Lesson Introduction & Overview
Young people begin to learn about mindfulness practice by learning and then moving through a series of yoga poses.
- Prepare young people for their yoga practice with the follow discussion questions and topics:
- Do you know what yoga is? Have you done it before? Wait for answers, allow youth to demonstrate poses if they know any, and then explain that yoga is a way to exercise your body, your breath and your mind all at the same time. There are many different types of yoga and ways to do yoga.
- Have you ever heard anyone talk about something called mindfulness? Do you know why mindfulness can be a good thing? Wait for answers and then explain that mindfulness means paying attention to and noticing what’s happening—such as things you’re seeing, hearing and feeling—without deciding if they are good or bad. Mindfulness can help you be happier and healthier. If you are being mindful, you are less likely to get really upset or sad and more likely to be calm and happy. It’s not something that’s always easy, but anyone can learn to do it.
- Explain that an important part of yoga is paying attention to your breath. Ask young people to lie down on the floor and then give the following instructions for noticing their breathing: Place your hands on your belly. Breathe in deeply through your nose and feel your belly rise. Hold for just a second while your belly is filled with air, and then slowly breathe out through your mouth. Do this five more times. Invite young people to try to continue this same breathing pattern throughout their yoga practice.
- Teach young people each of the eight yoga poses they will be doing in their practice. Do this part fairly quickly so you can get to the actual sequenced practice. It’s okay if young people don’t catch on right away and need more instruction during the sequence. Yoga is an ongoing practice and there is no exact right way to do a pose. Unless a young person is at risk of hurting themselves, if they are pretty close to the pose let them be.
- Sit on the floor with your legs crossed or in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Sit up tall and keep your back straight.
- Put the palms of your hands together at the center of your chest.
- Close your eyes and take three big sun breaths. Here’s how:
• When you breathe in deeply, raise your arms above your head in the shape of a big round sun.
• Then breathe out and bring your arms back down so that your palms are together at the center of your chest.
- The sun breath allows you to become centered and focused on your breath.
- Sit on the floor with your legs crossed or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Take hold of your outside ankle. If you are sitting on a chair, hold onto the edges of the chair by the outside of your legs, above the knees.
- Breathe in deeply as you stretch your body forward, chest and stomach out.
- Breathe out as you slump back; spine is curved, chest is caved in.
- Space float gives you a flexible spine. It keeps your back muscles relaxed and strong. It also helps you digest your food.
- Sit on the floor with your feet in front of you and your hands behind you on the floor.
- Breathe in and push your body up (like a backwards push-up).
- Make yourself into a perfectly straight line, like a shooting star, by pushing your stomach up and point your toes away from you.
- Try to hold this pose for a count of 10. (You can hold this pose longer during the sequenced practice).
- Shooting star makes your arms, legs and stomach muscles strong.
- You can also do this pose while sitting in a chair. Hold the edges of the chair and push up like the description above.
- Sit in your chair or lie down on the floor on your back.
- Begin to walk in the air. Keep your right leg straight and lift it up as you lift your left arm. Breathe in as you lift your leg and arm.
- Breathe out as your arm and leg go down.
- Then breathe in again as you lift your left leg and right arm together.
- Breathe out as your arm and leg go down.
- Switch sides and keep going. Lift your leg and stretch your arm straight up toward the sky.
- Moon walk balances the two sides of your brain and helps you think better.
- Lie on your stomach on the floor. If you are sitting in a chair, sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.
- Put your hands on the floor under your shoulders. If you are sitting in a chair, put your hands on your knees or a desk.
- Stretch your upper body up high, with your arms straight and your stomach resting on the ground. If you are sitting, lean forward slightly, push your hands against your knees or desk and push your shoulders back to look up slightly. Keep your neck straight and in line with your spine.
- Stretch your head as far up as you can and HISS! Feel the stretch in your spine.
- You are a very fierce cobra snake!
- Keep stretching and breathing in and out. Make a hissing sound when you breathe out. Continue this breathing and hissing for a minute.
- If you are on the floor, breathe in and lift your “tail” (feet) up by bending your knees. Try to bring your head and “tail” (feet) close together. Can they touch each other?
- Stand up.
- Bend forward with your arms hanging down.
- Clasp your hands together, with fingers interlocked.
- Walk around the room, bent over, and swing your trunk.
- After a minute, stretch your trunk high up into the air. Lean back and let out a big elephant sound like a horn!
Relaxed Monkey Pose
- Kneel on the floor on your knees and sit back on your heels. If you are sitting in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Lean forward and stretch your arms forward to the ground. Continue stretching as far as you can. Can you touch your forehead to the floor? If you are sitting on a chair, just reach down to the floor as far as you can.
- Stretch your arms out as far as they will go; allow your body to relax.
- Take in big monkey breaths. Feel your chest rise with each breath in and your chest relax toward the floor with each breath out. Breathe in and out at your own pace. Relax for one minute.
Sea Turtle Deep Relaxation
- Lie on the floor on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides. Or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on your desk or lap.
- The palms of your hands are facing up and resting on the floor, desk or lap.
- Close your eyes and breathe gently.
- Focus on your breath. If you have any thoughts or distractions, try to let them go and go back to focusing on your breath.
- You might need a word to focus on or a favorite place to imagine like lying or sitting on a beach. Imagine the warm sand, the hot sun and the cool breeze off the water. Your breath sounds like the waves! As you breathe in, listen! It sounds like the waves coming up to the shore. As you breathe out, imagine the waves going back out to sea. Keep breathing with the waves for another minute or two.
Move through the eight poses in a guided sequence.
At the end of Sea Turtle, give young people time to slowly sit back up. Ask each person to share with the group one thing they noticed during their yoga practice. Thank everyone for participating.
A nice practice in mindfulness is gratitude. At the end of your activity, thank young people for participating and express your appreciation for some aspect of what happened.
Continuing the Conversation
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong so that families can practice mindfulness through movement at home.