Yoga Center How to Teach Yoga for Children - Interview with Christine Curtis
How did your interest in yoga for children start?
Helping children reach their full potential, whatever their starting point, has always been one of my prime goals as a primary school head teacher.
Children with learning challenges particularly concerned me, especially those with attention deficit disorders or high anxiety. As a yoga practitioner I knew how grounding and calming yoga could be and wondered if yoga could offer similar benefits to children.
The results were almost immediate for those children. Over time, yoga and mindful activities were gradually introduced throughout the whole school and included all children.
It was one of the most popular and productive initiatives I had ever introduced into a school setting and every child benefitted in their own particular way, according to their individual needs.
Did anything in particular take you by surprise?
Yes! Absolutely! How children need to stop and just be! They look forward to it, ask for it! All of them – even the most unlikely, hyperactive children!
Why do you think yoga is so popular with children?
That’s a good question and is often not apparent. Parents say, “My child loves yoga – what is it you do in class?” I believe it is the atmosphere they appreciate rather than any activity in particular. Subconsciously they feel they are in a safe, judgement-free zone, away from expectations from parents, teachers, peers and society in general. They can experience being their true selves in a space that is free from the stresses of constantly being assessed and judged and the fear of possible failure.
This belief is supported by their typical responses when asked why they enjoy yoga:-“Yoga makes me feel calm/peaceful/free/loved/happy/relaxed…..” What more could we wish for them?
What is your joy when teaching yoga to children?
All children are perfect beings. They all have a good heart but aren’t always provided with the conditions needed for them to express this. It is lovely and truly gratifying to see children releasing tension, opening up and spontaneously showing kindness and support to each other, themselves and in general to the world around them.
My joy is bearing witness to this and having the privilege of holding the keys which unlock the world of yoga for them.
What is your advice to anyone thinking about teaching yoga to children?
It is a very different experience to teaching adults so it is important to be flexible with no pre-conceived expectations. Children are great teachers and when we can accept this with an open mind we regain that simpler, purer perspective on life which has often been misplaced as we pursue our busy, modern day, adult lives.
If you have ever, even fleetingly, thought about teaching yoga to children, then my advice is to give it a go! Children’s yoga teachers are sowing the seeds for a more positive future for all. What an amazing mission – and the way is fun, enlightening and fulfilling!
Liz's Workshop March 2014
Liz enchanted and challenged us all once more. She engaged the group with a continuous series of sequences that charmed everyone while getting them to do more than they imagined possible. At the same time Liz mesmerized the participants with her art, her music, her songs, and her inspirational quotes taken from the poets and mystics of the world and the ages.
Liz's Growing Collaboration
Liz has agreed to participate in our new Advanced Diploma course that completes the 500 hours of our Hatha Yoga Teacher Training certification. We will soon be announcing the content of her contribution to the advanced course. She will train the graduates in 'creative sequencing'.
First Advanced Course Presentation
We will be offering our new 100 hour Advanced Diploma course this summer in Aldeaduero. As soon a s we have Liz's curriculum we will include in the course description.
Liz Lark's Workshop
We had a great weekend with LIz again. She always comes ready to inspire us with her 'go for it' way of life. She brings new ways to sequence the asana practice.
We want to thank her for her creativity and integrity. We look forward to more ways to collaborate with Liz. Perhaps we will have her with us this summer. Thanks Liz. Lots of love.
Yoga Teacher Training Graduates
We are proud of our new Yoga Teacher graduates. We have just completed 3 of our Yoga Training courses. This year for the first time the 3 training programs concluded on the same weekend. Congratulations to all of you for your outstanding effort and well deserved results.
Hatha Yoga Instructor Training
Iyengar* Yoga Postgrads
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Instructors
Don't panic Meditate
If you have ever had an anxiety crisis you may find this recent article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times interesting.
As someone who treats individuals for Panic Disorder, I can highly recommend learning and practicing mindfulness meditation.
grab a pencil.
When I was in college, i read an article on Dr. James Pennebaker, psychology professor at the University of Texas, who claims that writing 20 minutes a day can improve your health. Since reading the article almost 6 years ago, I have been writing off and on as Pennebaker instructed. Writing helps clear my mind, organize my thoughts, and allows me see how I handle situations. A lot of times if we are thinking about something excessively we have the same exact thought over and over. (I call it broken record thinking). Writing about that 'something' can allow you to find a way to change your habitual, 'broken record' thoughts. It moves the mind forward constructively allowing more space for new, positive thoughts. Click here for the article.
discover your dosha.
