Laura Borg and I have a history with Cass Street School, especially Laura. This (2013) is Laura’s 4th year at Cass, and my 2nd. We both have a fondness for the first and second graders, and the 2 teachers. We are familiar with the principal, Mr. Nichols, who is very supportive of the yoga program for the younger children. Mindful Yoga lost funding at the end of last year. I was so moved by the passion Mrs. Marie Hernandez, first grade teacher, had for the program, and how upset she was at the loss of the program. I found out that Om Town Yogis had grants to give, and I pursued. Mrs. Hernandez was so excited at the prospect of the 2 of us returning.
Mrs. Hernandez noticed that Mindful Yoga, in fact, led to calmer, more focused children in the classroom. We felt a huge commitment to Mindful Yoga, and our classes began in December 2013, following 10 weeks of Mindfulness sessions with the 2 first grades.
Our students are 2 classes of 18 First Grade children and 2 very supportive 1st grade teachers: Mrs. Marie Hernandez and Mrs. Karina Surprise. Our students are inner city “free lunch” children.
We have seen improvement in the children’s ability to focus, knowing the poses we practice, and the ability to move between movement and stillness seamlessly. We are impressed w/ their ability to retain and verbalize the yoga and mindfulness vocabulary: finesse, grace, mindfulness, core, center, anchor, for example; and the body parts we speak of while we practice: ribs, lungs, thighs, shins, calves, spine, heart, shoulders, heels, and ankles, for instance. The children are grasping the concept of deep inhalations and exhalations, especially in our weekly sun salutations that we practice every class we teach. Some days a student starts the class in a bad mood, or is unfocused, and by the end of class we have a happy and focused child ready to listen and participate in our practice. The mindful listening part of each class too is amazing. I ring a chime that resonates in the room for some time, and the children raise their hands when the chime sound ends. It is completely quiet in the room for this exercise. An outstanding moment comes at the close of the class in rest pose, as we walk around the room placing eye pillows over our students’ eyes. Pure pleasure, quiet and calm. There has been a transformation in the Mindful Yoga practice every Monday and Wednesday.