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,


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Yoga Sparks Efficiency

Warning: This blog post contains no solutions. This post is more of a gentle reminder to my ego :)

I am feeling rushed.  Most years, one of the first concepts I teach the grade one students is efficiency because it results in transitions going faster. I thought I was teaching them what efficiency looks like and sounds like.  I thought I was teaching them what being efficient means but now I'm having second thoughts. I have been focusing only on the time aspect of efficiency and  I am slowly, not very efficiently, realizing that You Can't Rush Efficiency, (thank you Melissa), yet I constantly find myself asking kids to hurry.  (I'm pretty sure I already mentioned this a few posts ago, like I said, not very efficient right now).

In yoga a lot of things are about efficiency.
- Stack my knee on top of my ankle so that my quad doesn't die (as quickly).
- Mindful movements on my mat equal no wasted energy.
- Moving with my breath moves my body.
None of these are about going fast, hmmmm...

The more I hurry students the more things go "wrong", the more time it takes to fix the "wrongs," the less time I have to teach.
Which leads me to something that Shirley Chief Moon told me my first year of teaching grade one, (but had forgotten and now remembered).

Slow is fast, fast is slow.
Slow down Ames! Things will start to flow.

How has yoga made you more efficient?  What has yoga sparked for you?  Let me know and if posting here isn't working, please email me: I am in need of inspirational efficiency stories :)

with efficient love,

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Yoga Sparks The Total and Complete You!

I was writing a lesson plan for my final teaching practicum when I wrote something that unexpectedly made me spark inside.  The lesson I was writing is based around a book And Here’s to You! By David Elliott.  The book begins with celebrating different animals and ends with celebrating you. The last page goes like this:

And here’s to you!
The You Person!

Here’s to the sweet you,
The messy and the neat you,
The funny-way-you-eat you,
The head to your feet you,
The bones and the meat you,
The total and complete you.

Oh, how I love you!
The You Person!
You Person You!

I love You!

From this I thought it would be nice for the kids to each make up their own page to a story and we could make a class book.  Well I wrote one about myself to use as an example and was surprised at the emotions that came up. 

I think it was the part that made me think of something good and something not so good about myself that got me, (The messy and the neat you), and then how it is followed by The total and complete you.  The messy parts are so important too, and without those parts this person wouldn’t be complete.  I know this was supposed to be a grade one lesson but it really ended up showing me complete love and acceptance for myself, messy bits and all.
I will post my poem below and I challenge you to make one about your self and read it to your self.  Notice what it sparks for you inside? If you want please feel free to share and post it after mine, it would be kind of neat to have a “book” of Here’s to Yous!

With so much love,

PS I’ll share the complete lesson for this book soon J

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Yoga Sparks Chaos :)

Whenever changes are made to anything, things usually get "worse" before they get "better”. For example:

·      Cleaning: Mess hidden in closet, reorganize closet, take everything out (worse), reorganize, throw out, give away and put back (better).
·      House: No walls in basement, drywall the basement, mud the walls, sand the walls, entire house gets covered in layer of dust (worse), vacuum, dust, mop, paint (better).
·      Coaching volleyball: Ball served over net in large arc, adjust the contact point on the ball when serving, ball goes into net, too far, too short (worse), practice, practice, ball whizzes over and down (better).
·      Eating: Eating no sugar for months, eating (at least) 30 wedding cupcakes over two days, trying to stop eating sugar and met with intense sugar cravings (worse), eventually... sugar cravings cease and ice cream at 1:00 in the morning with colleagues does not appeal anymore (better).

·      Classroom:  Three rules. 1. Raise your hand. 2. Keep your hands to yourself. 3. Ask permission to leave your desk. Change to one rule, Work Towards Harmony, students learning what harmony means, how it applies to their life, learning through mistakes and testing what isn't harmony (classroom behaviours get worse), well this one is still unfolding...

What I'm trying to say is that there are many things in my life that I can see that there is a period of adjustment.  There is a period where things might be uncomfortable for a bit but I trust that because of the changes being made, because of the effort being put in, in the long run things will most definitely get better.  So why then does it surprise me so much when this happens in my classroom? It seems so much more uncomfortable to make these changes in my classroom.

I changed the rule in my classroom because what I had been doing wasn't lining up with what I felt to be true anymore. In changing the rules I was allowing harmony within myself. In changing the rules I am challenging myself to align what I believe will bring the world to a more peaceful state, with what I actually do in my classroom.

I find myself thinking, "Is what I am doing bringing harmony to this classroom?" and if I'm honest, sometimes I am definitely not bringing harmony. When I don't have set rules to fall back on it takes more conversations, more time, more thinking on my part and the students' part in order to see if what we're doing is creating harmony.  Teaching and learning harmony for all involved.  Which leads me to, it's going to get worse before it gets better.  It's going to get chaotic before it gets harmonious. But I am choosing to trust that this will happen, things will get better and not only better but I am trusting that things are going to get exponentially better because you can't go wrong when you're working towards harmony. In the end we will have a group of people that can choose to listen because they realize the value of listening rather than just putting up their hand to follow a rule. 

It's through embracing this chaos that our classroom will be led into harmony.  Yoga sparks the chaos that with trust will lead to harmony.  

What have you seen get worse before it got better? What chaos arises in your life from yoga? What does yoga spark in you? Let me know, I'd love to listen.

With much love,