Games and Props

I really enjoy using props and games in my yoga classes, so I thought I'd list a few here that are my "go tos." In part I need a list to keep myself organized, but also because I'd love to know any games/props that others use so I can keep on adding to my repertoire! 

Props

  • Hoberman Sphere!   I've posted on this one before :)
  • Balls: I get soft, medium-sized balls to use for gratitude circles, ball-pass games, Plow relays, and to roll down the kids backs during Plank pose.
  • Drishtis: While not a specific prop, I use little balls, stickers, gemstones - sometimes even a shoe - as drihstis (focal points) for kids during poses when they really need to concentrate, like in balancing.
  • Singing bowl: I use this all the time to start class, and spend a few moments in quiet breathing.  I also use it for Mindful Listening activities.
  •  Yoga Pretzel cards: These just happen to be the set I have, but any set of yoga cards will do. I carry them in my bag all the time, to get inspiration, show kids how to do certain poses, or play games.  I recently saw a set of cards from the Samarya Center in Seattle which had doubles for all the cards so you could play Go Fish or Memory. Love that idea!
  • Books!  If you follow Wild Things Yoga, then you know my number one prop, especially for younger kids, is definitely books. I incorporate one into most classes that speaks to a yoga-related message.
  • Gratitude journals: I don't typically use these for regular classes, but I do incorporate them into longer classes or yoga camps.  I love having the kids record the things they are grateful for each day!
  • Hula hoops: Because I don't own multiple hula hoops, I mostly use these when they are easily available at a school. But I love them for cooperative group activities (i.e. linking hands and using all other body parts and partner support to get the hoop around the circle).  I also have used them to help kids get into Dancer pose.

Games 

  • Zoom, Zorch, Zsoosh: I learned this game at a mindfulness retreat this summer.  Everyone sits in a circle, fairly close to each other.  One person starts by "holding" an imaginary ball between their hands.  They can either "Zoom" (hand it) the ball to the person on either side of them, or "Zwoosh" (throw it ) the ball to anyone else in the circle. Whoever "catches" the ball, can then "Zoom" it or "Zwoosh" it to someone else. BUT the people on either side of the person with the ball can "Zorch"(holding hands up) to refuse the ball, forcing the person with the ball to find someone else.  Notes: You cannot "Zorch" (or refuse) the ball if it is "Zwooshed" to you; you can only "Zorch" it if its "Zoomed" to you. AND you cannot "Zwoosh" the ball to anyone sitting right next to you - you can only "Zoom" to them.  Super fun, but the trick is that it has to move fast!  Maybe giving a limit on how long someone can "hold" the ball, like 5 seconds, before they have to pass it….
  • Plow relays: The kids all sit in Staff position, one right behind the other.  The child at the start of the line holds a (real) ball between their feet, and rolls back to Plow pose to pass the ball to the person behind them. That person catches the ball with their feet and repeats.  You can vary this by having kids race to the back of the line after they pass the ball to keep the line going indefinitely, or you could make it a competition between groups.
  • Downward Dog tunnels: If you have the room, so fun! Have the kids all line up and then get into Downward Dog.  The kid the far end gets down on their belly and crawls through the tunnel. At the end, they pop up and get into Downward Dog, and then the next kids goes through. Again, you can make this go on indefinitely, or have a race, or just have everyone go through once….so many options.
  • Intuition: This one can take a while, so I only do it if I have extra time.  Everyone sits quietly on their mats. One child leaves the room, and a small object (I use a flat picture) is hidden under a mat, The child comes back into the room and has 2-3 guesses to use their intuition to guess where the object/picture is hiding.
  • Statues/Night at the Museum/Catch the Birdies: So many names for this game.  The teacher (or another student) turns their back, during which time the kids can go bananas on their mats. When the teacher/child turns around (or turns on the light, or rings a bell) everyone must be frozen on their mats in a yoga pose.  If you're playing competitively, anyone caught moving must sit down on their mat for either the rest of the game or just one round.  Usually, I play this with younger kids and they have so much fun that I don't feel the need to do it competitively. I have also seen this with a large group where the teacher/child walks around the room - when their back is to you, you can move but if they catch you moving, you're out.

  • Hopping Game (adapted from The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland): Kids stand in a circle facing to the side (right or left) so that they are looking at the back of the person in front of them. The yoga mats separate each child.  The teacher gives verbals prompts of "stand" "breath" "focus" and "hop." The teacher also hits a drum or bell with the word "hop." When the cue to hop is given, the kids all hop over their mats in unison. As the kids get into the routine, begin reducing the number of verbal prompts, eventually just saying "hop" or hitting the drum to cue them to hop together. You can slow speed up the time between hops as the kids get better attuned to the group's movements.

