Educating Young Students From The Inside Out

Educating Preschool students from the "Inside Out"
Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts

Friday, November 29, 2013

In Gratitude

We celebrate "gratitude" everyday during our morning circle time in our classroom at the 
I would like to extend my gratitude for my spiritual family and all the beautiful friendships throughout the world, that I have come to know through reading my blog. 
May this day be filled with deep peace as we inwardly thank the one giver behind all our gifts.  

With deepest love during this holiday season,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Peace gave us the seasons

Pictures taken by: Patricia de Anguera 
The fall leaves for most of us are now just a passing memory for this season.
 Each fall brings such a beauty as every tree, branch, and bush displays its own 
unique luminosity.
Every morning on my drive to work, I watched the world change right before me. 
 Around every corner was yet, another tree, of brilliant radiance.

This fall had so many magical moments with my classroom too. The children really opened up to the world of fall and all its beauty. I received comments from my parents about their daily outings with the children and how we were all experiencing this season of beauty together. 

   The thought kept murmuring in my mind;"Surely,the light today in this tree has to be more beautiful than the one I saw yesterday? "

Fall has to be my favorite season of the year?"

The colors are so beautiful. This fall has filled my heart with such deep love, gratitude and with a humble heart I can surrender more easily to that greater power of spirit all around us. 

Or then again, is it winter with the sparkling snow or maybe springtime with the delicate cherry blossoms falling like a delicate floral snow showers. Is this my favorite season?
As I chuckle I can recall so vividly this past summer photo a day project, with large warm beds of lavender aroma that filled my soul to the core?" I just cant make up my mind which season I like the best. . 
I have had the thought that all this beauty is from an astral memory. You may begin to ask, what is an astral memory? "The astral universe, made of various subtle vibrations of light and color, is hundreds of times larger than the material cosmos."
What type of a memory can linger so long in our hearts? What type of memory 
opens up all our senses by looking at these astral colors of leaves? This is beginning to feel like a heavenly memory that can touch us so deeply and we can experience it at any moment during our day.

Several days after meditation, I pondered all these thoughts while having a  
daily shower of beauty opening up every part of my being. 

I am not sure I will ever really know from my rational mind. But I can reveal in sharing 
this deep inner love with my students and all whom I come in contact with. It comes from 
a deeper sense of knowing something that is beyond myself. The deepest longing 
of the soul is to feel that spirit everywhere. 

In my classroom this month,  I have been teaching one of the original 
One of the little boys in our class was outside under the large maple trees. 
He gently, looked up to the sky, the meadow, and began to chant:"I get it now,"as if 
light-bulb, went off in his mind. 
"God is everywhere. Everywhere you look." How profound this statement
for a four year old. How long did it take all of us to realize this?
I know for me, it took a very long time. 

I leave you with that thought of inspiration and I hope that 
your experience of Divine Mothers presence this fall was as angelic as
ours was in the Pacific Northwest. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

What can a yoga class look like for children and how can it benefit my child?

  What can a yoga class look like for children and how can it benefit my child?

I have been teaching Ananda Yoga to children since 2002, when I received my first training from Ananda Yoga. This was also the first year of the Living Wisdom Preschool which is now the Living Wisdom School of Seattle. Just as the school has evolved with over 50 students my yoga classes have also evolved over the years. I am now teaching 4 classes a week during the school year to about 40 students. The ages I mostly teach are ages 3-8. 

Now often I get many puzzled looks about how I can teach a 3 year old yoga but I have found teaching to the young child can be uplifting, joyful, creative, and entertaining. I believe in teaching children's yoga it is all about moving, centering, listening and creating a deeper state of calmness that a child can tune into on their own. 

So what is Ananda Yoga and how does this differ from other types of yoga techniques?

Many hatha yoga traditions are generally known for toning and stretching the muscles, building strength and flexibility. It also promotes cardiovascular health and emotional well-being and providing stress relief. Yoga also stimulates and invigorates internal organs and thus encouraging the body to heal itself and one that really helps our children is it improves concentrations and focus while increasing mental clarity. 

