Worry to Wonder {Full} at Clarkston High

Written by Cheryl Crawford on . Posted in Community Supporters, Curriculum, High School Yoga, Inspiration

Widen Eyes, Hearts, Inhales

WIDEN  Stance, Chests, Exhales

WIDEN Strength, Balance, Inhales

Widen Roots, Branches, Exhales

Widen Trust,  Perspective, Inhales

Widen Reach, Smiles, Exhales

Widen Wisdom, Wonder, Inhales

Widen Worth, WOW, Exhales

Sat Nam, Clarkston High~ We WITNESS your WORTHINESS WITH WILD WONDERMENT!

 

No Mat Needed: Mindful Movement at the Desk opens hearts at Bob Mathis

Written by Awilda Rivera on . Posted in Community Supporters, Curriculum, Elementary School Yoga, Inspiration

Thank you Aquarius Magazine for publishing this article:http://media.wix.com/ugd/ee8f16_5f2a61db6b174e07a7f578a618dea9a8.pdf

Yoga is everywhere, and it seems like everyone is doing it. We see it in movies, on T.V. shows, in commercials, and in ads in magazines. Most of the images presented for mass consumption relating to yoga are generally comprised of white, women, in expensive tights and tank tops, on yoga mats.

In sharp contrast to what you may have seen on TV, at Bob Mathis Elementary school yoga is taught in the classroom at the desk without any yoga mats! Once a week every student in the school, including special education classes, receives 15- 20 minutes of yoga instruction in the classroom. You may wonder how effective this method is given the perceived lack of mobility and small space a public school classroom offers. However, it is remarkable what the students are able to accomplish in such a short period of time, in a limited environment.

I had the pleasure of observing the 4th and 5th grade rotation. Cheryl Crawford, founder of Atlanta Yoga Movement & Co-founder of Grounded Kids Yoga, led me from class to class as she implemented one of the Focus Series sequences in each class. At a school that is 96.1% African American, I wondered how a white woman with a singing bowl teaching yoga in the classroom might be received. Yet as soon as Cheryl entered the room, in each instance, the students perked up. The majority of students were excited to see her, their eyes twinkling with curiosity about what they might do with her today. Some of the teachers were equally excited for Yoga, making sure they put their work away so they could participate with their students.

None of the classes received the same instruction. Each class of students had unique needs, and as a result each class practiced a different sequence. The children were all completely open to the process, they knew exactly what to do. Each group immediately turned their chairs to face the front of the room, grounding through their feet and placing hands on their heart and belly. It was clear that the children not only enjoyed this practice but that they also needed it.

Cheryl led the children in short chair friendly sequences that got them to both sit and stand. Partner poses, Laughter poses, and even the occasional lunge were all fair play! At the end of the each 15 min. session, Cheryl asked the students if any of them would feel comfortable leading the instruction of a pose or breathing technique for their class and 75% of students answered in the affirmative.

The one commonality amongst all the classes was the gracious, open energy demonstrated by all the teachers and students at Bob Mathis. The level of grace and gratitude that was present in the room when engaged in their yoga practice was palpable. Through their open hearts and minds, the students at Bob Mathis have been able to experience the benefits of Yoga with No Mat Needed! The fundamental principals of Yoga transcend the limitations of a mat, studio or clothes. Yoga is truly about connecting with oneself in an authentic and accessible way that utilizes movement and breath. The method of Yoga being taught at Bob Mathis truly embodies the ideals of authenticity, accessibility, and mindful connectivity.

Two weeks from today at 7 PM you can watch a documentary about our yoga program at Bob Mathis Elementary on the AIB Network!

Resilience: Yoga’s Powerful Side Effect at Indian Creek Elementary

Written by Awilda Rivera on . Posted in Community Supporters, Elementary School Yoga, Inspiration

In a country divided, after a stunning presidential election result and a toxic campaign season, the children of Indian Creek Elementary School woke up afraid, angry and confused on November 10, 2017. Indian Creek Elementary School is comprised mostly of Immigrants, Children of Color, Muslims and Non-Christians. Notably most of these children are not typical immigrants, but rather refugees who came to America after fleeing war torn countries, human rights violations, and crumbling economies.

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Normally, my visits to Indian Creek are light, fun and learning oriented. However on 11/10/17 the children needed something different. The concern was heavy on their heart about their futures, potential bans on Muslims, and deportation.

