Engaging the Muscles of Will Power at Keheley Elementary, Cobb County

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

How DO we get in the flow of Motivation and Activation?

We  build the energy resolve and momentum we need to hook into and remember our goal.

We remember. Energy follows thought.

What we pay attention to is pretty important.

If we pay attention to our worries, our doubts, our made up stories about our shortcomings, well, our energy will go there.

Yoga is a practice of training our focus and concentration so that we have choices about where we place our attention, where our energy goes and what aspect of ourselves we feed.

Yoga is about harnessing our attention, about managing energy and about consciously choosing what we are going to do with our energy, with our vital force once we gain access to it.

Yoga.

One of the most immediate and accessible ways to show someone that we care about them is to pay attention to them.

Paying attention in poses is the same way. It is about having a loving and respectful relationship with ourselves, about really getting to know who we are down to the nitty gritty of knowing what our pinky toe is doing and how it’s action relates to our knees, our hips and our hearts..

Our yoga practice speaks to every part of our body. It nourishes us in a revitalizing way.

It smooths out our nervous system.

It restores, it grounds us

It trains our brain

It engages our Will Power

It teaches us~
I WILL Power support for alignment actions with my goals.

I WON”T Power up my worries and doubts. I won’t do something I know deep down isn’t cool.

I WANT Power to hold on to my big picture, my vision.

Every time we take an action that engages the muscles of willpower, they get stronger!

Thank you, Keheley Elementary in Cobb County, for inviting us to your bright school! Your students and coaches are full of dignity and respect and it was such a delight to move and breathe and laugh and get still with you all! Keep on flexing your will power muscles!

 

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

Poised for Friendliness at Bob Mathis Elementary~

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

IMG_1125Here’s to Principal Blackwell for inviting yoga to her faculty meeting~

Because our task is to shine light into the darkness
Release the darkness of our own hesitations…

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Release the idea that we don’t have the right..
Then ride the winds of this new authority into our mastery..
Here’s to the authority to bring on the light

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– Let’s be steady in our service and take care of ourselves first. This allows us to be more effective in service to all..

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Our heart teaches us to exert when we are giving and relax in order to receive- many of us operate in the reverse of this- 😉What if we Softened to experience the sensation of receiving…

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Breath work helps us ground into the present moment-
And gives us freedom from sticky rigid internal battles.. So we can feel at home..
When we feel welcome in our own home body, others feel welcome in our presence..
We breathe, one nostril at a time..

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Every moment we get to choose to be kind or unkind to ourselves… What will help to have the strength and stamina to be kind when it’s hard?

Extend arms up overhead~Inhale, imagine pulling a 200 pound weight in toward heart, exhale up again,inhale and pull heavier weight in toward belly, exhale up again,inhale and pull even heavier weight in toward forehead…

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Whether it’s applause, blame, love, indifference, sympathy, laughter, anger or passion… the more we give, the more we will receive.

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Let’s go for lots and lots of increasing our kindness muscle~
Combining purpose with a practice of conscious breathing… Controlling our breath, dedicating our moments to the movement of our inspirations… The more we purposely focus on being friendly to ourselves, the more we are poised for friendliness, the more LOVE we can receive, the more LOVE we can give…

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Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us~
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” Let’s EXPERIENCE what we want to BELIEVE- physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically ~
Place one hand on heart, one hand on belly so we can project that LOVE out… Breathe in , think LOVE 7 times, pause think LOVE 7 times breathe out think PEACE 7 times
for 7 breaths- 💚💚💚

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Sat Nam Bob Mathis, Sat Nam

May All Love Surround You~ And the pure light within you guide your way on~
See you this fall…

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

Attitude and Altitude of Joy at Avondale Elementary~

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

We need only to clear the hidden patterns that cloud our innate joy…

or rise above them.

So we can be a source of joy for our children.

We use tools to rid the subconscious of the patterns of performance and the hidden self-concepts that block us from perceiving and choosing our birthright of joy.

 

IMG_0332Joy is not found in test scores, materials, or paychecks. It is an attitude and an altitude we bring to all those areas of teaching.IMG_0326We practice the art of tuning into sound currents and tuning into our breath..

 

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So we can model for our children how to focus on sound as well…

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We practice consciously relating to our bodies, so our minds can relate to us…

 

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We twist

We laugh…

 

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We practice patience and compassion…

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We open and connect..

We listen…

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We take our practice back into our classrooms and share our tools with our students…

 

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Thank you, Dr. Dontae Andrews, for inviting me into your school. Avondale Elementary embodies the principles of IB~ so open-minded and generous of heart. We look forward to breathing with your students.

 

PS. Let me know if that mudra works in traffic~ 🙂

Sat Nam

Here’s to the Children…

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

Here’s to the Inquirers

and the Ones who listen with intention~

IMG_4673Here’s to the risk takers

and the Ones who keenly observe.

IMG_4705Here’s to the Communicators

and the Ones who withhold until certain~

IMG_4698Here’s to the Balanced

and the Ones who wobble without worry~

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Here’s to the Caring

and the Ones who are free from needing approval~

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Here’s to the Principled

and the Ones who question authority~

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Here’s to the Thinkers

and the Ones who lead from their heart~

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Here’s to the Reflective

and the Ones who refreshingly revel in silly~

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Here’s to the Open-Minded

and the Ones who made up their minds~

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Here’s to the  Knowledgeable

and the Ones who are in touch with their inner wisdom~

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Here’s to the children who know victory,

who know not just strength, but strength to hold sensitivity,

who know Love is Love,

and the ones,

who will know…

Thank you, Rachel Schattle for Rising Up to take beautiful pictures of the beautiful children at Allgood Elementary~

And thank you Allgood Elementary for your Soul Force

 

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? 

Grounded, Age Nine

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

Flash back almost seven years ago…

I was in fourth grade and I went to school at Fernbank Elementary. A few times a week we would have these great pauses from academic work, in which we would do yoga. Whether it was making dog noises in down dog or meowing and mooing in cat cow, it was one of the best times of the day. For those of you who do yoga you know after an exhilarating class the much earned savasana is what you have to look forward to. But for those of you who have not worked with a group of 4th graders, laying still and being quiet is not their strong suit. Nevertheless yoga would grow to be one of my favorite things, and savasana became a much earned treat after a hard flow.

One day, Cheryl Crawford was telling my friends and I all about how this weekend she was training a group of adults to become yoga teachers. “Why can’t we be yoga teachers?” I asked truly wondering because if adults can do it so can we.  That night one of the other girls there called up Cheryl and suggested the name “Grounded Kids Peace Patrol”.

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It was the funniest thing to see a group of fourth graders laughing about how they were going to become “grounded”. That was how the Grounded Kids Methodology was started.

Flash forward  six years…

I am now a student a Druid Hills High School and it is the summer before my Sophomore year. I am at cheerleading practice over the summer which we hold at school. To get in shape we would do a number of various fun activities. One day it my be Zumba but on this day an art teacher offered to do yoga with all of this. After the great hour of yoga, I stayed to talk to the teacher about yoga and how I wish we could have it as a P.E.class, like I did in both Elementary School and Middle School. She thought this was an amazing idea and contacted Cheryl Crawford. Only a few days later I introduced Cheryl to  our principal, Brittany Cunningham. Shortly after, we had yoga as a PE class, open to everyone.

Flash forward to this year,

Only a year after the class started at Druid Hills, a full fledged movement was well in swing, getting schools all around Atlanta yoga. It only seemed right that I was part of this too. I am now an intern at the Atlanta Yoga Movement, only seven short years after I helped start Grounded Kids.

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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