But Ananda Yoga also provides our children about body control and breath without force, and a gentle ease of,well being connectedness, vitality and inner joy that can help children in their daily routines. Ananda Yoga helps us tune into our bodies opening up the energy channels, that awakens the subtle life force. We learn how to move the energy inward, feel and then move it upward. The children learn the subtle ways to tense, relax, and feel their energy. 
Ananda Yoga also uses subtle affirmations with each asana. The children can memorize these and use them in their daily lives when faced with different circumstances. 

" With calm faith, I open to thy light" 
"Through mightiest storms I stand serene"

A typical yoga class can last for about 40 minutes. I begin with the flow learning. Flowing Learning created by the Sharing Nature Foundation is a simple, and natural framework that can sequence activities and teaches in a systematic way.  "Awakening Enthusiasm" Each class begins with a bell, and I say:

Now in deep faith and gratitude we come to the practice of yoga . 

 We continue with  a song, or a story with our warm up poses. This changes depending on who I may be teaching at any specific time.
After I have matched my energy to all the children, then we begin our day.
These are story cards that we may in . Each child selects a card and we carefully weave our asanas and story through the daily class.
I like to start out with easier asanas first to " Focus Attention".
In Ananda Yoga we do all the starting asanas standing up first. These asanas awaken the body and awaken the energy channels and flow in the body.

I often teach asanas each week the exact same way,and build on their strength and I tune into the asanas that are their favorites. I have found the ages beginning at age 4 the children really need to build core, upper body and upper leg strength. This helps them in all areas of their physical lives. I have found yoga strengthens their bodies to make them stronger runners for soccer, stronger upper body strength for swimming and leg strength for body awareness and control of their upper torso.

The next stage of our yoga class is "Direct Experience." These are the times of deep concentration. This can happen during our "deep relaxation" visualization journey that the children go on, a short meditation we practice together  or  a song that I sing while ringing our ending bell:  "I am rocking until I get real still "segment of our class."This is ultimate climax to the class and the ultimate joy of experiencing the deeper aspects of yoga together.

All of this is done with familiarity from week to week can be  with games, stories, puppets, story cards and songs.
I have many tricks in my magic basket from 12 years of teaching yoga,  that I share. All the  classes build on one and other/ It keeps things actively calm and calmly active.

At the very end of class I offer our" Shared Inspiration" segment of the class. This is when I pull out an muti-faceted glowing egg. We all pass our egg around as we share together the quality of the color that that the egg is releasing for us. As they hold the egg, it turns spiritual colors. The colors represent, love, wisdom, calmness, truth, healing and kindness. They love to hold the egg and share their quality their families after class .
Ananda Yoga allows the children to expand their realities outside of the classroom and share those qualities in other situations and events.

Above all of the techniques and rituals of any yoga class, it is my deepest devotion to share yoga with children. I am humbled and honored.

As we say at the end of our class:
I bow to the soul in you,
I bow to the soul in me
and together we are one.

Many Blessings,

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Environment is stronger than will. Beauty in the Living Wisdom Classroom.

 The summer is slowly ending, but I can say the life of a teacher is always in clear focus.

 The past three weeks, I have been changing my classroom at the Living Wisdom School and creating my yearly curriculum. There are a few new changes in our environment.  Every item needs to be cleaned, and moved to create an uplifting foundation for the new students that arrive on Wednesday.  Some how it feels like I have been going at "turtle " pace though. I like to spend quality time in my classroom meditating, singing and actually creating some new art. This year some new felt pieces and art will be added into the classroom.

The environment is the third teacher and helps to uplift the spirit of the child. I like to prepare my classroom with soothing harmonious colors, materials and fabrics. This year especially I am focusing on beauty and calmness. Mentally I place each item in a certain location that can uplift and spark inner love, creativity, and beauty for the young child.