  • Beach, Shell, Ocean: I found this one on the Yoga In My School site (although I have also seen it in other places). Have the kids stand in the middle of the room or on a designated line (inside or out). When you say Beach, the kids run to one side of the room.  When you say Ocean, they run to the other side.  But when you say Shell, they must run to the middle of the room and get into a yoga pose.  The faster you go, the more fun this game is! You could also do Home, Trees, Forest or another word variation, especially if you have a theme for your class.

  • I'm Going to Yoga and I'm Going to Do….: Have the kids stand in a circle.  One person starts by saying "I'm Going to Yoga and I'm Going to Do [pose name] pose." They name their pose and the whole group does it.  The next person in line does the same thing but after doing their pose, the whole class must also remember and do the first pose. This continues in the circle, with more and more poses being added, making the challenge even harder. You could add an extra challenge by changing the kids' seats around and then doing the round-robin again having to remember each person's pose in the new order.

Thanks for super awesome kids!

For the past 10 weeks, I have been teaching an after-school yoga class for 11 1st and 2nd graders (and one Kinder). If you saw any of my notes on FB or my post about teaching yoga to super active kids, then you know that this was a class that challenged me in a way I never expected.  At times, they were the true definition of "Wild Things," which you might think would make me love them all the more.  But if I'm being really honest...for a while I felt a bit defeated with this group.  I couldn't find the right routines or behavior management techniques, and sometimes I feared that the kids were not learning to love yoga, but rather learning to dread it. Over time, I changed some of my own routines and expectations - and things got better.  Not perfect, but definitely better.

But despite the fact that the classes were going a bit better, I still struggled to connect with this group for whatever reason. Last Tuesday was our last class, and I was feeling a bit ambivalent about it. I was hoping for a great class to go out on, but I couldn't help feeling like it might be  difficult. As it happened, earlier that day, I watched a video on gratitude for my Mindfulness in Education course.  And as I was watching and listening, I suddenly realized how grateful I was to this crazy bunch of kids for teaching ME!  I learned a lot about how to work with high-energy kids in a big group setting, how to be more flexible, how to engage more with hard-to-reach kids, and how to just let go of some of my own expectations.  Once I thought about this, I got really excited about this last class!  I set an intention to walk in feeling nothing but gratitude and openness to this group, and to just let go of my own agenda a little bit more.  

What a difference it made to go into a classroom with an intention to be a grateful to a group of kids - and to keep that intention throughout.  I found that I listened to both the kids - and my own internal voice - so much more. I recognized when kids needed space or a break more than I probably had before.  I better appreciated the kids that hung back to observe or did their own thing during class. And I noticed that the kids actually seemed to be embracing and enjoying the class more than usual.  

At the end, I surprisingly realized that I was sad to see the sessions end.  Not only did I feel like I had finally built some sort of mutual foundation with the kids, I still felt like I had a lot to learn from them.  But I am forever thankful that they helped continue to show me the kind of classes I want to lead and the kind of teacher I aspire to be.

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Book Review: A Still Quiet Place

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Calling all teachers/counselors/parents who want to bring mindfulness into their classrooms, kids yoga sessions, or work with small groups and individual kids.  A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness Program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions by Dr. Amy Saltzman is a must-have for your bookshelf. This invaluable resource covers Dr. Saltzman's 8-week curriculum for teaching mindfulness to kids ranging from Kindergarten all the way up to age 18.  Most activities target the 8-18 year-old range, but modifications for younger kids are provided throughout.  

There are many things I like about the layout of A Still Quiet Place, but two in particular stand out.  One is that Dr. Saltzman begins the book with background on the benefits of practicing mindfulness with kids, and how to approach teaching and facilitating sessions.  The book then goes into the curriculum, and finally ends by rounding back to the research and qualities/qualifications for teaching mindfulness to kids. It is written in such a well-rounded, sensible way. The second thing I like is that while each chapter covers one full class lesson plan with many different activities, the activities themselves are broken down in such a way that you can choose to do all of them in one weekly class or break them down into shorter, more frequent sessions. I feel like this makes it easier to be flexible with the time you have (especially in a public school setting).