Dosha: (dosh'ah) according to the principle of constitution of the physical body in ayurveda, one of the three vital bioenergies (vata, pitta, kapha) condensed from the five elements, the doshas are respondible for the physical and emotional tendencies in the mind and body, and along with the seven dhatus (tissues) and three malas (waste products) make up the human body. The attributes of the doshas and their specific combination within each individual help determine the individual's physical and mental characteristics, while imbalance among the doshas is the cause of disease.
Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. © 2007 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
What's your dosha? Click here to take the quiz.
"Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are."
Pick a pose and progress.
Viewing our yoga practice in a different way can extend the possibility to see more of who we are. By simply focusing on a particular posture, we can consciously and meticulously take note of our mental and physical progression. Asking questions like, "Where was I when I first did this posture?", "How has it changed for me today?", "Why has it changed?", and "Where can I take this posture next?", can all give you insight on how you process things in general. Examine everything that goes on in the body, from the breath to where you find your focus.
Welcome to the first entry of my new blog.
First, I would like to introduce myself and give you an insight of my life, thus far, involving yoga.
My name is Erin Lane, I'm 26 years old, and I grew up in the United States in a town called San Angelo (Texas). I moved to Madrid on January 1, 2011 and have nothing but great things to say about the city, the country, the people, etc. I have enjoyed exploring everything about my new home and am elated to have found such a terrific yoga community.
Growing up in San Angelo, for me, consisted mostly of getting through school and developing a discipline with dance, specifically ballet.I began practicing yoga in my living room following DVDs (Rodney Yee AM/PM yoga) as a way to gain flexibility for dance. After a few weeks of 30 minute yoga every morning, I realized there was much more to offer than stretched hamstrings and longer quadricep muscles. I saw that yoga was a discipline itself, much like ballet, and the more you practiced, the more "in tune" you could become with your body.
I continued practicing when I moved to Austin, Texas where I attended the University of Texas seeking a B.F.A. in Dance. There, i was able to take yoga outside of the living room and inside an enormous university gym. All the same, I found the energy to be different, solid, and in the moment as opposed to my still quite beneficial AM/PM home yoga routine. The energy of others that surrounded me during class was inspiring--- athletes, professors, and students alike formed a community that I felt the need to be a part of.
Continuing to follow a career in dance in various parts of the US and Mexico, I always found a way to integrate my yoga practice no matter where I was at the time. This eventually led me to yoga studios of all different styles and in turn, to my 200 hour RYS Yoga Certification. Yes, another perspective gained and still so much to learn.
My love for being a guide and sharing my knowledge of yoga has brought me to Yoga Center Madrid and now to having a blog. On this blog, I not only want to share the knowledge and perspectives I have gained through my experiences, but hope to receive a flow of yoga information from readers, along with their yoga experiences.That being said, I open this blog up for comments and a flow of communication, a conversation on anything I post.
This blog will be a reflection, a resource, and above all, a collective process.
"Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness" The Journal of Neuroscience, April 6, 2011
Mindfulness reduces the Experience of Pain
The Journal of Neuroscience has just published research which gives evidence the practice of mindfulness meditation can help to reduce the experience of pain. For centuries those practicing meditation have claimed that the nonevaluative representation of sensory events such as pain, influenced the very experience itself. The current study claims that 4 days of mindfulness meditation training reduced "pain unpleasantness by 57%" of "the noxious stimulation" and the "pain intensity ratings" were reduced by 40%. The study noted that meditation reduced the activation of the "contralateral primary somatosensory cortex" which affects one's pain related experience.
Mindfulness affects Multiple Brain Mechanisms
The effect of Meditation in pain intensity ratings were associated with greater activity in the "anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula" that influence our "cognitive regulation of nociceptive processing". The resultant reductions in the experience of pain were associated with orbitofrontal cortex activation. This area of the brain influences one's contextual evaluation of sensory events. Such reductions in pain were also associated with "thalamic deactivation, which may reflect a limbic gating mechanism" that modifies interactions with the "executive-order brain areas". All of these observation associated with the practice of mindfulness meditation, suggest that meditation affects multiple brain mechanisms that alter the subjective experience of pain.
