Students Visit Regions Hospital

Third Graders visit Regions Hospital to share knowledge about Mindfulness and Movement.

Mindfulness is the current buzzword when it comes to health and well-being. But what does it really mean?

“Being mindful means being calm, focused and ‘present in the moment’,” says Regions Hospital health coach Brooke Campbell. “And it applies to everyone, from children to adults!”

In fact, children might have some of the best ideas on how to be mindful. That’s certainly the case when it comes to a class of third graders from Garlough Environmental Magnet School in West St. Paul.

students present for Regions HospitalTheir teacher, Ms. Stephanie Kennelly, extended the practice of movement and mindfulness into her classroom after receiving training from 1000 Petals. And now it’s something the students work on every day.

Recently, the class visited Regions to share their strategies. Here are 4 tips the kids gave on how to relax and manage stress:

Focus on positive intentions.

“Think about how you want to show up today.” This is a phrase that Ms. Kennelly repeats each morning to her students. And it’s something you can do every day, too.

Wondering how you can hold yourself accountable to your intention? Try putting it in writing! On the day the class visited Regions, the students wrote down their intentions for the day on the back of their name tags so they could refer back to them. One child’s intention read: “I will be focused, strong and kind.”

Bring breathing and yoga techniques into your day-to-day.

Yoga techniques like balance poses, stretches and deep breathing can help a lot! The “volcano” is one pose that the third graders say is especially useful. You start with your hands together at the heart, lift your arms up over your head and out. It allows you to relax and stretch the shoulders, where many of us hold tension.

The “wood chopper” is another favorite. You put both hands together over your head as if holding an ax. Then you throw your arms and body down with a “huh!” The exhalation and movement is a good way to let out frustration.

“When you go there in the body, you go there in the mind,” the class said during their visit. And according to Ms. Kennelly, using essential oils like peppermint and pinwheels for breathing exercises can enhance these techniques.

Remember the five S’s when you get stressed out or mad.

Stop, sigh, stretch, shake and smile. The five S’s allow you to refocus, get calm and loosen up.

And remember to “be where your feet are,” as one third grader says. Our minds are racing from one thing to the next all day. If you can take time to pause and check in with your body, mind and emotions, you will feel a sense of calm and focus. And that’s what helps us feel better and be more present for what we really want to focus our energy on.

At Garlough Environmental Magnet School, a child isn’t sent to the principal’s office if he or she misbehaves. Instead the first stop is the “Relaxation Station.” There, the child can take a moment to slow down, refocus and create a positive experience rather than a negative one.

“Sometimes you will wonder where the teacher is. And you’ll find her in the relaxation station,” Ms. Kennelly said with a smile.

Eat better. Get power.

Eating at least five fruits and vegetables per day is the key to feeling healthier and more energized. So be mindful with your snacking!

Twice a week, fresh fruit and vegetables are brought into Ms. Kennelly’s class for everyone to try. Students discuss the flavors and textures of the food. And it’s gotten more kids willing to try new foods.

Mindfulness applies to nearly every part of life. It includes everything from mindful commuting, to being mindful of what we eat (and how it smells and tastes) to being mindful of opportunities to sneak in some physical activity – or rest – during our busy days. And for adults, a good place to start learning the art of mindfulness is from these third graders!

June 26, 2017

See Original Article Health Partners

Teachers and Move Mindfully®

You are the intervention.

yoga on the beach

“Teaching is not what it used to be,” says a 40-year veteran teacher. It’s hard to pin point exactly what the changes are or where they are coming from. However, I think most teachers can agree that things are increasingly more… stressful.

Passing other staff in the hallway, an appropriate greeting now consists of a grunt or at best, “It’s Friday.” Conversations in the staff lounge center around the uncertainties and anxiety facing our teaching profession from the greater political cultural climate. While technology and innovation have considerable benefits, the new skills and information we are expected to personally process and then apply to our instruction, has teachers feeling like hamsters on a wheel. Not to mention the data! Teacher performance is being continually monitored and tracked by standardized testing.

As I sit at my back table, administering a reading test, I look up and see the little girl sitting in front of me. Except, I see her-seeing me. Hunched shoulders. Furrowed brows. Clenched jaw. My body communicates what my brain can’t fully comprehend. I am stressed. Much to my surprise and horror… her body language was matching mine. She was mirroring me.