If you have your own mindfulness practice - which Dr. Saltzman highly recommends before bringing this curriculum to students - the content will be quite familiar. However, the language is so perfectly written for students of all ages.  Its doesn't use flowery language or try to over-simplify the concepts of mindfulness. Rather it provides information in fun, smart, and straightforward ways. The lesson plans provide a variety of activities so you're never spending too long on one thing, but rather honoring the natural attention spans of kids.  Home practices are also provided, as well as ideas for discussing home learning to support those who may be struggling to find time or motivation to continue with mindfulness outside of these sessions.  

Each of the eight lesson plans begin with Mindful Breathing and Mindful Eating. This creates a sense of continuity between classes, as well as provides a venue for kids to settle down and have a snack before beginning.  This is especially useful if you are leading classes after school!  The classes then vary, covering topics such as bringing kindness to your thoughts, recognizing repetitive (and potentially unhelpful) behaviors, and how to communicate with others in a mindful way.  Classes then always end with Mindful Listening, again adding to the consistency between sessions.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is already teaching mindfulness to kids/tweens/teens; those who are still learning about bringing mindfulness to this audience; and those who might just be interested in what this movement is all about.  Happy reading!

Travel Yoga (for the car, airplane, airport, etc.)

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One of the (wonderful) parents at my school suggested that I do a post on yoga poses for the car/airplane since we 1) live in an incredibly traffic-ridden city; and 2) our kids do a TON of traveling each year to/from Jakarta.  I thought this was a fantastic idea, especially because I also fly quite a bit. I always ask for an aisle seat so I can get up to practice some (contained) yoga poses in the area next to the flight attendant station.

So here goes!  Perfect timing as we head into Spring Break. Below are some ideas for yoga to do while traveling with your kids (or by yourself :)), divided into "seated" and "standing" poses.  The latter is great if you can find a space on the airplane or have a layover between flights and can find a cozy corner in the airport.  Remember to focus on the inhale/exhale as you move through each pose.  Happy practicing!

Seated poses

  • Seated Ragdoll: Start with both feet on the ground (or propped as much as possible) and hands on knees.  Move your chin to your chest, and begin to roll down over your lap. Let your hands fall to the sides of your legs.  Go as low as you can and then stay there for 2-3 breaths before rolling back up.  Roll back up the opposite way that you rolled in, with your chin/head coming up last.  Roll your shoulders back once you're upright again.  Do this 2-3 times.  You should feel a stretch in your neck and upper/mid-back.
  • Seated cow/cat:  Sit upright with hands on knees. Draw your hands back on your thighs while you push your chest forward and shoulders go back. Inhale as you do this. Now exhale while your hands slide back to your knees and your shoulders round and your chin tucks to your chest.  Alternate between these two movements 2-3 times,  A great back/shoulder stretch.
  • Side stretch (Crescent Moon): Reach your arms up overhead while remaining seated.  Keep the arms up while your inhale and then as your exhale, curve your body to one side.  Inhale to come back to center (arms still raised), and then exhale to curve to the other side.  Do this 2-3 times for a great side body stretch.
  • Gomukhasana (cow-face) arms: Just the arms, not the legs! There are two ways to do this pose: modified or full.  Start by lifting the right arm over your head and then bringing your hand (face down) just below your neck.  Your elbow should be bent and right next to your head.  Place your left hand on your elbow and gently pull back for a shoulder stretch. If this feels alright, try the full pose.  Leave your right arm where it is, and bring the left arm behind you with your hand facing out resting on your lower back. Slowly bring the left hand up your back and try to reach for right hand.  You should feel a shoulder stretch and chest opener.  Try the other side.
  • Heron (ideal if your are in business class, a roomy car, or are a child): Don't be intimidated by the picture in the link! We are doing a modified version :) Sit with the left leg curled up like in a cross-legged position or foot flat on the ground  From there, pull your right knee into your chest.  Slowly take hold of the back of your right leg, the ankle or the foot, and try to stretch your leg straight and up (as much as you can).  Don't hunch your shoulders but rather try to move them back to open up your chest. A great stretch for the chest and back of the leg. Hold for a few breaths and then switch to the other side.
  •  Hindolasana (aka Rock the Baby): Sit with the left leg curled up like in a cross-legged position or foot flat on the ground.  Hold the right foot with the both hands, knee out to the side, and then gently pull into towards the chest (maybe throw in a few ankle rolls first). Maybe this is a good enough leg/hip stretch for you!  If you want to go further, place the right foot in the crook of the left elbow, right elbow around the knee, and then link hands.  Gently pull into your chest.  Hold for a few breaths. Try the other side.
  • Seated twist: Sit with legs on the floor, propped, or in cross-legged position. Move away from the back of your seat a bit if you can.  Place the right hand on the left knee, and the left hand behind you.  Twist your upper body to the left, without moving your hips.  Breath in and try to extend your spine to sit taller, and then twist a bit more on the exhale.  Stay here for 2-3 breaths and then switch sides.