 I believe that children don't need a lot of unnecessary materials that clutter their environments and spaces. The materials I use are also natural woods with the elimination of  unnecessary plastic in the space. I also create all my own visuals. I don't buy teacher materials to put up all over the walls. The art on the walls, are there to stimulate children's creativity and instill the qualities that everyone can be an artist. We all have creativity deep within our beings. If I am teaching an aspect I will add my own visuals. These are just my own personal views and are very subtle to the spiritual child.

I begin imagining children playing in a certain location before the first day of school. What area will have the most children playing? What is the flow in the classroom? Are their areas that a child can play alone or with others? Are their areas for drawing, reading, and block play? Are there dark spaces? Is the lighting soft? Is every corner uplifting without clutter? Are the counters clean? Are there plenty of baskets for natural material: rocks, drift wood, and shells? Does the classroom flow with ease? Is there a space for all the materials?

I also place an importance in meeting my students before school starts. I like to bond a little with them and make them at ease with the new transition of entering the Living Wisdom School.

This past week, I added a whole new cooking area for our room and painted this picture that hangs in our reading area.  We are doing more cooking this year, so the children will be practicing along side of me while we prepare: soups, breads, muffins, fresh organic juices, and moon biscuits of course.

In the  pre-kindergarten classroom I use uplifting but soothing colors. The classroom is a nurturing space for a young child. For many children this is one of the first places away from their home. My classroom provides the bridge into a more traditional classroom. I use soft lighting, plants, flowers, crystals, and soothing colors.
This is our angel ring over their heads. 

Our classroom mural of the moon. 

I will end with a thought that a wise man said:

"No matter what work I am called upon to perform, I know there is a way to bring beauty and inspiration into it. May I always be alive to beauty and creative inspiration."

Many Blessings,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stepping into the light

I have just recently returned from my annual silent retreat that I take each summer. A great Indian saint said: "Seclusion is the price of greatness."  So it is with this spirit I packed up all my belongings, left my natural surroundings, and began to quiet the murmur of my soul.  

My days were spent in meditation, yoga, chanting, spiritual journaling, praying for my loved ones, reading spiritual literature, and for the first time in many years, I'm rekindling my practice of drawing and painting. 

This year was a beautiful time of solitude. I bundled up all my camping gear and headed to a nearby lavender farm.  My heart really wanted to be close to the trees. 

I spent six nights in a small tent underneath large cedar and pine trees. I awoke each morning to nearby forest birds singing a boisterous symphony chorus of various songs. Their methodical melodies joyfully awoke my senses. Each sound was in continuous harmony, gently reminding me that I was Only a visitor to their natural setting.   

 During the school year, I like to teach my students about becoming a part nature's existence. I found it deeply inspiring this year to become so still in nature. So this was a profound journey into the heart of nature each day.  

Now, I am back home into my natural rhythm of daily life in the Ananda Community with a harmonious spiritual family and deep soul friendships. 

 Re-entry from not talking for 6 days can be a little challenging at first. You just want to hold onto the inner silence and peace for as long as you can. 

Next year my goal is try and take two weeks of seclusion. The main point in taking a seclusion though is to draw in the deep inspirations of God's infinite light and his daily presence. 

I have found each summer day upon my return refreshing, and my energy is recharged. 

I would like to leave you with some lovely photos I took during my seclusion and inspire your thoughts of experimenting and trying to take a seclusion for yourself.

The light beckons all of us a home to his guiding presence.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A time to stop and smell the flowers

As the year ends for classroom teachers, the first couple of weeks are almost a daunting task to actually tell the body to slow way down. How do we do that? How can we actually just be? The school year is divided up into so many single tasks that seem to roll out like a long carpet, that never stops. I like to visualize a palace with the carpet of our tasks filling up the whole castle. The children are the princes and princesses. We are there to serve their needs as best we can.

But now the summer is for us to replenish our mind, body and souls.