This realization hit me hard. I noticed students all around exhibiting stress signals. Hiding under tables. Making excuses to leave the classroom and wander the halls. Destroying classroom supplies. These behaviors were symptoms of emotional turmoil, and it was standing in the way of students achieving their academic potential.

Now, I know that many of these issues are complex and multilayered. I am by no means blaming teachers for the  dysregulation in the classroom. However, the first step to an emotionally regulated classroom is to be emotionally regulated yourself.  It is imperative that we bring the body into our work.

YOU are the intervention

The good news is, even if your brain is not yet convinced, you can begin with your body.

Here are three tips to get started.

1. Set an intention for yourself and your classroom

Before you get out of bed, think about how you want to show up today. Words like- strong, healthy, at ease, organized, or peaceful. Imagine what it looks like and feels like. Now imagine the one thing that would make your classroom great today. This intention could be, “students working well together in pairs” or “the excitement for a new project.” Visualize and move to the feeling place of these intentions then write them down. I have found that writing an intention down and visualizing the outcome takes less than a minute. However, most days, this fortune actually comes to fruition. A worthy time investment.

2. Take a breathing break

Teachers never stop. Heck, we usually don’t even slow down. I have seen teachers eating their lunch while walking down the hallway! During your prep, your lunch, transitions between classes… intentionally take 5–10 breaths. Inhale for 2 counts and exhale for 4 counts. I even like to close my eyes and bring back my intention from the morning. For an added stress relief, cup your hands and inhale our Move Mindfully® Essential Oil Blend.

3. Unwind your nervous system

Good ol’ fight or flight. Your body doesn’t know if you are running away from a hungry predator or if you are preparing to be observed by your principal. All it knows, is it’s time to send in the stress hormones! Your frontal cortex can’t talk its way out of this response. “Body, I am not being chased by a predator, it’s just my annual observation.” However, there are key trigger points in the body that activate when the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. This means, if we can release the body throughout the day, the brain will believe that everything is okay.

Jaw:

Place feet flat on the floor and sit up nice and tall. Inhale breath and when you exhale stick out your tongue. For added effect add a nice long “hah” sound. I even like to massage the opening that is created next to my ears while my jaw is open.

Eyes:

Rub your hands together to create heat and place them on your eyes. And/or gently smooth out the brow line from center to outer eye, say to yourself “soft eyes”. (Yes, unfurrow that teacher brow.)

Shoulders:

Interlace fingers behind your back for a chest expansion and take three slow deep breaths. Teachers spend a great deal of time hunched over students, and simply opening the shoulders can be a total mood changer.

Hip Flexors:

Lunge back with right foot and left foot forward in a bent knee lunge, take a few breaths, then switch sides. Your hip flexors and psoas are your flight muscles, so release them!

Share this information with our handout on the Somatic Response.

Daily Routines

I began to realize that same little girl, mirroring my furrowed brow and hunched shoulders, began to mirror my deep breathing. When doing a backbend stretch during a transition she commented, “It feels good to stretch, doesn’t it?” Yes. It does.

When we release the tension and anxiety held in the body, we are able to be present. The present moment is our freedom. This intervention for your body is an important first step for creating a peaceful classroom for your students.

As I began implementing these daily routines, I noticed other things around me begin to shift. Feeling overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing. I changed my focus and redefined what was important and started to pay attention on how I was bringing my body to work.

Have you tried any self interventions? What has worked? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

move mindfully® in the classroom

Compliment Game

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

As the year comes to a close and I look around my classroom, I see the artifacts of academics. The Mayan Temple, the diagram of the solar system, the poster of geometric shapes. I reflect on the hours of planning and preparation that went into my instruction. At the end of year, I also always find my self reflecting on the students.

I think about a student who was incredibly shy. English is her second language and she was self-conscious about possible mistakes. At the beginning of the school year, her answers were only one word. At lunch, she would sit and listen, never directly responding to conversations.

Around mid-year, I gave her a journal. By the end of the month, she had filled every single page. One day, she asked me if she could share some of her writing. With a clear and confident voice, she read a poem she’d written. It was beautiful. I showered her with praise and through a smile she said, “Writing makes me feel brave.”