Standing poses

  • Forward fold and variation: The standard Forward Fold has you first standing in Mountain pose with a straight back, shoulders back and legs about hip-width apart. Keeping your back straight, bend at the hips until you feel a stretch in the back legs (i.e. hamstrings).  Ideally your hands are on the floor even if you have to bend your knees.  Some variations on this include; 1) open your legs out into a wider stance and bring hands between your feet as you reach your head towards the floor; 2) in narrow or wide stance clasp hands behind your back and stretch up to get a shoulder opener; or 3) cross the right foot in front of the left and a little more forward; bend forward (your right leg may bend a bit at the knee); hold for a few breaths and then switch legs.
  • Pyramid pose: Start in Mountain pose (standing tall, shoulder back, arms by your side, and legs hip-width apart). Step the right foot back a couple of feet - both feet should be facing forward (although the back toes may turn out to the side a bit) with all four corners of each foot down on the ground.  Feet shouldn't be lined up one right behind the other but rather on "train tracks" with a bit of separation between the hips. Hips should face forward. Place hands on hips and slowly bend forward over the right leg with a straight back.  Stop when you feel the stretch on the back right leg.  If you reach your hands to the floor and nose to the shin without bending the front knee, great! Otherwise, keep your hands on your hips or folded at the heart.  Hold for a few breaths and then switch sides. Terrific for the hamstrings.
  • Tree pose: A favorite for everyone!  Most people know how to get into this, so I will just say one word of warning - don't place your foot on your opposite knee! This can cause damage to the knee.  Either below or above the knee, or at the ankle is best. For adults, try to press the pinky-toe edge of the foot that is raised into the opposite leg - this will provide a bigger hip opener. Raise arms up or keep them at your hips (or folded at your heart). Hold for a few breaths and switch sides.
  • Ankle rolls: Bring right knee into chest and gently pull into your chest with your hands.  Roll your ankle a few times one way and then the other.  Switch to your left leg.
  • Eagle pose: Find a spot on the floor to focus on and bend both legs. Cross the right leg/knee overtop the left. If you can hook the right foot around the left calf, go for it! Lift the left arm in front of you, elbow bent, fingers reaching up. Circle the right arm under the left arm, trying to bring your hands to meet. Sink the hips and lift the arms while you balance on your left leg.  Stay for 2-3 breaths, and then gently untwist and switch sides.
  • Squat to forward fold:  We all know this one. Legs apart, feet flat on the ground, and toes turned out.  Bend knees until you're in a squat and push elbows into inner knees as you bring your hands folded in front of your heart.  Hip opener!  Stay for 2-3 breaths and then place hands on ground in front of you and slowly roll up to a forward fold.
  • Forward fold with a twist: Stay in your forward fold with feet either narrow or wide.  Place hands on the ground in front of you, even if knees need to be bent a bit. Place left hand in the center of the space in front of you, and lift right arm up to the right for a twist and stretch.  Stay for 2-3 breaths and then switch hands, and raise the left arm up to the left for a twist and stretch. 
  • Finish with in forward fold and a slow roll back up to standing.


Book Review: The Whole Brain Child

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The Whole-Brain Child by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson was one of those books that I read and then instantly began implementing some of the techniques with my students.  While not a yoga/mindfulness book per se, it integrates beautifully with these practices and provides easy-to-digest information about why kids act the way they do.  Specifically, The Whole-Brain Child goes into the science of kids' brains and explains how each part of the brain interacts and influences the others.  It really opened my eyes to some of my more behaviorally or attention-challenged students, and how I may not have been engaging with them in the most effective ways - especially when they are in the middle of a difficult situation.

But The Whole-Brain Child not just for parents/teachers of students who are struggling.  On top of providing excellent background on how kids' brains develop, this book also gives practical suggestions for how to deal with challenges, conflicts, anxiety or strong emotions that may arise in any child's life.  Preventative ideas and activities for helping kids manage and talk about their feelings are included throughout as well, and there's a handy "refrigerator sheet" included in the back with quick reminders for each activity.  A terrific book for both parents and teachers!

