Part One: Take altitude so you have an healthier attitude
So summer has come to an end, and you’re back at it; teaching tomorrow’s future. You start the school year on a positive note. You are rested, organized and ready for action. You have had time to get your hair tinted, a few new outfits, the tires rotated and the house is definitely much cleaner. Unfortunately, soon this feeling of newness and organization falls by the wayside. Before long, you’re dragging your rear end trying to keep up with endless obligations and deadlines. You are now addicted to several cups of coffee a day and copious amounts of sugar to help you get through countless interruptions and to do’s, multi tasking your way through insane requests and overwhelming classes that may in fact be from hell or even worse, a commedia troupe. Before long the circles under your eyes darken, your feet swell, your shoulders become like rocks and your mind is racing out of control.
Sound familiar? It may be an exaggeration but unfortunately as educators we know this scenario all too well. I’ve been teaching children and youth for over 25 years and yes it can be an insane ride. So I’ve decided to embark on a mission, an assessment evaluation if you will. I call it “Be You – Be Well or you ain’t gonna make it to retirement”.
For me the technique I have discovered that makes semester one and two go so much better is as old as the hills, well almost. I practice yoga and meditation every day. Yes that’s right, EVERY DAY. My wellness practice can be as little as 15 minutes to up to 1 hour before work, the last 5 minutes of my prep period, something I do with my classes and sometimes 5 to 30 minutes before bed. To keep me really grounded, sane and healthy I teach yoga in the community once a week. What can I say? It helps me be a better person because I’m calmer, relatively healthy and most importantly relaxed. The day’s craziness is still there but I can rise above it. I take “altitude”, as my guru would say, so that I have a healthier attitude.
I’m writing this article series for three reasons; to dispel some modern day myths about yoga and meditation; to explain why I think yoga & meditation is so important for our schools and to look at current thinking that support this claim; to give you some simple and effective yoga & meditation practices that help you and your classes be well.
Staying balanced throughout our hectic work life begins with learning practices that directly impact our inner landscape. The sense of instability and insecurity we are feeling in the economy and the environment will only amplify if we do not take time to find peace and stability within ourselves. Being the change starts with practices that help us see the broader picture in any situation and give us the stamina and will to follow through and be well doing it. A regular practice of yoga and meditation can do this. It’s easy and it works.
Take a moment now, sit up straight, close your eyes, place your hands on your lap, palms facing down and focus on the breath. Breathe in and out slowly. Breathe from your belly instead of your upper chest. Mentally scan you body as you are breathing. With each exhale relax any tension. Move your awareness from the top of the head to the tips of your toes. On the exhale feel the tension releasing and on the inhale feel your body filling with light. Continue for 1 to 3 minutes.