I have over the years really loved and cherished the summertime.

 It is a time for me to remind myself that I am to slow down my mind from chattering, planning, and become one with the spiritual energy all around me. I begin to notice nature more profoundly, the birds, the warmth of the sun, and of course lets not forget the flowers. As I slow down I am inwardly more creative. I listen to the whispers of my soul more profoundly and the inner lessons that I am to receive.

I begin to look at my body temple. How can I replenish it as well? How well am I eating, sleeping, and exercising. I am I drinking enough water? I take the time to juice daily and eat organic foods that are grown right outside my door.
The summer also provides me with many opportunities to cook
 for my husband and try out new combinations of ingredients.

I also dive deep in my spiritual life, to journal, chant, and reading spiritual books that I haven't had the opportunity to read deeply through the school year.

  I also find more time to serve others in my family and community.

This next week I will be taking my annual meditation seclusion. It is a time of complete silence. I will not have emails to answer, phones,or internet connections. It is a time to dive deep into the spirit and to replenish my soul for the year that will unfold in the fall.

I am so grateful for this time to slow down and stop and smell the flowers.

In joyful expectancy......
May we all find solace in this season of warmth and inner joy.

Many Blessings,


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nature's infinite path

I have just returned from a trip to Nevada City, California at Ananda Village. The drive is just about 2 hours outside of Sacramento. Ananda Village is the home to the Expanding Light Yoga and Meditation Retreat. Ananda Village is one of our sister communities from where I live in Lynnwood, Washington. It was the first of the Ananda spiritual communities and was founded in 1968 by Swami Kriyananda. The community is situated on 850 acres of private land including meadows, forest lands,and valleys in the Sierra Mountains. Over 250 adults and children live harmoniously on this land.

I had the extreme fortune to be invited this year, to attend the "Sharing Nature with Children®
New healing activity: Forest Bathing
"Sky and Earth That Touched Me" Joseph Cornell
We spent five days with other participants from various backgrounds that spanned the globe. Many of us came together for the purpose of expanding our consciousness, while sharing our depth of connection in nature. I had to set my camera aside this week and became fully immersed in the vibration of the trees, forests and all life. It was a deeply rich and profound time for me. The pictures in this post are from: Barbara Bingham and Sara M.Skinner Photography. 

The reasons for my attending this training is to expand my work with children globally in the early childhood field, but to also listen to the inner guidance and resonance of my soul.

I love the two fold mirror that our soul reflects while in nature. 
"Silent Sharing Nature Walk"
Sharing Nature with Children®
@Dawn Publications 1998
"Silent Nature Sharing Walk on Lotus Lake"

How we can take nature's serenity inwardly and find it's peace consciously in any given moment but also how can we become a witness to our thoughts as this benign beauty unfolds as a spiritual communion before us? In nature, we feel a spirit of community with all life.

We gain a more positive state of mind as it guides us upward towards a deeper state of inner joy.

 During the workshop we were able to work directly with Joseph Cornell on two consecutive mornings, lunches, and during a celebratory banquet. He is currently writing his next book: "The Sky and Earth that Touched Me" and his "Sharing Nature Wellness Program." These will be published in 2014. We were able to sample the new activities.

Now as they say, after attending a workshop or training; the real work begins. How can I easily and effortlessly apply all that I have absorbed?What is my next step?

I'm convinced that I will be guided spiritually, as nature's path unfolds before me.

My first step on the ridge. 

  " Unendingly magnificent is Nature; yet we view only one of her billions of planets. Her splendor is spread across endless space and manifested on countless worlds;but for us, Her most wondrous gifts remains Her willingness to teach us about ourselves. And when we learn to see and understand ourselves and the world around us, we humans become the pinnacle of Nature's accomplishments; for through man, Nature is able to view and appreciate herself in the fullest, most vividly aware way of all.
      Quote: Sharing Nature with Children®, Joseph Cornell.