Yoga Syllabus for Anxiety

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downdogThe following is a syllabus for a short yoga class for elementary school age children.  The theme of the class is reducing anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an upcoming event or something with an uncertain outcome. We all experience some anxiety from time to time.  The practice of yoga can help us handle anxiety when it occurs and perhaps even help us avoid feeling anxiety. During this practice I invite you to notice any time your mind drifts to another thought,  worry or anxiety. Silently notice that you are thinking about something else, and then come back to the pose you are practicing.  During our practice I am going to read two poems by Shel Silverstein.  I’ll read the first poem while we practice our first pose, then read the second one while we practice savasana and rest at the end of our class. Before we practice each of the poses, I will demonstrate the pose.  Then we will practice the pose together. Sequence 1:

  • Begin in an easy seated posture.
  • Calm Eyes:  Gently place the base of your palm over your eyes.  Rest the tips of your fingers on the top of your head. (teacher reads aloud, Listen to the Mustn’ts) If you find that your mind drifts away to some other thought or worry during our class today or you are not able for any reason to practice the pose your classmates are practicing, practice this pose called Calm Eyes.
  • Seated side bend:   Place the palm of one hand on the floor to your side.  Slide the palm away from your side until your elbow also touches the floor.  Reach the other arm up towards the ceiling.  Repeat on the other side.
  • Seated side twist.  Place the palm of one of your hands on the opposite knee.  Reach the free arm up towards the ceiling then swing that arm to your back side.  Point your finger tips away from your body and the palm of your hand on the floor.  Take a breath in.  As you exhale twist your body towards your backside hand.  Repeat on the other side.
  • Seated Arm Cross, Hold Knees:  Cross your arms in front of your body, then place the palms of your hands on the opposite knees.  Bend forward over your knees.
  • Cat / Cow:  Come to all fours on your knees and hands.  Press your palms into the floor and all of your toes into the floor.  As you breath in, look up towards the ceiling.  As you breath out, look towards your navel.
  • Down Dog:  Press palms and toes into the floor and slowly lift your hips away from your feet and palms.
  • Child’s Pose:  Spread your knees and touch your big toes.  Straighten your arms and press your palms into the floor.  Feel your breath filling your belly between your thighs.

Sequence 2:

  • Tadasana / Mountain Pose:  Come to standing.  Zip your feet together.  Check to see your knees are over your ankles and your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your hips.  Level your chin and gaze at a point accross the room.  See if you can let your gaze feel calm.  Let your hands extend by your side.  Breathe and feel your full extended height in this upright position.
  • Standing Side Bends:  Let your hands by your side begin to flutter or shake a bit.   Extend one arm towards the sky and lean towards the opposite fluttering hand. Repeat other side.
  • Forward Bend:   Rest your hands on your hips.  Keeping your legs straight as can be, bend forward into an L shape.  Then bend your knees slightly and roll forward so your belly meets your thighs.  Breathe.   Touch your finger tips to the floor to balance and try straightening your legs any amount.
  • Plank:  Place your palms on the floor under your shoulders.  With your arms straight step back into a plank position with your toes firmly on the floor and your legs and back straight.
  • Crow:  Hop your legs forward so your feet land between your arms and your knees spread to the outside of your arms.  Tuck your knees on the outside of your upper arms above your elbows.  Lean forward to balance on your palms.
  • If time, Pigeon:  From crow hop back to plank position.   Bend one of your back legs and bring it forward to the same side elbow.  Rest your foot and knee on the floor.  Extend the leg left behind straight out behind you pressing the toes and top of your foot into the floor.  Straighten your arms.  Breathe.  Smile.  Step back to plank then repeat the other side.
  • Seated Butterfly:  Come to a seated position.    Press your feet together and bring them back towards your crotch. Extend your shoulders over your hips.  Hold your feet together. Extend bent knees away from each other without losing the contact of the soles of your feet.
  • Savasana in Reclined Butterfly:  Let go of your feet and slowly roll back to a reclined position while keeping your feet pressing firmly together.  Breath.   (teacher reads aloud Twistable Turnable Man)
  • Extend your legs.  Wiggle your toes and hands.  Roll over to one side.  Use your hands to press up into a seated position.  Breath.
  • Bring your palms together just at the base of your rib cage.  Bow.  Namaste.  The light in me bows to the light in you.

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