Mindfulness Programs at 'Yoga Center' Madrid, 'Yoga Sananda' Vigo and Hotel Spa Balneario****
I would like to remind my readers that we offer regular meditation classes, meditation instructor courses, mindfulness for stress reduction courses and mindfulness based psychotherapy in our 'Yoga Center' Madrid and 'Yoga Sananda' Vigo as well as our summer intensives offered at the Hotel Spa Balneario**** in Mondariz-Balneario in August.
The New C/ Serrano
The C/ Serrano construction has finally ended and we can now enjoy walking along a very broad pedestrian avenue. It is lined with new Plane trees, interspersed with benches and includes a bicycle pathway.
The construction of the underground parking is about to finish. More than half of the underground parking is already open. Last Saturday I saw more people enjoying Serrano than in the last 12 years.
The Miracle of Christmas
The underground parking at the height of our center will open in a few weeks. It will be a comfortable feature for our students because the pedestrian entrance to the parking is right at our entrance. A small miracle of Christmas after 2 years of public works at our door step.
Questions I have spent a lifetime trying to answer
I am in the throws of choosing a topic to research for my doctorate in Psychology. i personally am interested in a number of areas. One interest regards the Oriental and Western mystical notions of elevated states of consciousness or mystical states. Such states are clearly referred to in Patanjali's Sutras and in the Cloud of Unknowing. Some Psychologists in the humanistic tradition, from William James to Maslow and more recently Robert Kegan claim that adults are capable of higher orders of consciousness. I would especially like to research the following two questions: Is there any empirical evidence for higher order consciousness besides anecdotal evidence?; is there any evidence that higher order consciousness can be taught?
Your thoughts and suggestions
First I would like to ask what your opinions are regarding my two principal questions. Have you or anyone you know exprienced higher order states or something similar. If so how did you or they do it? How doe you know that it wasn't just siggestion and wish fulfillment fantasy? I would also appreciate your comments and suggestions regarding any books, essays, journal atricles etc that you feel could help answer my 2 questions.
My recent trip to the ashram made me reflect on some of the functions of an Ashram. In India an ashram is a place of refuge, sanctuary or retreat.
My own observations during my role as ashram director for many years brought me to similar conclusions. What I observed is that many come seeking shelter from the turmoil or crisis in their life. The ashram provides a safe place to care for their emotional wounds and to take the time necessary to rebuild themselves, their new world view, their new identity - a life moratorium.
1 to 5
I found that most stay for somewhere between 1 to 5 years at most and then return to the fray. The ashram plays a principal role in their personal life renewal. A wonderful service indeed!
As I reflected upon my own experiences I realized that there was one aspect which I found missing in this healing environment - the open expression of conflicting opinions. It is a kind of groupthink. It occurs throughout our society, especially in businesses, corporations, religious communities, and many other organizations and groups. The problem is that growth is stifled. Transformation is limited. There occurs almost no thinking or being outside the box. This is what I feel is missing.
As you can see I have mixed feelings about ashrams. I guess they serve their function/purpose of giving us comfort and removing the need to reflect upon conflicting opinions. We are surrounded by one blanket of sameness. Like going home. Just what the doctor ordered - time out from the game of life.
I mentioned that I was at the Yoga Congress a couple of days ago in Germany. One of the themes that I mentioned as I introduced myself and my background interests, concerned transformative learning experience.
I have had an interest in mystical traditions since I was a teenager. Probably because of curiosity into what my ancestor Meister Eckhardt was all about. One of the common themes in Christian and Indian mysticism is tranformative development or higher stages of consciousness. The mystics claim that they have been able to experience higher levels of consciousness or what Psychologists would call higher complexity.
Psychologists since William James have been interested in the possibilities of adult transformative changes. These are usually provoked by crises which cause a disorientation deep enough to provoke questioning long held beliefs, values or assumptions. Spiritual heroes usually have such experiences which result in new perspectives on life and its meaning.
I am interested in learning more about how such transformations could be assisted or actually taught to others. This is very much like what I looked for in the Yoga tradition and the Christian mystic tradition. I have been somewhat encouraged in my pursuit by the developments in what is called the study of Transformational Learning. I am considering the possibilities of investigating adult transformational development and how it compares to the mystical traditions as part of my doctoral thesis.
Any suggestions or bibliographic recommendations will be greatly appreciated.