by Beth Reese, PhD, E-RYT, RCYT, YACEP
During one of our online trainings last year with faculty from City Year in Chicago and Philadelphia, we taught a yoga-off-the-mat tool we call “Hand Hat.” Here youth breathe in reaching arms up, and breathe out as they clasp hands together resting hands on top of their head. It has the person look sort of like they are chilling after a competitive yet friendly basketball game. What is also happening is that there is a pressure point on top of the head that, when pressure is applied, creates a ripple effect of calm and groundedness in the body. Moreover, to paraphrase educator Dr. Maria Montessori, when the student’s mind and hands are occupied there is the opportunity for greatest success. Toward that end, Hand Hat offers acupressure for physical calmness and a shift in physical and cognitive awareness that the hands are now engaged. This can create a pause to empower the person to consider a thoughtful response rather than a habitual reaction.
Late that afternoon one of the City Year trainees called me to share what seemed like a miracle to him: a student and principal were engaged in a conversation that was getting heated. “The student was so close to exploding physically,” he shared.
The teacher continued, “and then all I could hear was you whispering ‘hand hat… try hand hat’… so I did! And within minutes the energy in the room went from on the verge of a fist fight to sitting and calmly talking.”
It is stories like these that keep me and my team creating, implementing, evaluating, and revising. For over ten years Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® has offered classes, trainings, and bilingual, award-winning resources for kids, parents, families, teachers, schools, and others who work with children, and a business licensee program to support others who want to create a similar and sustainable business. The resources include cards with images of real kids and directions in English and Spanish, activity books, music and posters that are perfect for classrooms and homes, DVDs, and an online resource site with everything from family-friendly recipes to interdisciplinary lesson plans—Harry Potter books through yoga are some of my favorites—to integrating mindfulness and yoga in chairs at school while test-taking and traveling during family vacations.
This Spring we launch new programs. Our podcast, The OHMazing® Way, brings mindfulness and yoga on and off the mat to teachers, parents and families. It features conversations with me and various experts including my daughter, heads of schools, urban educators, nutritional detectives, special education professionals, and more. In early May we offer a new course, Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids, Parents, and Teachers, as a result of feedback from participants who want to dive more deeply into these areas (you can register here). We also have pondered offering online trainings for years, and we continue to explore that, too.
Thank YOU for being part of the journey!