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Jelly Jar Resolution: God Bless It.

Shadow Self

In the 1970’s I developed the horrible habit of saying “I’m sorry”… it became a habit of speech that I used daily and unconsciously until a friend got out a jelly jar and started insisting I put a quarter in every time I said it.

Now, in my tired end-of-the-day moments (like when the dishwasher fails again while I have company visiting) I find myself muttering angrily under my breath, “G*D*MNIT” a little too frequently for my comfort.

As I sat in meditation this morning I had a vision of myself as a child wincing at the angry old people feared:  They said stuff like this all the time and although it wasn’t even directed at me (just at life in general) it stung and hurt and made the world seem malignant. I then reflected on the happier more Buddha-like older adults I knew and realized that instead of “G*D*MNIT” they said, “God Bless It” with a smile and a shrug.

How did I turn into this angry older person that I feared as a child?  Well, there’s fierce power in curse words.  I once read a study that suggested that if you reserve curse words for particularly painful moments (think hammer on thumbnail) it actually helps to numb the pain.

However, everyday moments are not in the same category as a thumb smashed by a hammer and now that I’ve recognized this in myself, I see it’s my choice another jelly jar moment.

“Once said, never unsaid”  Words hang in the ether.  Will I continue to pollute? It’s resolution time, baby. Go.

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Falling with Grace Workshop Scheduled for…when else…? This Fall.

Hey, so looks like I’m tentatively going to run my Falling with Grace Workshop this Sept. 27th at 2:00-4:30 at Yoga Tree in Berkeley.

In the meantime, I want to run some free classes for my friends to test run my curriculum.  If you are an Alameda local, stay tuned or go like my Facebook page to get on a list.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alameda-Young-Yoga-Falling-With-Grace/252166368251035?ref=hl

 

 

 

Posted in yoga

C.L.A.W.S. Today

As part of our black belt program, I have developed a class I call, “C.L.A.W.S.©”

This class is to help our kids bridge the gap from being students to being guides, mentors, leaders, and future instructors.

When I was a young girl I took classes at a Carole’s Dance Theatre in Lakewood, CA.  I adored my instructors, Carole Leyba (Thompson), Debbie Fishman, and Anita Morales.  I took as many classes as my mom could afford, and when I was old enough I helped at the studio answering the phone, assisting in classes, and watching Carole teach.

It was a heaven and a respite from the bullying I suffered through in 7th grade at the hands of Lisa Zadow and her gang of nasty white supremacist friends. (Is it a surprise I got into martial arts all these years later?)

Over the years I’ve watched kids rise in rank and seen two distinct camps, the natural performers who seem to thrive in the spotlight and the more reticent students who assume their role is in the chorus in the background.  They all have one thing in common, though, they all looked up to and idolized the older teens who helped them to learn material.  I noticed that even the kids who seemed to naturally “get it” that is, how to help, how to be “under the wire” but still very useful, could still use a few pointers and some straightforward cues about what we expect from our junior assistants.  I decided, however, that every student deserved a chance to shine and that maybe all it took was some plain and simple instructions about how to help.

After small six week rotations, just under a year of training kids ages 9-12, we are thrilled.   Each kid surprises us with their desire to help and be engaged.  Even the reticent ones who doubt they will like it, beam up at me and say, “that was really fun!”

Ultimately, I’m getting exactly what I was hoping for, a way to make kids slow down, think about the process of learning in order to help themselves learn and appreciate how far their skills have come….

Me n my Stoic Rott

For example…CLAWS students learn one of the 1st principles of effective instruction:  “Tell. Show. Do”    Sometimes the most “show-off-y” kid with amazing athleticism will really struggle with the verbal explanation of the nuances of the movement while another student will have great insight into a  movement.  Sometimes the most shy and unassuming kids will step right up and take control of the room in a way I had never seen before, thus inspiring me to strive to bring out more of this inner tiger.

Today was the first day of a new session and we discussed the ABCs of CLAWS:

A= Attune to the Room.  Your job is to help move the class forward and to help Sir to keep the show going with minimal distractions.  If Sir is asking everyone to zoom around the room, demonstrate that with enthusiasm.  If Sir is asking everyone to sit at the mirror, say “Yes Sir!” with gusto then sit appropriately awaiting instructions.

B= Be a Beacon.  The younger students and parents of those students see you acting appropriately at all times.  That means no bored distracted looks, no finger nail picking, no hair twisting, just a model young martial artist.

C= Correct Quietly.  Sir’s voice is the loudest in the room, your role in CLAWS is to quietly correct behavior by sitting next to the student, whispering softly and demonstrating the correct behavior.  In JAWS class we will learn how to be the Junior Assistant and a verbal leader.

I told everyone the importance of arriving early to claim the space as their own.  New students will feel that they are walking into your space and will be more likely to listen to your instructions.

I also talked about how to greet students.  If they are shy and reticent, go to one knee (get down to their level) and tell them your name.  Explain that you are here to help and that you look forward to having fun together.  If they are rambunctious and confident, be assertive, say  welcome and lead them in.

During the class my helpers did a great job.  They were warm, affable, conscientious and enthusiastic .

After class I gave the kids some pointers  on how to say your name during introductions (a little louder and maybe lower your voice for authority) and how to spot somersaults.  I got their feedback, and we made plans for the next week.

All and all, a great program addition for the school.  If you received an invite, please consider bringing your child.

Posted in yoga

You Tube= Your Trapezius

Another mnemonic to help with stiff neck…Every time you punch up YouTube think: “Your Traps” then lower and draw back your shoulder blades.  “Traps” refers to Trapezius muscles, which do a lot of things especially lift your shoulders up to your ears.

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Student Topic: Mindful Consumption of Water

IMG_6137

Have you ever thought about precisely how much water you want/need to drink during a quick break from training?  We provide very small paper dixie cups (2oz) and often we see kids fill the cup, take a tiny sip, then toss the rest into the trash.  It’s a tiny amount, but multiplied by many kids, it adds up to a swampy mess in the can.

Why?  Carelessness, obliviousness, and a hurried attitude contribute to this small waste of a precious resource.

Left to their own impulses, the kids tend to clump at the spigot, gulping water in a pushy fashion.  If we are busy setting up the next drill, we don’t always notice, but “lining up for a water break” is an activity I expect CLAWS and JAWS students to organize for the younger students.

In general when the kids line up for a drink I instruct them to pour a cup, then move to the back to drink allowing the next child to fill.  I instruct them that after they have drunk a full glass, they can return to the faucet if they need more.  Mostly the kids realize they need only a cupful and race back into the room.

Last night Erik asked the kids to only take as much as they needed…to measure carefully, and if they poured too much, to at least pour the water back into the drain.  This is all a natural outcome of getting curious about water consumption during the drought.  Erik challenged me at home to gauge the amount of coffee I drink each morning and to strive to pour only the absolute least I need to make that amount.  I had always poured water to the 4 cup line, but now I realize I can pour to the 3 cup line and have nothing left in the pot.

This week I’ll challenge the kids to test it out.  How much water fits precisely in your mouth?  How much when you are huffing and puffing from exercise?  I won’t be surprised if we have a few gulply chokes and bug eyes.

I’ll instruct them to use the sip of water as more than a quick break from training, but also a (can I say it?) sacred connection to the planet.  When we re-fill our cup (or our body) we ready ourselves to serve.  Can you take just enough?