Book Review: Little Flower Yoga, A Yoga and Mindfulness Program

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I first heard about Little Flower Yoga (LFY) last year, although I couldn't tell you from where.  But this NY-based yoga program for kids really struck me as a place doing great work, and I encourage you to check out their web site for more information.  I especially love LFY's program components: Connect, Breath, Move, Focus, and Relax.  Within each area are numerous ideas and activities to support kids with mindfulness of self and others, and with the physical asanas of a yoga practice.

This book provides clear and excellent suggestions for how to bring the LFY program into your home or classroom.  The book also touches on the science behind mindfulness and yoga for kids, and explains the benefits of each activity/pose.  In addition, the book acts as a kind of "a la carte" menu of options. You can choose to do just one or two activities in a few minutes, or you can combine more than a few for a fuller practice.  On top of all that, there is a chapter dedicated to parents and developing a personal mindfulness/yoga practice, as well as more ideas sprinkled throughout each chapter.

I think the LFY book is an easy-to-read guide to successfully bringing a mindfulness/yoga practice into your home or classroom, even if you don't have an established practice yourself yet.  It encourages parents and teachers to go at your child's - and your own - pace to make sure everyone is getting the best benefits.  One of things I especially like about this book is that it reinforces the idea that while we ask kids to pay attention constantly, we rarely take the time to explain to them what that means and how to do it successfully.  LFY provides excellent suggestions for how to do just that.

Learning to be humble

This past weekend I attended a three-day yoga workshop with Sianna Sherman, a teacher I follow on Yogaglo and one who has taught many of my teachers in Portland.  When I walked into the studio on Friday afternoon, I was immediately overwhelmed and intimidated.  It was me - and about 60 very flexible, very energetic Indonesian women and a few equally strong and flexible Indonesian men.  I felt very out of my element, and when asked to partner up for the first three hours to help each other with poses, I also felt very much out of my comfort zone.  Despite knowing that my practice - without fail - improves when working in pairs, I always get a pit in my stomach when asked to partner up in a yoga room full of strangers.  Its especially anxiety-producing when my partner doesn't speak English :) I spent much of the first day's two practices feeling the "otherness" of myself as everyone around me joked and chatted in Bahasa.  Not to mention being completely in awe of most of the participants' ability to easily get into poses I struggle with regularly.  

But after that first day and moving into the second, I started to notice a shift in my thinking. Rather than have my guard up and feeling overwhelmed - and maybe even a little sorry for myself that I didn't have a friend there - I gave myself permission to just observe what was happening around me.  I saw an incredible energy and joy throughout the room.  I saw a willingness to take risks and support each other.  I witnessed a side of Indonesian culture that I don't often have in my little expat bubble. Rather than feel confused or frustrated by the constant talking and laughing in the studio, I appreciated that it represented a culture of love and socializing. I felt really honored to be a part of this "other" world.  When I walked back into the studio after lunch or on the third morning, many of the women remembered my name and went out of their way to talk to me.  I found myself in some great conversations, and laughing with and supporting the other women.  By the third day, I was thoroughly enjoying partnering with a number of the women and learning from them.  Instead of being jealous or in awe of their abilities, I was humbled by their skill and their art. Instead of keeping my guard up, I released it and observed the beauty of their closeness, laughter and friendships.

I went into this workshop thinking that it would be "just" yoga, but in reality what I got out of it was a really amazing cultural experience.  The yoga was the conduit and of course I learned a lot and was very inspired, but the end result was more openness to the world around me in Jakarta.  I felt like I was just getting warmed up when the workshop ended.  I especially appreciated this unexpected gift of cultural awareness since I'll be leaving Jakarta in just a few months. 

Mindfulness

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Last year I took a (secular) mindfulness course and began a more formal practice of sitting each day.  Little did I know the journey it would set me on.  The course was the Mindful Schools Fundamentals class and I took it as a precursor to the organization's Mindfulness Curriculum course.  I can't remember what brought me personally to mindfulness or why I feel so compelled to bring it to kids, but it has become as much a part of my life now as yoga.

 (Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the most famous teachers of the practice, defines mindfulness as "paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." I won't go further into the definition of mindfulness and the research supporting it in this post. But if you would like some more background, this is a good place to start.)