Reflecting on this student, I felt the need to give her a compliment and share with her what she had taught me. My thoughts began to multiply as I realized every student had somehow made an impact on me. We had all made contributions to each other. They needed to be recognized.

Starting with the Compliment Game

A great place to start is with The Compliment Game from the Yoga Calm® Curriculum. It teaches students how to give and receive compliments. We played this game many times throughout the year. I was ready to take the compliments to a deeper level. I launched a class-wide compliment challenge: write a high-quality compliment for each student in class. This got me thinking… what makes a good compliment?

Writing High Quality Compliments

I began by bringing the class to a place of stillness. Start with ringing the chime, and placing Hands on Heart and Belly with cuing language found in our Move Mindfully® Card Deck. We envisioned our community. The healthy relationships we had built over the year rested on communication, teamwork, and social engagement.
students support one another in tree circle

Working through the CASEL standards for social emotional learning, students were able to demonstrate their understanding of community. My students had background from our ELA standards on character traits. This was the perfect place for a practical application!

Compliments Using ACT

A is for ACTION

Think of a specific positive action you observed.
“I observed Nora return her library books.”

C is for CHARACTER TRAIT

Think of a character trait that would describe someone acting that way.
“Nora is responsible.”

T is for TEACH Me

Think about what that action can teach you.
“This taught me the importance of staying organized.”

“Nora, I noticed that you always return your library books. I appreciate your responsibility and it has taught me the importance of staying organized.”

My students crafted compliments for each other using this technique. I encourage you to give it a try as a way to honor students. Take the time and make space to give and receive meaningful compliments. Life as a teacher begins the day you realize you are a learner along with your students.

My Compliment

I see before me a girl with a story to share. You are always listening. I notice. You are always thinking and aware of the world around you. When you shared your writing in front of the class, I connected with your bravery. You taught me the importance of sharing my story. I have rediscovered my love of writing. You taught me to be brave.
Love, Mrs. Kennelly

As I watch the bus pull out of the parking lot, I see my students’ smiling faces through the window. I am thankful for how much I have learned this year. The teacher in me, honors the teacher in you.

school bus leaving

Have you used compliments? How did you close the year? Leave a Comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Students and Move Mindfully®

This isn’t one more thing… it is the thing.

This week, our team has turned the tables and asked our youth to write testimonials. What do our students think of this work? Here are the words of third graders. Enjoy!

Mangus

Mindfulness is important for many things, especially school. When you’re listening to directions you have to focus on who is talking. One way I practice mindfulness is through focusing on yoga poses. In order to be present you have to be mindful of what you are doing. I stay calm. I can appreciate the world around me. Have you ever watched a snowflake fall to the ground? – Magnus

Rory

In our class we practice yoga, use the breathing ball and relaxation station. First, yoga helps me focus on what I am trying to do. My favorite yoga pose is the tree pose because it helps me calm down and listen. Using the breathing ball helps me stay grounded after moments of craziness. I like to visit the relaxation station at times when I feel off. I get to put on headphones, use the breathing ball, look at rocks and lay down with blankets and pillows. It is a gift to have such focus and calmness together. Find your power, your rhythm and your worries disappear! – Rory

Mackenzie

Yoga has helped me be a calmer person. For example if I get frustrated I will take five deep breaths and feel better. Being mindful when you eat can be quite interesting. It is amazing how being calm can make you see things in a different way. When I’m grounded my feet are flat on the floor and my hands get heavy. Being grounded can help me stay focused and relaxed. For example if there is a big test or something big coming up that I would get nervous for, being grounded takes away that nervousness. – Mackenzie

Ashley

In our class we have worked on mindfulness activities. Our minds should be on what we’re doing, not what we are going to do or what we did. Keep your mind in the present. Forward folds helped me stay positive. I use forward fold when I feel like the whole world is depending on me. I know that everybody could use this one little thing. – Ashley

This isn’t one more thing… it is THE thing. We owe it to our children. Are you ready to get started? Visit our store for the Move Mindfully® Starter Kit products and our Teachers Pay Teachers site for the online content.

Do you have a short anecdote to share? Please leave a comment.

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly