In the classes this week, we explored ujjayi breathing. In a children’s class, I refer to it as ocean breath. We close our ears when practising ujjayi and so it sounds just like the waves of the ocean! Calming, rhythmic, soothing.
Ujjayi breathing is a technique that helps calm the mind. When practicing ujjayi, you completely fill your lungs, while slightly contracting your throat when you breathe out through your nose. You should hear a gentle sound just like the sounds of the waves of the ocean as you breathe out. This is a very useful breathing technique for children to use if they find themselves in a noisy, over-stimulating environment. It can help to drown out external sounds and is effective in calming the sensory system and the mind. It helps a child (or adult) to take a mindful moment and find their own calm within.
In keeping with the ocean theme, we practised a fun beach-themed yoga sequence (inspired by one of the past teacher trainees – thanks Cindy!). We started off in mountain pose, anchoring ourselves in the present moment. I asked the children to breathe in deeply and imagine the wonderful salty smell of the sea. We also imagined the sound of the waves and the sea gulls and noticed how the sand felt under our toes. It was a mini guided visualisation while standing in mountain pose. 😊
From there we had fun with different yoga moves pretending to be shark spotter flags, surfboards, boats, sharks, fish, dolphins, oysters, pearls and more. In the older group, the children started adding in their own additions such as a sea snake (Cobra Pose). We were all totally immersed in the underwater adventure!
After the mindful movement, the younger class had some fun with a mindful art exercise. The beauty is in the process, not the end result. So, there is no glue; no permanence. There is nothing to take home except the experience. The children get to create and then undo. It is difficult for some children because the attachment is great, but it is an important and worthwhile exercise in enjoying the present moment and the experience of it.
In the older classes, the children carried on with their mosaic pictures. The time seems to fly by so quickly when they work on these pictures and they become fully absorbed. I have been asked pleeeeeeeeeeease can they have one lesson where they just work on their pictures so they seem to be enjoying making them! 😊
I leave you with the following quote this week from Rilke to inspire you to try ujjayi breathing:
“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.”