Most days I sit in practice for anywhere from 20-60 minutes which I absolutely love, despite the fact that sometimes I may only find a few minutes of that time actually spent focusing on the present moment. My mind - like so many of yours I'm sure - has an amazing capacity to wander aimlessly through my past and future without so much as a cursory stop in the present.  But the real gift has been the way that the formal practice has led to more informal practices in my everyday life as I move between meetings and kids, writing reports and planning, working out and making dinner.  The idea of mindfulness has become so ingrained in my life that without thinking I find myself practicing as I walk to see students, sit in traffic, and eat my breakfast.   Historically I have had a tendency to err on the side of anxiousness, and I am my father's daughter in my constant worries and planning about the unknown future.  But in this year of practicing mindfulness, I have noticed a shift in those sides of myself.  They aren't gone but they are diminished. I feel lighter and happier, and like I have much more effective tools for dealing with life's curveballs. 

Luckily Mindful Schools offers their courses online and I just finished the Mindfulness Curriculum course. I have started using it with my individual students but also with one of our 4th grade classrooms.  Kids just naturally have more open minds than we do and so most of them have embraced the idea of mindfulness wholeheartedly.  After the first class with the 4th graders, I asked them to just try mindful listening (the skill we learned that day) for one minute each day until we met again.  When I came back and asked how many had tried it, only a few raised their hands.  But now, just four lessons in, when I ask them how many tried mindful listening or mindful breathing, at least half the class raises their hands.  Unprompted, they tell me how they taught their mom to breath mindfully or how they used it when they were sad or trying to fall asleep.  When I tell them we are going to sit for the short time of 60 seconds or 90 seconds and focus on our breathing, they no longer groan but eagerly ask to sit for even longer.  When we finish a formal sit most of them say they could go for more. This is after just four lessons, 15 minutes each.  

I don't think I ever thought much about how my passions fit into my job until the last year or so.  The school I work at is VERY focused on teaching kids to find and pursue their passions, and as a side-effect I have focused on mine as well.  Yoga and mindfulness brings me such amazing joy, and that excitement and enthusiasm I feel for my own practices gets amplified when I bring it to kids.  I feel incredibly lucky to have so many opportunities to do so.

 (If you are interested in ideas to start your own mindfulness journey, check out my resources page).

 

Thinking in gratitude

Lately it seems like the concept of "gratitude" hs been popping up more often in my conversations.  A friend emailed me recently to say that gratitude has become her theme for the year.  This article from the Huffington Post. Another friend saying that when she practices reiki she just imagines gratitude in her body.  It got me thinking last week that each day I should find something to be grateful for - and then actually acknowledge that gratefulness rather than just letting the moment pass by.

So I did. Each day I found something to be grateful for, and acknowledged it to myself or towards another person.  And by the third day, I realized how easy it was to not just find one thing to be grateful for, but to find tons of small moments in my day that brought me joy.  None of them are big and perhaps others wouldn't find them to be gratitude-worthy.  Two beautiful elderly Indian women in saris taking a morning walk, as seen out the window of my bajai on the way to work.  Hearing 20 Kinder students enthusiastically fighting over each others' voices to share why they love school so much.  Having freshly made almond milk in my fridge when I got home from work.

But today I started to realize that this was turning into an amazing habit.  In everything that seemed to cross my mind today I could find something to be grateful for - and rather than just letting the thought go, I silently expressed my thanks for it.  For about 1.5 hours (during a really delightful reflexology session) I found myself giving gratitude constantly and without pause. Even the most bizarre thoughts.  The song Nadia's Theme (from the Young and the Restless) came on in the background, and it made me think of my sister who used to play it on the piano when we were younger.  In an instant I gave her silent gratitude for being such a great sister, and also to the universe for providing me with the memory.  These expressions of gratitude don't take more than a few seconds, but the effect they have on me lasts so much longer.  Tallied up together, I can already see how they are creating a shift towards even more happiness and awareness for me.

So that brings us to the kids.  In my yoga classes I often ask kids to put their hands on their hearts and think of someone or something to be grateful for. But I seem to only do that with my yoga kids.  Why not ask the speech-language kids that I'm working with one-on-one or in whole classes?  Why not ask every kid I work with each day to end our time together with 15 seconds of gratitude?  I feel like this is an easy and attainable goal to begin implementing this week.  If you're a teacher or a parent, you have a prime opportunity to make this a daily habit with you and your kids.  Instilling the idea of gratefulness is one of the best gifts you can give!  

I recognize that this is NOT ground-breaking information.  We have been told in countless ways over the years to express gratitude through lists and journals and boards and etc. etc.  But still - we don't always do it.  Sometimes it takes being reminded again and again before an idea clicks and you act on it.  I know that's what happened for me. And perhaps it will happen for someone else with yet again, one more reminder to be grateful for the small moments that bring you joy each day.

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