Students are encouraged to use the yoga room as a quiet place to relax. It is a unique space away from competition or daily demands where we can look inward and become aware of our physical, mental and emotional state. This can be a challenge as we come in from busy mornings and journeys to college however, students are getting better at making this shift to quiet, mental stillness and self awareness.
During our physical yoga practise students are encouraged to let their mental focus stay with their breath so that it becomes a moving meditation, not just developing physical strength and mobility but also concentration and self awareness. This can be a challenge for energetic teenagers but there is clear progress here.
Our yoga practise has adopted some of the wisdom of ancient medical beliefs;that we are affected by the changing energy of the seasons. We have continued with our usual sun salutes, standing poses, balances and sitting poses which improve strength, mobility and flexibility but added a seasonal slant. Autumn is a time of year when we tend to be susceptible to coughs and colds. We have worked to support the immune system through gentle twists that help to improve digestion and in turn, our absorption of nutrients and poses that help to open the chest keeping the lungs healthy.
This autumn we have focused on the practice of letting go of what no longer serves us (just like the trees!) and paying attention to all that we have ‘harvested’ or achieved since the spring. It has been an opportunity to reflect on where we are in our lives, what is no longer useful to us whether a material item, an unhelpful habit or way of thinking rather than looking at our ‘to do’ list and feeling overwhelmed, taking some time to be aware of all that is ticked on our ‘done’ list. This is something we often fail to do as adults, so feel frustrated by our sense of our shortcomings rather than grateful and pleased with our achievements. By paying attention to these simple things we are teaching our students to live more mindfully.
Moving into the cooler winter months we have discussed what we can do to look after both our mental and physical health. While some of us seem impervious to the cold, others can feel the effects of the colder and shorter days, not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. We have included poses that can help alleviate any feelings of the ‘winter blues’.
Students have been encouraged to take responsibility for their health and to remember the importance of rest, good nutrition, exercise and relaxation. We all deserve a little nurturing hibernation time in the winter, especially our students that are very active in training and competition.
At the end of each practise we rest in ‘sivasana’, lying flat on our backs, covered by a warm blanket. This is still the favourite part of the practise for all our students and clearly indicates the need they have to rest and relax. As a yoga teacher it makes me happy to see a room full of teenagers learning the all important life skill of actively and consciously relaxing both physically and mentally.
The yoga room is now booked out each day by students who would like to do some more yoga. With the permission of their teachers, students can come alone or with a group and depending on their needs, choose to do some meditation, some physical yoga or simply relax.