, like I don't know who I am or what my purpose is, even in those moments, that's just part of being Amy! And I'll rest in that :)

Yoga sparks me being. What does just being look like for you?  What is your personal all encompassing verb?

ame - the action or state of being Amy

Over in the meadow in the grass in the sun,
Lived an old mother Ramler and her
Little Amy one.
“Ame,” said the mother,
“I Ame,” said the one, and she
Amed all day in the grass in the sun.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Yoga Sparks Perspective

Today I finally had the courage to go back and look at what I had written for Yoga Sparks at the beginning of this past school year.  A time when I felt so connected to my purpose that when I lost that connection, a fear of never feeling connected again surfaced daily. The past year has held some of the darkest and most brilliant feelings I have ever experienced, and it is from this point that I begin again, this time without my own classroom.

As I look back at my first post Yoga Sparks Beginnings, there is a part that still makes my heart jump, expand and move in the most beautiful way.

Yoga has sparked so much in me and my corner of the universe. I truly feel that our students are searching for a new environment to express their completeness.  And it is with this feeling that I am beginning to bring my collection of skills together into a vision of a classroom that is open, caring, loving, moving, expanding and continually changing to meet each and every level of need in my classroom. August 25, 2011

The challenge for me now is to figure out what this looks like without my own classroom, without a contract within a division and for now, without a regular group of young people to create sparks with.  So, over the next few months, this blog is going to take a different angle.  An angle of exploration, searching, inquiry and investigation into how I can best serve this vision that so brilliantly makes my soul sparkle.

Ironically it is a year today that I felt the pull to start writing, and today, very spontaneously had a deep longing to start writing Yoga Sparks again. So here’s the spark, my passion for teaching is still there, my passion for inspiring others in their classrooms is still there, it just needs a new perspective, standing from a new spot and looking at it differently to allow for new possibilities to unfold.  My place in this vision might not look how I initially thought it would. Yoga Sparks this shift to look at a vision from another angle.  Is there anything in your life that you can approach from another place?  Explore an old idea with a new direction or revisit something you started and haven’t had the courage to go back to. Go back now, and let me know how it goes!

Lots of love,

Monday, 3 October 2011

Yoga Sparks Intent

"If God created everything and everyone, then who created God?"
AND " I like jello!" (Both said by Mr. Sphinx above)
Yoga is full of thought provoking contradictions.

  • Go deeper into the pose AND at the exact same time relax into the pose
  • Be completely aware AND at the exact same time do nothing
  • Inhale AND at the exact same time exhale (ha just kidding).

One contradiction that came up several times during our yoga teacher training was how do you set goals when yoga is supposed to be all about staying in the moment.  How do yoga and goal setting, lesson planning and long range planning work together?

Yoga Contradiction #948: Plan ahead AND at the exact same time stay present.

As I went to write my professional development goals this year I was faced with this paradox. Reflecting on past goals, my reasons for setting a goal has often been about controlling a situation in order to create personal growth. It seems like I need to refigure why I am writing goals in the first place. As my yoga practice develops and every day teaches me more and more about surrendering, I find my purpose for setting goals is shifting.  Shifting from wanting to feel in control to wanting to see what unfolds if I resolve to do something.

So this year as I set my professional development goals I want to set an overall intention for setting goals.  A goal for my goals.

  • I will watch what unfolds as I work towards my goals. (ha it even almost rhymes)

And here's the spark.  It's all about intent; my purpose for working towards a goal creates the space for being able to stay present with what is happening.  If my intent is only about outcome then it doesn't matter what unfolds in the moment, but if my intent is to watch, well really there's no way not to stay present.  Yoga Sparks Intent.

How has yoga shifted your intent?  How has yoga changed your goals?  What does yoga spark in you?  Let me know I'm listening,
Intent is everything, (AND nothing).

With love and a special thanks to Melissa, Peter and Sam,

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Yoga Sparks Crying

As some of you know, there is a gigantic poem that hangs in my room at all times.

Mistakes are good they help us grow,
They show us what we want to know.
So if you make a mistake don’t cry,
You’ll do better if you try.
(author unknown)

As some of you may also know, I have been crying a lot lately, it’s all good!

But this has led me to want to alter this poem a little.  There’s nothing wrong with crying.  I find myself telling kids more and more, “It’s okay if you want to cry, listen carefully for when you don’t feel like crying anymore.”  This is what I’ve been doing and I don’t know how to tell the kids anything different.

Also the line about doing better somehow seems to imply that the mistake wasn’t actually good.  But mistakes are SOOOOO good, and I say this so many times during the day, (a lot to myself).

So here’s what I’m thinking:

Mistakes are good they help us grow,
They show us what we want to know.
So if you make a mistake and cry,

You’ll feel better if you try.
You’ll feel better reaching for the sky.
You’ll feel better just like pie. Mmmm
You’ll feel better as you learn to fly.
 Listen carefully and you’ll fly.  << Favorite so far

I still don’t really like the last line, and am completely open to changing it somehow.  Please send me all of your suggestions (silly and serious) on facebook or email

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Yoga Sparks Sound

Yoga Sparks Sound

I have been struggling lately with asking kids to be quiet. Not so much with the kids that are sitting and chatting, but asking the ones that are making the no sense noises to stop making the noises.  I’m sure you can all think of a kid (or adult) you know that sits and hums to them self or sits and hums the same pattern over and over again.  I’m fairly certain my husband Andrew was one of these children and that’s why he spent most of his grade two year out in the hallway.  (He says it was because of moving trauma). He’s actually doing it over and over in the kitchen right now, maybe this time because of marriage trauma J

Anyways, my point is, the more I learn about energy, the more I’m learning that kids know exactly what they need and sometimes in order to balance their self they need to make certain noises to feel okay.  This makes it hard to teach, hard to not react and hard to stay sane throughout the day.

On my yoga mat I’m often encouraged by different teachers to groan, hum, sigh or release any sound that just feels right at any moment of practice.  In my circle of yoga friends we often practice what is called a toning circle.  One person starts a sound and everyone else follows, it flows in and out of tune and comes together and dissolves in this way that you can feel throughout your whole body.  So why not let the kids release sound in this way while also learning the sounds of the alphabet.

There are tons of links to the Alberta music curriculum as well as several in the grade one language arts curriculum.  Here’s what I did in my class.

Right now I am using this sound circle just for the special sounds, the vowel sounds.  Perfect because it really sets these sounds apart from the other sounds in the alphabet and emphasizes that vowels are important, different and special.  I give the kids some examples of how they can show the sound with short/long, legato/staccato, fast/slow or low/high.  We have only done the sound for the letter A (/a).  The first time I did it, I didn’t put any parameters on volume control, the only parameter was it had to be /a.  I found that right away that all students loved this!  However there were a few students (and myself) sensitive to noise that were overwhelmed by how loud it got.  To solve this I put a volume control on and the kids had to watch my hands, as they got bigger they could get louder but as they got closer together students could get quieter.   This worked ridiculously well and without even talking about it, students came to complete silence when my hands touched.  If you knew my class this year you might think this was a miracle J

Yoga sparks using the ‘noise’ that is inherently part of being a child and yoga sparks harnessing these sounds for learning.  Eventually, when all the vowel sounds have been taught, I hope to be able to have the students change sounds during the sound circle according to what visual letter is shown to them.  I also hope to be able to record and share this with you.  So far I have never had a group of kids remember the first vowel sound so quickly and consistently. 

How could you use a toning circle in an older grade? What does yoga spark in your classroom? If you are having troubles posting here, please email me I’d love to listen to your ideas.

With love,