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Thankfully Yoga is not just about getting on your mat and making shapes with your body. Yoga is about giving an individual a safe place to be with their emotions while they work through the things that are challenging for them. Through conscious dedication of our physical practice to a concept, thought, idea, person in need, or challenge one is facing an individual can utilize their Yoga practice to help them refresh their perspective, get clarity, be reminded of their strength and ability to persevere.

In order to get clear on what was bothering them, the children were given an opportunity to express their concerns and ask questions about the political process. One student asked, “Is it true that my family and I will have to leave this country soon?” Another student asked, “Is it possible to keep all Muslims out of the US, because I am Muslim. Will I have to leave?” Others expressed anger, confusion, sadness and overall fear of the unknown.

The beautiful truth about Yoga is that once one knows what is causing them suffering, one can utilize Yoga to transmute those feelings, gain new perspective, and tap into the unlimited strength we each possess deep within.

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The children at Indian Creek Elementary fearlessly opened up and shined a light on their darkest fears that morning. They dove into the process and needed a positive practice more then ever. On 11/10/17 the students learned about Resilience and focused their practice on that idea. Through employing poses like Washing Machine, Breath of Joy, Lunge Twists and powerful visualizations exercises like The Loving Kindness Meditation helped the students release some of their heaviness. I witnessed them move from fear to hope. The same students who had come in crest fallen, depressed and worried were now optimistic and solution oriented. They were ready to take Action. They were uplifted, smiling, and left happier then they had arrived. Yoga had reminded these children that they may be down, but they will never be out as long as they remember the power they have within. #YogafortheWin

Kroger invests in Atlanta Yoga Movement’s Commitment to Public Schools

Written by Cheryl Crawford on . Posted in Community Supporters, Elementary School Yoga, Inspiration

The students ground through their sits bones, strengthening their core while they have fun in Playing With Fire Pose

The students ground through their sitting bones, strengthening their core while they have fun in Playing With Fire Pose

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Atlanta Yoga Movement receives generous grant from Kroger

Atlanta Yoga Movement will be able to continue enriching the lives of Jolly Elementary students with the Yoga By Letter Curriculum thanks to the Kroger Foundation.

ATLANTA, GA, April 13, 2016 — Atlanta Yoga Movement is proud to announce that the grant application submitted to the Kroger Foundation has been approved.

The Generous grant will make Yoga possible at Jolly Elementary School during the 2016-2017 academic year. The grant will make possible: two 10 week, Yoga by letter programs. Not only will the program span the 2016-2017 academic year but it will also extend the length of the program from 7 to 10 weeks.

Atlanta Yoga Movement is ecstatic that the Kroger Foundation has decided to recognize and support the organizations efforts to increase student’s physical awareness, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, anatomical knowledge and literacy through the ‘Yoga By Letter’ Curriculum.

Atlanta Yoga Movement would also like to recognize Bruce Lucia and Glenn Jenkins at Kroger Corporate for their recommendation and assistance with this application. The organization would also like to recognize the hard work of Amanda Hendricks, who volunteered her time to work tirelessly in order to help us complete the grant application.

To learn more about the work Atlanta Yoga Movement is doing or to donate to our cause, please visit:

www.atlantayogamovement.org

About Atlanta Yoga Movement:

Atlanta Yoga Movement is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization that seeks to bring yoga into Atlanta schools to support the learning and lives of faculty, staff and students. The organization pairs qualified, quality yoga instructors with schools to administer yoga curriculum’s, which incorporates literacy, movement and mindfulness.

Contact
Awilda Rivera, Board Chair
508-603-9461
info@atlantayogamovement.org

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These eager student are challenging themselves with Eagle Pose.

These eager student are challenging themselves with Eagle Pose.

Yoga, Privilege & Public School

Written by Awilda Rivera on . Posted in Community Supporters, Curriculum, Elementary School Yoga

Yoga, Privilege and Public School

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Underfunded and over populated Public Schools are not a new phenomenon. For decades there has been a call to improve the quality of the education and experience in public schools. However, I know from my own experience growing up in New York City, that not every public school is created equally. Since nearly half of the funds that pay for public schools are connected to property taxes[1], it is easy to see why some schools are be able to provide robust curriculums with supplemental enrichment while other schools are not able.

The new normal for students who live in areas with underfunded schools is that they are not privileged with programs like Art or Music. Frequently, the school administration is strapped, understaffed, and focused on creating budgets that secure the school’s ability to provide students with much needed breakfast and lunch. As a result of their budget constraints, these underprivileged schools could only dream of providing supplemental enrichment programs for their students.

