Move Mindfully Sleep Routine

When working with youth we always ask, “How many of you have problems with sleep?” It is not surprising to see almost all hands slowly rise.

Sleep is such an important component to overall health and well being. Addressing these concerns should be a priority for all youth workers. Sleep is where everything happens for the heart, mind and body. Learning is integrated. Muscles are healed. Emotions are reset.

The promise of a restful night sleep is a motivating factor for students to bring this work out of the classroom and into their home. From infants to teenagers, our Sleep Routine works for everyone. It is crucial that children establish sleep hygiene habits at a young age. We have developed a series of positions from our Move Mindfully Card Deck that are scientifically proven to get the body and mind ready for quality sleep.

Not only is this recommended for youth, but also adults! The quality of your sleep is more important than the quantity. Instead of rushing off to bed, taking 15 minutes with our Sleep Routine will pay off with high quality sleep to follow.

Here are the five easy steps to a great night sleep!

Child’s Pose

 

This is a great position to ready the body. It tunes out visual stimulation and allows focus on breath. We recommend staying here for 5-10 deep breaths. If you are using this pose with a child, the adult can place hands on back for back breathing.

 

 

 

Knees Hug In

 

 

 

Gently rocking side to side in this position to allow a decompression of the lumbar spine. It also massages the organs and soothes adrenals.

 

 

 

Legs Up the Wall

 

 

This inversion modification allows the legs to be above the heart, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. You can try this position on a chair or the bed if up the wall is not accessible.

 

 

 

 

 

Floor Twists

Keeping shoulders on the floor and twisting side to side not only readjusts the spine, but also has a detoxifying affect on the digestive system. After twists, it may feel good to do another Knees Hug In.

 

 

 

Final Relaxation

Even if you are a side or tummy sleeper, we recommend you spend the first 5-10 minutes on your back. Let all muscles release and focus on deep, restful breathing.

These positions should be taught and implemented throughout the day. Allowing 1-3 minute breaks trains the mind and body how to shut down. Also, keeping cortisol levels low throughout the day will have an impact at bedtime.

Have you tried a sleep routine with your children or yourself? How do you see yourself using these positions in your work? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Balancing Routine and Standardized Testing

Life is a balancing act.

In our Mindful Movement poses we think of balance as an even distribution of weight. However, expanding the definition to “having correct proportions”, the idea of balance transfers to many different aspects of life.

Work life balance. Eating a balanced diet. A justice system of checks and balances. Balancing your finances. So… what does it mean to be balanced?

I posed this question to my students. We discussed the many applications of the word “balanced”. Students spoke of the importance of balance between time in nature and time with technology. Time with friends and time alone. Time feeling excited and time feeling calm. Next, they created a mind map in an App called Kidspiration.


Okay, I played along too! As an educator, this time of year has me thinking about… gulp… standardized tests. I struggle to find the balance. The balance between convincing my students that the test is extremely important AND wanting to proclaim how truly unimportant it should be. The balance between providing test prep practice runs AND continuing with the social emotional time investment.

To help achieve balance, I turn to our focusing routine. Check out our store to find full size posters and poster strips with the routine. The visuals are a fantastic resource during testing, where students are provided a three minute, no talking, break.

Here is the breakdown. The middle of focusing routine works on balancing by transitioning from tree pose to eagle pose. The challenge comes from keeping the lifted foot off of the Earth through every transition.

Begin in Tree Pose.


From tree pose, lift the foot up and over into Eagle. Hug arms one under the other and squeeze in while keeping the crown of the head lifted.

For an added balance challenge, I threw in an additional balancing pose. From Eagle, bend the standing leg and extend the wrapped leg back behind to straight. Extend the arms out straight in front. Shine bright in Warrior III.


From Warrior III, transition back to Tree.

Better yet, try our Move Mindfully Card Deck and create your own routines and balancing series!

Balance. What does it look like in your life? In your teaching? Do you think you could use this series with your students during testing? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Transitioning Routine and Standing in Line

This week we have been using the transitioning routine when waiting in line. Waiting for the bathroom? Drinking fountain? Getting into the lunchroom? (Come to think of it… there is a lot of waiting)

Waiting is hard. Imagine you are in line. You are in line with people you know. Say, you are waiting in a line for lunch or a line to register for a conference. Now imagine waiting, standing next to your friend… in complete silence. Fat chance.

Sometimes when I ask my students to do something I think, “What would I do?” We often ask students to stand in line, and wait- quietly. However, I don’t think that many adults could accomplish such a task… I know I couldn’t. So, this week we worked on a Move Mindfully routine designed for those times that you are waiting, specifically in the hallway or in line.

One student leads the routine while the others follow. After the leader has completed the sequence, they choose another student (someone who showed effort) to be leader.

I even used this routine when we were lined up outside waiting to come back in the building. It works best when you have access to a wall, but it can be done without one as well.

I like this sequence because it calms (forward folds) and activates (chair pose) from a stationary position. I like to hold chair pose for a few breaths… kids love the thigh burn.

Some teachers will play the quiet game or statue game, but in my opinion, this option is even better because not only are students quiet and engaged, but they are also moving through self regulating postures. I even noticed a student using chair pose, unprompted, waiting to get into the library.

The transitioning routine can be found on strips and posters in our store. Try hanging one in the hallway by the bathroom or drinking fountain.

Have you tried the transitioning routine? Do you use Yoga Poses for waiting transitions? What’s worked well? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Centering Routine and Small Group Instruction

This time of year, it can be difficult to stay centered. How can we help students get ready to learn?

Are you teaching “small groups”? Rotating through reading stations, math stations, Daily 5, Daily 3, CAFE, conferring… Woosh, is your head spinning yet? I wonder how the students feel!

