Thursday, September 18, 2008

"The teacher in my heart". Yoga, meditation and other lovely relaxing things to do with children.

“Georgie will take your children on fun-filled journeys through forests, oceans and jungles. They will fly like butterflies, roar like lions, dance like monkeys or grow from tiny seeds to big beautiful trees. And as they do, they will gain a sense of peace, grounding, self-love and self-confidence. Parents or nannies are welcome to join in the fun!”

This was the ad I wrote for my yoga classes for three to five year olds at Jemima’s school. And I admit that as I wrote it a bit of me wondered whether it would really turn out to be true… how much could yoga really benefit children? Would they really enjoy it?

Three lessons later and there’s not a doubt in my mind. Yoga for kids is simply brill! I am amazed at how the children respond. Not so much to the games and fun because all children love that. But the way they lie down at the end and slowly start to chill out, the time they stay there quietly studying the ceiling or with closed eyes... yoga really does seem to bring them a sense of peace and well-being. During the meditation (I am brave, I am bold, my own spirit I can hold!) there is no stopping them. They really get into it and the looks of belief or concentration on some of their faces are so heartfelt and earnest it makes me feel like crying.

Of course they all mess around and it gets noisy – just as it should. They get really excited as we go on our different adventures and it is quite knackering to teach! But they seem to go so easily from something really active, like swimming like a mermaid, to being very still in child’s pose, as tiny shells. One girl says she does it every morning with her mother now. When I asked if anyone could remember why we sing a special song to begin the class the same girl said: "To greet the teacher in my heart". She was right, but expressed it way better than I ever did! Jemima keeps telling me she wants to do yoga in the mornings so her muscles don’t hurt so much next week. It definitely makes them aware of their bodies and breath and gives them ways to use their breath to control their mood and feelings. So lovely to see.

It’s great having Jemima in the class. She asks me to plan the class around a particular thing- usually fairies or mermaids – and then tells me what yoga pose to use. You can imagine this. Jemima wobbling about in some strange, twisted posture, saying:

“Teach that one Mummy!”

“Urm, ok! But how about doing it a bit more like this?” I respond, while desperately trying to think of an actual yoga pose that looks remotely like her bodily creation. My changes don’t always go down so well but I am just pleased she’s happy to do it with me. I have made it very clear she can take it or leave it as I was worried she would start to resent yoga now that it is such a big part of my life. But so far she seems to be enjoying it. As for Bella, well everything she does with her body looks like yoga to me. I am constantly amazed how bendy she is (makes me realise how quickly Jemima's nearly four year old body is already stiffening up now that she has to sit on chairs etc..)

It is lovely to find ways of doing it all with them so that it does not always take me away from them. And this brings me to our new bedtime arrangement, one I am seriously happy about.

Until now every night either James or I lie with Jemima while she falls asleep. It is something we have always done – or at least since I was pregnant, when I was glad of the power nap that got me through the rest of the evening! But lately both we’ve started to get impatient and wanting to get on with things we need or want to do while they are asleep. One of these things is preparing for yoga classes and my own practice. I have been aware for ages that I hardly ever find the time to meditate on my own despite teaching meditation being a part of my new found career! But there never seemed a quiet moment apart from early, early morning.. ahem.. I am not there yet. And then it struck me – my brilliant idea which has been making me and Jemima so happy ever since. Now, every night after stories and lights out I sit on her floor with a candle and meditate while she curls up in bed and watches me. I get my half an hour of peace and meditation practice and Jemima gets to fall asleep by candle light with a lovely calm energy around her. I feel less distracted because I know that she is happy (Bella’s normally already asleep at this time) and that I am doing something for her as well as me. And it becomes so much of my routine that for the first time in my life I am meditating every day. Perfect. Love it.

While we are on about yoga and relaxing and what not here is a recipe for yogi tea – very yummy and, a little diluted, also great for soothing teething babies and good for children generally.

Yogi tea – too many benefits to list but see a few below...

To 2 quarts of water add:
15 whole cloves – good for nervous system
20 green cardamom pods slightly crushed – digestive aid
15 black pepper corns – blood purifier
5 2inch sticks of cinnamon – strengthens the bones
8 slices of ginger root – healing for colds, flu, natural antibiotic, energising

Boil gently for 30-40 mins adding water as evaporates. Add ½ teaspoon black tea (creates right chemical balance with rest of ingredients) and drink black or with milk, hot or iced, with honey to sweeten if necessary

Makes 2 quarts

And here, if you will excuse the note form, is a copied and pasted bit of an email to the breastfeeding group summarising all the things we came up with for relaxing with baby/child while breastfeeding or not.

Relaxing with baby - both of you!

Skin to skin - not only feeding but baths together, co-sleeping/napping, sling
Carry baby in sling as much as poss - some skin on skin if poss
Soothing music - same each time - (I have lots of relaxation music use for yoga)
Chamomile in bath or oil burner and chamomile tea for mother (chamomile tea also v nice bottom wash instead of wipes when at home)
Candles, lavender
Meditate before (can recommend a simple 3 min meditation for a calm heart)
Relax baby before feeds - bath together, play your music, massage him (lavender & chamomile and olive oil), curl up in special place...
Calm thoughts while feeding - whatever you say to your baby, they know what's going on inside! Try reading to him - even if it is an adult book you find inspiring, or make up a story, or tell the story of his life so far, hum, sing to him, long deep breathing etc...
Drink lots and lots of water - when dehydrated we become easily stressed and anxious.


Ann-Marie Dewhurst said...

What a wonderful post. It brought tears to my eyes imagining the calm, candlelit room. What a lovely way to go to sleep. Don't feel guilty about looking after your family. Remember the details...and the big picture paints itself. xxx

Georgie said...

Thank you for another lovely comment! I love your picture! Is that an ergo??? xx

Ann-Marie Dewhurst said...

Girosol wrap...mind you, I'm loving podaegi's atm! I'm attempting to make one..eek!

Maaike said...

Georgie ... I SOOOOOO miss your posts! Ah!
Love Maaike

Georgie said...

Ah bless you so do I! Internet been down for weeks and us all ill now have internet and health back and will hopefully find some time too! How are you? xxx

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