You may ask: If the students are learning the academic necessities in the classroom and the school is feeding them, what else does the student really need? The truth is that everyone learns differently. In Frames of Mind, Gardner discusses the variety of ways in which humans can learn. Body-Kinesthetic learning occurs when humans use touch, sound, action, movement and hands-on work to understand new ideas and solve problems. Yoga offers students an opportunity to learn using their Body-Kinesthetic intelligence.

In 2015, Atlanta Yoga Movement received a generous grant from the United Way. As a result, I was afforded the opportunity to teach the Yoga By Letter curriculum at two under served, under funded, and over populated schools in Atlanta. The Clarkston neighborhood, where these two schools are located, is populated mostly by Middle Eastern and African Refugees, while there is some residential development happening in Clarkston the current landscape is predominated by low-income apartment complexes. Many of the students at these schools are learning English as a second language, and all of them come from economically disadvantaged families.

Armed with a Curriculum that marries movement, literacy, mindfulness and fun, I threw myself into the work. Almost instantly I began to watch the students at each school transform. I watched these students who may have heard of Yoga, but had certainly never practiced it, arrive to each class excited and ready to move.They gleefully repeated the alliterated action words, laughing without reservation during laughter poses, and soaking up the names of their muscles, bones and glands. Unbeknownst to me, the students at Indian Creek Elementary loved Yoga so much that the word started to get around that 3rd and 4th grade were getting to do Yoga during PE and Health, with in a few days 5th graders were asking why they didn’t get to do Yoga. The next week , the 3rd and 4th grade classes that had gym during the flex period were asking their teachers to switch PE periods with the other teachers so they could get Yoga. The students who were not receiving Yoga could see the value in what their schoolmates were getting and logically they also wanted it.

Yoga, an endeavor marked for the privileged in the US, has enriched the quality and experience of public school for these students. Privilege is an unavoidable reality of the American experience; however, awareness of the inequity of resources can be the greatest ally of the underserved. Organizations like Atlanta Yoga Movement and the United Way are working tirelessly to expose under privileged children to supplemental enrichment programs like Yoga, while at school. I didn’t know what Yoga was until I was 15, and even then I held the limiting belief that it was something only afforded to the affluent. Thankfully the students of Indian Creek Elementary & Jolly Elementary have received some exposure to this life changing practice, and do not have to limit themselves by thinking Yoga is not for them.

The Yoga By Letter curriculum provides many benefits beyond the obvious as the students are able to learn Anatomy, Physiology, Vocabulary, Health, Science, Self Awareness, and Mindfulness all in one fell swoop. You haven’t lived until you have had a 3rd grader, that is still learning English, come up to you over flowing with excitement wrapping their fingers on their collar bone yelling, “CLAVICLE” or grabbing their heal shouting “CALCANEUS” in utter jubilation.

Yoga should not be a Privilege and it should be in every public school, especially the ones with socio-economically disadvantaged student bodies. Through exposing children to new ways of thinking, vocabulary, and ways of learning we are investing in the future of our society. The old cliché is true, The Children are our Future, so we must invest in them.  I’ve decided to invest in them. Will you invest in them?

To Donate click here. To inquire about becoming one of our teachers please email Cheryl@atlantayogamovement.org.

The children at Jolly Elementary practicing Yoga :

These eager student are challenging themselves with Eagle Pose.

These eager student are challenging themselves with Double Check Pose.

 

 

The students ground through their sits bones, strengthening their core while they have fun in Playing With Fire Pose

The students ground through their sitting bones, strengthening their core while they have fun in Playing With Fire Pose.

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may02/vol59/num08/Unequal-School-Funding-in-the-United-States.aspx

A Great Way to get Yoga into Your High School (a true story)

Written by Cheryl Crawford on . Posted in Community Supporters, High School Yoga

1. Encourage your sweetest assistant principal to call us and tell us all the wonderful things she heard about our meaningful program and then invite us to teach a 90 minute  PE class.

 

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2.Hug us as soon as we enter the school building.

3. Introduce us to your coolest, most fun-loving tough loving PE/Health teacher. He doesn’t have to be an NFL vet, but it helps if he loves his job and of course, the students.

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4. After the yoga class, ask the students for feedback. Note the shifts that yoga can create in just one class. Imagine an entire semester of radiant energy.

5. Encourage the huge hearted PE teacher to get on a mat so he can experience the effects of yoga. He most likely will want to walk around and make sure the students are understanding what is expected of them, but then join in once he sees how much we know how to manage a class.

