A few months ago, I was tasked with writing a piece on kids mental health for the Rhode Island Health & fitness magazine. For years, I have been practicing yoga, coloring and mediation for stress management. Throughout that time, I started sharing my experience with my son. Not only was my stress a little less “stressful” to manage, but so was my sons. Kids are not impervious to stress. So, my article began to write itself in my mind and it turned into a cover story and one I am so proud of. You can read my full article here: Helping Kids Stress Less and Live More.
When I started combining yoga, coloring and visualization into my son’s routine (weekly) I started to see a difference. Even for myself, the change was almost instant. After a quick yoga session or 15 minutes of coloring I instantly felt alive, awakened and an overwhelming sense of calm. This was the type of euphoria I was longing for as I sufferer of anxiety and depression most of my life. Yoga, coloring and meditation are just 3 more tools in the toolbox for coping with stress.
When I was editing my article, I realized that this would make a great program in schools. And then as quickly as the thought popped into my head, it went away. I never thought I would have the courage to branch out that way. About a month after I finished writing and sent the article to the editor, it was published. I received such great feedback. I truly believe the more tools we have at a younger age for combating stress, the easier it gets to recognize our bodies responses and what we can do to help ourselves.
Since the response was so great, I decided to take a leap of faith and present it to my son’s school. I grabbed the thought from the back of mind and J.O.Y.S Yoga Workshop (Journal Out Your Stress) was formed. And let me tell you it has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. It has helped me overcome some of my own anxieties’ and fears. The kids (all 15 of them) are so unique and so enthusiastic. We have one session left and they are already asking to sign up for more. Bless their hearts.
I spent 2 1/2 months planning the curriculum. Every session has a different theme and I make sure all activities follow suit, which was only capable by doing the research and putting the time in.
Beginning: Basic stretches and welcomes
Topic: Sleep and Relaxation: How do you feel when you can’t sleep? What do you do? Breathe? Visualize things? Stretch? We discuss our feelings as a group.
Yoga Postures: Go over 6 poses that help calm and are proven to help you sleep better. Invite a child up to teach with me.
Journal Prompt: C.A.L.M picture with the 1.2.3 breathe exercise
GAME: Walking Meditation: A simple way for kids to really be present and feel what it is like to be calm, hear calm, think calming thoughts…
Ending: Sun salutation; reduces the feeling of restlessness and anxiety. Hand out sun salutation paper in class to practice at home.
Of course, the children are the reason I am doing this, so I listen to the cues they give me. I might spend more time on something and skip something all together. I have made slight adjustments here and there. The kids asked for more journaling right from the beginning so I added an extra journal prompt. I am thankful for this opportunity to share my experience with them. I am grateful for their open minds and willingness to share their own feelings with me. I look forward to our final session and can’t wait to share a full report of the program when it is all said and done.
The light within me honors the light within you!