This trend of small, skill based, differentiated groupings, may be a good thing for academic goals, but it definitely increases the amount of transitions. The students are expected to move around the room, get materials, navigate space and remain focused on individualized academic tasks. That’s a lot to ask.

I have found ease in transition with consistent use of the 1000 Petals Centering Routine.

All students, the ones working in a small group and the others working independently or with partners, go through the flow. I love this routine because it is done completely from a seated position in a chair. It is perfect for starting groups or for seated body breaks. This routine also utilizes twists, which are great to promote digestion after lunch!

At the end of the routine we have a little call and response, “I’m centered and ready to learn, class” “I’m centered and ready to learn, Mrs. Kennelly”.

I have found that the most powerful pose in the sequence is “head on desk” version of child’s pose. I know the idea of “head down” can seem punitive, but I think this powerful pose just has had bad PR. It triggers the calming response to lower the neck and also shuts out visual stimuli.

Noticing a need for stillness, I challenged the students to one minute of total stillness after the sequence. The first 10 seconds there was a little bit of rustling, but towards the end- it was totally still.

When I began to cue them out, most of the students didn’t even move. When they finally emerged they said, “I felt so heavy” and “I feel so calm”.

I used this energy shift as an opportunity to went into whole group silent reading time. This, by far, was the most focused my students have ever been during silent reading. Nobody got up, moved around or asked to go the bathroom. They were totally focused on the task at hand.

After reading time was over and I signaled transition, many students just continued to sit and read… even begging to continue. Going with what we had created, I canceled my science lesson for the day and allowed the reading to continue.

 

I know a movement based classroom is all the rage. Wiggle seats, wiggle standers and fidgets galore. Don’t get me wrong, I think that movement is extremely important. However, we need to look at what types of movement we are promoting and that it is complimented with intentional moments of stillness. A calm alert sate is what is best for learning.

Do you use a centering routine after transitions? What have you done to promote stillness? Leave a comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Calming Routine and Taking Breaks

In a world that never seems to stop moving, we all need a place to get grounded.

What does this look like in the real world? Recently on a trip to the Mayo Clinic, I visited an entire room devoted for staff and patient meditation. Many classrooms have a “take a break” or “chill chair” area. Closer to home, I have a friend who has a bean bag for “calm body breaks” in the kids’ playroom.

In my classroom, we have the Relaxation Station. At the heart of the relaxation station is the Move Mindfully Calming Routine. The students are familiar with this routine because we practice as a whole group 2-5 times a week.

This routine should be practiced as a whole group multiple times a week before students are expected to practice independently, especially if they are agitated. We have a poster of the Calming Routine hanging on the wall in the Relaxation Station for a great visual reminder. If your space doesn’t allow, we also sell the routines on smaller strips. Another option is to have students create their own routine from our card deck.


Here are my ground rules for entering the Relaxation Station.

Relaxation Station Rules

1. Only one student allowed in the area at a time. No exceptions.

2. The Relaxation Station is not for school work. This is a space to reset and refocus for the tasks of the school day. If you take this seriously, the kids will also take it seriously.

3. The first thing, upon entering, is the Calming Routine. Students must complete at least three of the poses. (Upward Mountain, forward fold, child’s pose is a popular three choice option)

        

4. Once their routine is finished, they can pick a timer to set a time limit for additional calming activities.

What else is available in the Relaxation Station?

1. Pillows and Blankets

Some kids honestly just need five minutes to close their eyes and lay down. Especially if there are sleep issues at home, this may be exactly what their body needs at the moment. I have had to actually wake some students up from a deep sleep.

2. Lavender  and Peppermint

Lavender is calming and relaxing and peppermint is stimulating and wakes up the brain. I use essential oil diluted in water. The students love using these sprays!

3. Worry Stones

When I was researching trauma this summer, I came across the suggested use of worry stones. It is a simple, inexpensive and highly effective treatment. I have a tray full so students have some choice of what they are “drawn to” on that day. Grounding is an important principle that draws us into the current moment to become present.

 

4. Books

Some students can find calm by reading. I have A Boy and the Bear available for students to read. Read my previous post to learn more. I also have Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda and a class book that the students wrote based on A Quiet Place .


5. Pinwheels 

Read this previous post  to learn more.

6. Greenery

I think a natural element in this space is important. It is grounding to connect to nature.

7. Lovies

Each student brought in a personal item to keep on the shelf in the Relaxation Station. It is amazing that a hard day can be remedied by a soft hug from your favorite stuffed animal. I also have my “lovie” on prominent display, which is a stuffed animal my son had when he was little.

8. Isolation Headphones 

I used these noise canceling headphones a few years ago with an autistic student. When I put them on to try them, I was blown away by their calming effect. Think about going underwater and hearing all sounds take on a muffled quality. These are in the station for students to use, and I have noticed that students almost always opt to use them. It makes your breathing amplified and is incredibly grounding.


9. Yoga Mat

While a mat is not essential, it is important that students have a small amount of room to move. It can be counterproductive if your “Take a Break” corner has only a sitting option. Movement is necessary for regulation.

10. Sphere

Of course, the cornerstone of our Move Mindfully breath work. Each corner should have a sphere that will encourage belly breathing.

At least once a week, I try to use the Relaxation Station as well. In the beginning I’d hear whispers, “Look- Mrs. Kennelly is doing Yoga!” Now, it hardly gets noticed. At first, I was doing it for my students- to be a model. However, now… I notice that I am a better teacher after my break! I have more patience, more energy and a positive attitude. I have even started using the last two minutes of my prep to do the Calming Routine before I pick up my class from specialists.

Do you use a Relaxation Station? Please leave a comment below!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly