Pre-exam yoga practise

Exam practise

Things to do before exams

1. Sleep well (follow steps below)
2. switch off any screens at least an hour before bed
3. don’t drink coffee or alcohol or eat sugar after supper ( even better, avoid them altogether if you can)
4. have a hot bath with lavender or chamomile essential oils before bed
5. massage yourself slowly with warm (pop it on the radiator) almond oil with lavender drops (failing that, both olive oil and sesame oil that you get from the food shop are fine)
6. have a chamomile/limegrass/valerian tea 1 hour before bed
7. eat a regular times and sleep at regular times, bed around 10 and up at around 6/7
8. make sure your room is cool and clean with fresh air and your bed is warm and clean
9. read something inspiring before bed for a few minutes
10. Ujjayi breath for 10 minutes in the evening.

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Soul Food

On our Teenyoga courses, the students often ask me, “how come you are so passionate about yoga for young people?”

The answer is simple, “ When we observe such suffering and we have a solution, why would we not offer it?”

In Book 2:16 of Patanjalis Sutras, it is written ” Heyam DUhkham anagatam” “The result of yoga is to avoid future suffering”. I truly believe and experience on a daily basis the beneficial impact that the yoga philosophy, meditation practise and integrated yoga practise has on my life and on the lives of the young people I reach out to. I see it in my own classes and hear it reported through the 450 students who have taken my course and are now teaching in schools, the PRU and within CAMHS and all over the world which amounts to at least 7000 young people.

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How Yoga has changed Teenagers’ Behaviour

 “Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will steer our life and we will call it fate “ Carl Jung.

Many teachers and parents sigh and roll their eyes when the teenager grunts and stomps. Bad behaviour! Bad attitude! Disengaged! The desire to manage behaviour and create an optimal learning environment is every teacher’s first aim, without it, learning cannot take place. In yoga, as in many pedagogical circles, we subscribe to Carl Roger’s (father of modern psychology) axiom of “unconditional positive regard”. There is a belief that when we see the divine/light/goodness in the person in front of us, they will shift and change accordingly. (The greeting Namaste is an example of this – we strive to see the godly nature of everyone at all times). This ties in nicely with the psychology concept of labelling, when we label a pupil as clever, intelligent or the opposite, stupid or slow – they tend to respond to the label.

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Why do one in ten children in the UK suffer from a mental disorder?

I heard a story – an anthropologist went to study the songs of the Huichol Indians and found that they were almost all about rain. She asked the chief, “why is this?” The chief responded, “We sing about what we long for, what we miss and what we need. That is our yearning and our song. Why do you think people in the West just sing about love?”

In the UNICEF report card 11 (2011), the UK came 16th in a list of 29 developed countries in measures of well being.

Obesity is at an all time high, and self-harm is rising at an alarming rate.

The long awaited report from The Department of Health, Future in Mind, was published on the 20th March 2015 and looks at how we can promote, protect and improve young people’s resilience to stress and wellbeing generally.

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Let their voice be heard!

What would a conference about yoga, education and welllbeing among young people be, without their voice?

We would like anyone working with young people to encourage them to send in a one minute video answering three simple questions:

  1. How does yoga affect your life?
  2. How could it affect your life more?
  3. Would you like more yoga in school, if so, how?

And send the answers in to me at charlottayogi@me.com – for the chance of winning an ipad mini!

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#Broga

 
This week I asked my boys why they do yoga, #broga!

My year 8 yoga class (12 yr old boys) is entirely made up of boys, more and more each week. Noisy, rambunctious and lippy, they take about 10 minutes to calm down. I am used the crazy chat by now, the giggling, the shoving and the teasing comes as par for the course.

Suddenly from being cute little kids, their voices have dropped, their shoulders broadened and they are perceived as thugs in the eyes of society, reflecting our own brutish nature, projecting it onto these relatively innocent boys.

And then comes the calm – how are you today?

