We often envision a mindful practice or meditation exercises as a still and static experience, but that is not always the case. Mindfulness is the state of being conscious. Thus, becoming aware of our movements can be a part of our practice making movement a method for mindfulness and a tool for meditation.
In a meditation practice, we bring attention to our breath. Breath is the core of movement. When we focus on our breath, we are focusing on the movement of oxygen into and out of our body. We recognize the expansion of our diaphragm and lungs and the hollowing and contraction of our core muscles. As an automatic process of the body, you can get by with a tacit awareness of the movement caused by breathing. However, bringing intentional focus to this predominantly imperceptible movement offers many benefits including a greater sense of self-compassion and a more refined ability to deal comfortably with tension or unexpected occurrences as well as a reduction of stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and fatigue.
Below is a list of four mindful movement practices designed for children that benefit teachers, too! These examples represent activities suitable for a variety of ages ranging from preschool to upper-elementary grade levels. Teachers love to use these resources in the classroom, but you can use them as inspiration for your own creative movement practice as well. Create your own movement ritual for self-care, or create one together as a class for self-regulation, awareness, and relaxation during the school day.
Relaxing Brain Dance by BTSArts Dance Educator, Courtni Giles
The Brain Dance, created by Anne Green Gilbert, is a full-body and brain exercise that incorporates developmental movement patterns that healthy human beings naturally move through in the first year of life. By reviewing these brain-developing movement patterns we experienced as children, we keep our brains and bodies strong. Because this dance helps to reorganize, oxygenate, and recuperate the brain, this dance can be used as a warm-up for physical activity, a centering or grounding exercise before tests or performances, a rejuvenating movement cycle after sitting for long periods of time, or incorporated as a regular practice to increase energy and reduce stress. This version of the brain dance was created by Courtni Giles, a BTSArts Dance Educator in St. George, Utah. Subscribe to her YouTube channel to discover more variations on the brain dance.
Mindful Movement Curriculum for Early Childhood Education
Lisa Thomas Prince, an outreach specialist with the Center for Healthy Minds, shares a mindful body movement curriculum to promote well-being in young learners (ages 4-6). This series of mindfulness and kindness activities benefit children’s attentional skills, ability to manage their emotions and bodies, as well as prosocial and sharing behaviors with their classmates.
Cosmic Kids Yoga and Peace Out Meditation Series
Meditating along with mindful movement practices like yoga brings benefits to our lives such as reducing stress and anxiety, lifting our mood, reducing anger, activating empathy, and improving social connection. The Cosmic Kids Peace Out series, geared toward kids aged five and above, encourages a peaceful, kind, and mindful way of being. In the video linked above, kids practice Friendly Wishes, a guided meditation focusing on loving kindness. Like water ripples on a lake’s surface, our kind thoughts find their way out into the world and make it a better place.
Mindful Mirroring Activity from The Inner Kids Program
In this video, taken in an LA classroom that implements elements of the Inner Kids mindfulness program, Annaka Harris leads students in a mindful mirroring activity. The Inner Kids principles work for adults too, and incorporate fun, pragmatic practices that bring attention, balance, and compassion to your daily routine by teaching universal themes that promote a wise and compassionate worldview. The Inner Kids curriculum also fosters the development of six crucial social, emotional, and academic life skills that develop a gentle, steady capacity to recognize and regulate emotions. A mandala-style visual of these skills can be found below:
*Top image credit: https://twitter.com/mindfulonline/status/774940815370117121
This blog post was written by Heather Francis, BYU ARTS Partnership Research and Development Coordinator, and Hanna Gemperline, Social Media Manager. They share a love for dance, community arts, and education. Heather likes math, Hanna doesn’t.
Tags: @courtnisworld @innerkids @susankaisergreenland @cosmickidsyoga @healthy.mind
To support the well-being of teachers, Cally Flox will be hosting a class: Resilience for Teachers: Learning to Thrive Instead of Survive. The class is specifically designed for participants and past participants in the BYU ARTS Partnership programs, but is open to everyone. Get details and sign up at this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resilience-for-teachers-learning-to-thrive-instead-of-survive-tickets-115098408438.