Archive for July, 2015

Yoga in Our Schools

Friday, July 24th, 2015

 


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         I am proud to say that Dr. John A. Provost is our superintendent.  He asked the above question in a letter sent to all Northampton Public School employees, welcoming us to the new school year last August.  I was so struck by the depth and importance of this question that I wrote it up on a piece of paper, filled it with color, and hung it in my home yoga studio.  Now a mantra for me, it guides me daily in my work with children.  It is a question that, even after an entire year of quiet asking, still takes my breath away.
        Dr. Provost also wrote in his letter about the “social emotional gap” and the need to “work to develop students who are not only smart but also resilient and empathetic”.  Karuna in Sanskrit means compassion and anyone who has held Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Dog, for any length of time knows the importance of resilience.  Our practice of yoga at Karuna begins with a happy engagement in every pose.  It continues by being sensitive to the beauty of our mind, body, and breath connections.  It moves us towards virtue.  As one’s practice deepens, it profoundly changes the way a person feels and helps them to thrive in the challenge of life. This is true for anyone who practices yoga in a mindful way, no matter their age.
        Many students struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and even trauma.  It is my job, as a Tiered Support Specialist, to give these children the special support they need to be successful in our public schools.  The nectar of my yoga practice nourishes my ability to be strong and patient.  I sow seeds of strength and plant pods of patience in my students through mindful activities, precise movements, and specific breathing techniques.  I believe that yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in our schools can help our students to blossom as happy, socially engaged students who are more sensitive to beauty and more capable of virtue.
        Please join me in our quest to make yoga more accessible to children and to the people who care for them at   rebeca@loveyogatogrow.com

rebeca in sidhasanaRebeca Allessi is a graduate of the 200-hour Karuna Yoga Teacher Training Program and is certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga in the schools, grades K – 8.  She is currently a Tiered Support Specialist at Jackson Street School and Bridge Street School here in Northampton.  She is also enrolled in Eileen’s 300-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Loft in Albany. She has been a public school classroom teacher for over 20 years and has been taught the importance of truth and kindness by her hundreds of students. Rebeca is drawn to the Karuna community as a place where she can find inner peace and meaningful growth. She is dedicated to bringing the transformative power of the Eight Limb Path of yoga to people of all ages and abilities.

Yoga for Kids

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Recently I was asked to photograph a class of elementary school students at Karuna. I met them in the entrance and watched them race up the stairs, excited to see their teacher, Rebeca Allessi, for about an hour of yoga.

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They were let into the studio in small groups, a method to mediate the high energy and excitement among them. They each had a mat waiting and, as they filed into the room, I could hardly imagine the practice of stillness that I find on my mat translating to these energized little bodies. I thought to myself; Rebecca has quite a task in front of her!

Yoga for kids is different than it is for adults. Movement is essential to the practice and engagement for kids comes far more through doing than contemplating. It was moving to watch the children embarking into this practice and inspiring to see how Rebecca was able to  help them harness their energy rather than stifle it. Each time Rebecca played the Shruti box they responded by getting into child’s pose, finding a moment for stillness.IMG_3547

The students have been practicing with Rebecca at their school over the past year. They know the names of poses, songs, sequences, and some games that introduce the practice of mindfulness. They transition from movement into stillness impressively and, just like many of us, are grateful for moments of rest.

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By the end of the class there was so much sweetness and softness in the room. It was moving to watch the children practice. Kids seem so naturally open and receptive to expressions of love and this, in my opinion, makes yoga a great outlet for young people. Rebeca teaches a kids Yoga class is on Wednesdays 4-5 starting back up this September.

-Erin McNally

Please enjoy the gallery of images from class and check out the upcoming workshops with Rebeca Yoga For Parents and Teachers, teaching methods to “discover how your own yoga and mindfulness practice can be the most effective way to help the young people in your life to find focus, manage stress, and increase emotional regulation”.

 

rebeca in sidhasanaRebeca Allessi is a graduate of the 200-hour Karuna Yoga Teacher Training Program and is certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga in the schools, grades K – 8.  She is currently a Tiered Support Specialist at Jackson Street School and Bridge Street School here in Northampton.  She is also enrolled in Eileen’s 300-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Loft in Albany. She has been a public school classroom teacher for over 20 years and has been taught the importance of truth and kindness by her hundreds of students. Rebeca is drawn to the Karuna community as a place where she can find inner peace and meaningful growth. She is dedicated to bringing the transformative power of the Eight Limb Path of yoga to people of all ages and abilities.