Primary students have been bending over backwards to get fit and flexible in special yoga with Wendy Sugg.
Wendy said it is an absolute pleasure to be teaching the children at Fairmead and that they are doing fantastically well with their yoga and gaining great benefit from the deep relaxation and sense of accomplishment .
Wendy said: ‘The children always seem very excited to see me and they really look forward to the yoga. Making the yoga fun for the children is the most important thing and by incorporating animal poses and noises, imagery, guided relaxation and laughter, the children are often unaware that they are participating in a profound and subtle practice, beneficial to both their physical and mental wellbeing’.
The children really enjoy the chanting at the beginning and the end of each class, and as they are becoming familiar with the poses they are gaining confidence to move onto the next.
Wendy said: ‘We practice quiet holding poses, a Vinyasa flow style of yoga moving from one pose to another, partner poses, balance poses and deep breathing throughout. The yoga helps the children in developing their cognitive ability and to follow instruction, for example clapping hands across the body, as we do in our opening song, is stimulating both the right and left hemispheres of the brain, strengthening the neural pathways’.
There are some children who need one to one help coming into a pose. Generally once they have experienced the correct posture on one side, they can perform the movement unassisted on the opposite side, ensuring every child has the opportunity to take part.
Wendy explained: ‘If I see that a child is a little bit upset or feeling out of sorts I will partner with them for the pose and gently bring them back to the group. It’s great to get the children working in pairs, this helps to develop trust between the children and encourages them to engage, relax and enjoy the activity’.
Key stage three have also been doing yoga with Wendy, but on a slightly more challenging programme to accommodate for the extra energy at that age and allowing for hormonal development.
Wendy commented: ‘It is clear that proportion of this age group have demonstrated attainment of a deep level of relaxation during the guided meditation and have had to be gently roused at the end of the session! There were few children who chose to sit out at the beginning, but who have since been encouraged to join in and now enjoy following the whole programme’.
With the ‘stop and relax’ technique the children are learning that they have a ‘tool’ that they can use at any time to help them to ‘stop and relax’, if they are beginning to begin to feel anxious, tired or upset; and will help them to self-regulate and reduce the possibility of a distressing situation.
Wendy practices this technique every session to develop the neural pathways, which will allow them to trigger the relaxation response more and more easily each time they practice it. This technique is also a useful ‘calming’ tool for teaching assistants to use at any time.
Wendy said: ‘We practice deep relaxation in a supine position on the mat and I give them the analogy of floating on a cloud, a safe place where they can relax. The children respond well to this ‘quiet time’. Our closing song is quiet and peaceful and the children generally remain relaxed and calm as they leave the room.
The children are benefiting not only on a physical level; but on a mental level, a social interaction level and moreover stimulating cognitive behavioural patterns, stimulating both hemispheres of the brain, creating a peaceful feeling and the realisation that they are able to relax.
The teaching assistants also seem to be really enjoying the yoga and would enjoy and benefit from an adult yoga class of their own’.