“My girlfriend broke up with me”
“My chemistry teacher told me off”

“I hurt my leg in rugby”
“I have a big match tomorrow and I am worried about my knee”

“I feel so tired, can we just do yoga sleep?”

Then the class commences, the chaotic, arm balances, spontaneous partner work, until finally they beg for mercy, they beg for the peace of yoga nidra, like babies, the crawl down onto their mats, checking each other out – slowly letting go of the expectations, the constant judgment and assessments and let go…..the most beautiful point of my day and of their week, it seems.

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The Revolution is here!

Teaching young people yoga, sometimes I am aware of a clash between my values and the values of the school or the establishment I am teaching in.

I suggest to my students the ideas of collaboration vs competition, love vs fear, self care vs pushing the boundaries. Sometimes I have to be careful how I do this. Our whole society is built on fear of failure, of poverty, of loneliness and of illness (among other things) and so school emulates this and echoes these values. Yoga professes the opposite, if you have love, if you trust and believe and see others as your equal or even as yourself, all will be well with the world, in fact, all is well with the world.

The kids often come in hungry to prove something, a posture, a piece of clothing, a victory. Noisy, uncomfortable, rajasic. After the first relaxation, the noise has abated somewhat, but there is still this vibe of “look at me!”, the noisy ego and the fun, joyful child which emerges in me too!

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What are the benefits of yoga to teens?

As practitioners ourselves, we know only all to well, how yoga can assuage feelings of anxiety, calm our nerves and generally uplift us. Why would it be any different for young people?

This was my thought as I calmly and confidently strode into my first yoga class for teens ten years ago and was met by a battlefield of flying mats and falling trees!

The precious gift that I had discovered and was desperate to share with others, was being denigrated and thrown out before even being discovered. I had a choice – walk out and never come back or persevere. I chose the latter. I wonder why? Because somewhere deep inside me I knew these kids really needed it. They were stressed out, anxious, hyper and unable to cope, let alone focus or concentrate. How to apply yoga to these guys?

This became my focus and my sole purpose in the following months and years, to create a way to apply yoga to 13-16 year olds specifically, as this seemed to present a veritable “dark night of the soul”. The input and insights of fellow yogis, psychologists, educators, doctors, osteopaths and physiotherapists developed the present course, which is presented worldwide.

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Inclusion

Better than, more gifted, more flexible, less able, more friendly, less sociable, ADHD< Aspergers, dyspraxic, dyslexic…….

On and on these labels, “help” teachers and parents to differentiate in a class, categorising and measuring outcomes, people, products.

As OfSted looks at “inclusion”, and we take side glances at Finlands’ non-streaming, all inclusive successful and happy school system, it strikes me how aptly yoga fits into these categories.

Are we not all looking to belong, to connect, to be part of a whole? Where does this longing come from? It comes from within, yoga says, it is your brithright, it is the truth, this connection, that you may feel on a forest walk or in the midst of a giggling fit with your best friend, or in a big group of friends, on a roller coaster, as you scream together. This is the truth of human existence.

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Inclusion in Schools

“Better than…”, “More gifted…”, “More flexible…”, “More friendly…”… do these terms sound like advertising?

There are worse labels though:

“Less able…”, “Less sociable…”, ADHD, Aspergers, dyspraxic, dyslexic…….

Apparently these endless labels “help” teachers and parents to differentiate learners in a class, categorising and measuring outcomes, people, products. They may however just oversimplify the diversity.

As OfSted looks at “inclusion”, and we take side glances at Finland’s non-streaming, all inclusive, successful and happy school system, I wonder how these categories really help, and how they may relate to yoga.

Are we not all looking to belong, to connect, to be part of a whole? Where does this longing come from? It comes from within, yoga says, it is your birthright, it is the truth, this connection, that you may feel on a forest walk or in the midst of a giggling fit with your best friend, or in a big group of friends, on a roller coaster, as you scream together. This is the truth of human existence.

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