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6. Introduce us to your principal, who is obviously a wellness warrior who understands the mind-body connection’s impact.

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7. Discuss how to implement yoga into the school for the following semester.

Bring it On, Elizabeth Andrews High, Bring it On.

Welcome to Our World – Queen 2

Written by Queen 1 & Queen 2 on . Posted in Community Supporters, Curriculum, High School Yoga, Inspiration

Playing with Fire

Something special happens every morning during first period at Druid Hills High School. On the stage, behind the curtain, in the midst of whistles blowing and instruments being tuned, a group of 19 students breathe together.

I’m their yoga teacher. They might not know it, but I watch them very carefully. They might not fully understand it yet, but I see them with my heart.

Rasheed

Some days I wonder if Juka, a beautiful Nepalese girl with visible physical discomfort, truly understands the words I say, or if her pride keeps her in the dark as she navigates this new found world to the best of her ability. I wonder because her eyes wander and her journal entries are short.

I hope she gets it.

Peace

She has been in the U.S. two years longer than Malin and Junco, who fluently and confidently engage in conversation. I think Juka might just be a quiet girl, who plays things close to the vest.

But I hope she gets it.

Terrance DDD

I wish I could twirl like Terryl, a teddy bear sized student with his own very special way of seeing the World. Terryl comes bounding into class each morning with an orange skullcap fixed on his head and spends the first 15 minutes twirling, running and leaping around the stage like a ballerina. His writing reveals his inexhaustible imagination. He’s an adventurer at heart. He dreams of being a Samurai in Japan.

We hold space for students with gender confusion. We honor pronouns. We respect each name. We allow for anger, anxiety, sadness, and a good dose of sleepy. Some days the class is all ears, synced into the movements, poised in their presence. Other days it is as if no one got the “this is yoga class” memo. Everyone is tired, sprawled out on their mats or engaged in side conversations.

Prom is 2 weeks away. How important can yoga REALLY be???

Nice to Meet You

And still we know the yoga is happening. There is change taking place on the surface and deep underneath all the layers of teenagerism. We love all the change.

Coach Karen Jackson is taking the class this semester. She has taught at DHHS for 5 years now. Students look for her before, during and after class. It’s clear to us that almost always they’re just looking for an excuse to be seen by Karen.

Because she watches them closely with her heart. They feel it, whether they know that’s what they’re feeling or not.

Sydney Teaching

Keneya started giving me hugs 3 weeks ago. I don’t know what happened, other than that she started. She shines more brightly now than she did before. Her hoodie is not pulled quite so far forward. She’s ready to show us that much more of herself.

She doesn’t know it, but we’ve seen her the whole time. She’s beautiful.

Sweet Sisiey’s speaks up and says “Queen 2”, each time we prep for “Don’t Rock the Boat” (wheel pose). That’s my teaching name. I walk over and help her reach her hands to her ankles, and support the back of her heart so she can feel free. It is an honor to be invited in this way.

This is yoga. This is change. We are shifting, one teacher, one student, at a time.

We watch them with our hearts.

We are The Atlanta Yoga Movement.

5 Mindful Breathing Techniques I shared with Clarkston High School Staff

Written by Cheryl Crawford on . Posted in Community Supporters, High School Yoga

 

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 1. Powerful breath work that strengthens the navel center can transmute:

Anger into Action

Fear into Joy

Sadness into Calm

{We practiced Ego Eradicator and focused on our personal power}

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2. Staying respectful and responsive and reflective takes steady practice, especially when in front of the classroom.

One of my dear colleagues who teaches yoga and mindfulness full time in NYC, Kelli Love, sets the intention to be a calm presence when greeting students at the door.

She says, “I inhaled joy and exhaled peace as I looked in each of their eyes.   The student standing in front of the line gently said “I feel calm already”.  This small moment made my day. We can set the tone before even beginning class with our presence as they attune to us.”

(We practiced intention breath work)

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3.  It’s almost impossible to be aware of our long deep breathing and be uptight or angry at the same time.

Each time we gently return our attention to our breath and intention, we’re training our cells to return to a more calm state no matter what the county or students are demanding.

{We practiced Focus Five breath work}

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  1. When we are more consistently regulating our emotions and patterns we become a model for our students to do the same.

Students act up when they feel disrespected, unseen and unsafe. They feel safe when the teacher is relaxed, aware and paying attention. We cannot teach, impose, control or force respect on students, we can only demonstrate.

