Be Sure To Ground The Kids As Well
What does it mean for kids to be grounded, not in the punitive sense but in the healthy, emotional sense?
“Really knowing who they are, their quirks, their lighter sides as well as their darker side—that’s being grounded,” says Grounded Kids co-founder Cheryl Crawford. “Not trying to cover it up, not trying to hide— because when you cover it up, that’s when the trouble starts.”
Grounded Kids provides yoga classes for youths in studios and in schools, as well as yoga training for youth educators. Its mission is based on the belief that yoga can aid in clarity, focus and learning; help students cope with anxiety; and help students control anger: to “ground themselves through yoga, laughter and elevation.”
Crawford, a former Fulton County schoolteacher who holds a 500-hour registered children’s yoga teacher certification and is certified to teach in several different yoga disciplines, says one of the first steps in having children become grounded is helping them understand what they are feeling in their bodies.
“Instead of saying to somebody, kind of a judgment thing, ‘You’re rude, you’re a jerk, you’re mean,’” Crawford says, “teach them to say, ‘I’m feeling anger right now, and I need to take a few breaths before I respond to you.’”
Once the children notice those feelings, and can stop themselves, they can take that time to respond and hopefully de-escalate the negative emotions. But how do they get from recognizing what is happening to them physically and emotionally to the ability to stop and regroup? That’s where the yoga comes in.
“They need to feel their body,” says Crawford. “So, oftentimes when you’re in that rage—I guess the three extremes, rage, depression, anxiety, those are the three main ones— what all those have in common is a disconnect from the body.”
Through practice students learn the physical feelings that go along with their emotions and what to do when they have those feelings.
“We teach them to pause before they act,” Crawford says. “We don’t want to remove them from people or situations that are stressful, like noise or annoyances, because you can’t. You’d be in a closet all day. But you need to work on your container, your nervous system, through the mudras, the breath, the poses. They’re not scared of people annoying them. They feel a lot more spacious, because they have a container that’s so strong. They’re able to say something that has more impact.”
Grounded Kids is working with school superintendents to bring Breathe, Georgia to classrooms in DeKalb, Fulton and other counties across Georgia starting September 11. This new program will teach four breathing techniques to students to practice daily for 40 days at the same time as children in other schools. Participants will receive Tibetan flags, instructional videos, assignments and assessments.
A Pose to Try
Name of Pose: Go to Your Room
When to Use: When feeling a disconnect from self
Directions: Experience the sensations in the body.
Grab ankles. Stomp back and forth on the ground loudly for 1-3 minutes. Bend knees to 90 degrees. Imagine roots spreading down from the soles of feet to the center of the Earth, anchoring to the ground. Keeping knees bent, lift up and draw hands back toward the shoulders. Use both hands to slam an imaginary door shut at the same time exhaling a groan the whole house can hear.
Fold forward and touch the ground with fingers. Root feet heavily. Inhale, imagining that inhaling vital energy from the red Georgia clay up through the soles of the feet upward through the legs and into the “basement,” or pelvis. Exhale from the basement down through the legs, through the feet, and down the roots to the center of the Earth. Repeat this several times, focusing on how grounded the legs and hips feel with the energy flow. Feel the grounding effects on the entire body.
Image: Ross Oscar Knight