{We practiced Left Breath Right which was Principal Jone’s favorite}

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  1. Laughter powers up our navel center and creates more of a storehouse of energy, of life force to draw from.IMG_8942

Thank you Clarkston High for creating great energy together.

Sat Nam

High School Yoga: Curriculum in Action

Written by Cheryl Crawford on . Posted in Community Supporters, Curriculum, High School Yoga, Student Feedback

I’m so grateful for the support of the Southeast Yoga Conference. This year Co-Founding Goddesses Melissa Katz and Nicole Jurovics asked me to present an excerpt from our yoga elective class.  The write up went like this:

Cheryl along with some of her high school students who participated in the first ever semester-long yoga elective entitled the “United States of You” as they guide you on a journey deep into your core of an inner most state…Doubt. It’s so easy to get to these days! You’ll move from this state of Doubt towards the State of Trust, creating a sense of awareness through Grounded Poses and an openness to shed what is no longer useful, keeping what is of value, and shaking the rest away with grit and giggles.

Come connect, breathe, move and receive the powerful wisdom of yoga and hear first-hand how yoga has benefited the students of Atlanta.

 

So, I asked four of our students to teach with me down at the W Midtown on a Friday Afternoon in October, and they all said, “YES”!

greetingsWe all arrived early enough for hugs and giggles before we began. We hadn’t seen each other since last May.

 

alex nia cody me smilesThe participants were quite touched by these beautiful kids. Their rich views on yoga are awe inspiring. Two of them shared that yoga saved their lives. One said he has a love/hate relationship with yoga and he now owns a yoga mat and is taking yoga again this semester. The other said it really helped him through the stress of senior year.

all of usA few of them were quite nervous about teaching a sequence to adults they had never met. Nervous means caring.Birds always tremble before flight.

Josh CodyJosh began with a comedy routine that was hilarious.

JoshWe were touched that he wore a shirt that a fellow yoga student from Burma had given him. It brought back the knowledge that yoga really does connect children from different cultures and backgrounds. Moving and breathing and laughing together has a way of doing that.

 

Josh teachingJosh taught the first set of poses which includes CALM DOWN. We began to notice where our Doubts liked to dwell inside.

rock n rollHis sprinklings of sillies kept us laughing the whole time.

 

plankCody guided us through the Solid Ground Flow with breath cues and alignment.

shakinJosh helped us shake out our Doubts.

 

got your back alexis smileI’ve Got Your Back Pose helped us laugh at our Doubts.

 

ive got your backAnd brought us closer to the state of Trust.

 

bowAlexis taught heart opening back bends.

 

playing with fireWe Played with Fire to transform Doubts Dust into Trusting Stars.

elective b and wNia led us into Energy Circuit for more connection and power.

 

electric circleEnergy is her favorite topic and she’s quite content holding the space here.

cardsThe sequence was well received.

 

cards 2and a Joy to teach together.

me lotusAfter meditation and final savasana we stayed to answer questions. Every One was open and trusting and sweet. It was a very meaningful experience for us and I am so, so grateful to our students, to our participants, to our fabulous photographer, Jolie Loren Photography (http://www.jolieloren.com/), who captured these sweet moments of emotion, and of course to Nicole and Melissa for inviting us to share our method.

Truth is the Word. Love is the Action. Sat Nam.

Sanctuary for Relaxation

Written by admin on . Posted in Community Supporters, Elementary School Yoga, Student Feedback

Take a breath.

Close your eyes.

 

Is this difficult? Is life or the environment around you too distracting for you to simply take a moment and relax?

 

This is a major problem many teachers and students have during the day- relaxing. But schools, like Fernbank and Oak Grove Elementary are taking steps to improve this.

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The past week, I have been setting up the yoga room at Fernbank. From the moment anyone walks into the room you can feel a sense of relief. This space is a calm and collective sanctuary for learning. Reserved solely for yoga, it is a place where teachers and students can come to find relaxation during the long and rigorous school day. More schools should learn from these and move towards having their own space for a relaxation sanctuary.  Not only is the room used for yoga club, which at both these schools is a highly attended and loved club, but also teachers and their classes can use it during the days.

 

IMG_7888Take a breath.

Close your eyes.

Envision a room all to yourself, lined with candles, and a soft carpet beneath your feet.

Isn’t too hard to relax now is it? 

Help expand our program by making a donation. A $50 donation can help us teach up to 100 students yoga at a time.

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