I recently was invited into first grade to share some relaxation practice after recess. As you can imagine, the energy was high and distracted, with students buzzing around the room like bees. So, I invited them to be the “very best bee they could be” and buzz right into their imagination for a relaxation story!
In my calm voice used for relaxation practice, I began to model calm energy so that the room would settle. I noticed students who were participating and beginning to calm down and recognized them for beautiful “bee buzzing breaths.”
Soon the energy in the room began to match my own.
Buzzing along through the air, we took a deep breath and bee buzzed the air out on a long exhale, making the buzzing sound as long as possible. We flew like bees in our imagination into our own parts of the meadow, each student finding a place to sit where he/she would not be touching any other student.
In their own part of the meadow, we paused. Breathing in we raised our arms up in an arc to make a rainbow. Breathing out we slowly swept our arms to the sides bringing the rainbow down to our sides. We repeated this rainbow breath. In, arching the arms up. Out, arching the arms back down.
Next, we looked right and left and saw that we were sitting in a field of flowers. And, butterflies love flowers. So, we sat down to become butterflies sitting in the middle of the flowers. I instructed students in the butterfly pose: Sitting down, put the bottom of your feet together to make butterfly wings. Breathing in, we fly our lets up, breathing out, we fly our legs down. Slowly fluttering up. Slowly fluttering down. Up, down. Up, down. Beautiful!! I asked a couple of students what color their butterfly wings were.
Landing on a flower, our butterflies began to settle. Next was Flower/ Dandelion breath. We all have landed on a flower to relax!! I invited each student to hold their hands up in front of them, still sitting in butterfly pose. In one hand, I explained, they held a pretty flower. In the other hand, a fuzzy dandelion. Breathing in, we smell the flower. Breathing out, we blow the dandelion fluff out into the meadow. We repeated this a few times. I asked a few other students to share what color their flowers were.
Now we become ladybugs! Letting our flowers and dandelions go, we move our bodies into ladybug pose. While they are in Child’s Pose, or Ladybug Pose, I come around the room to place a spot on each of their backs. Once they feel the spot, the can transform into a snake in the grass.
Snake Pose follows, as each student lies down in the grass and breathes in to look up and around for a fox paw or a mouse scurrying by. We take a couple of deep breaths in snake pose and slowly rest back down into the grass.
Now, we end our meadow journey with Strong Mountain/Running Stream, a progressive relaxation activity. I ask students to stand up tall, arms at their sides and tighten all their muscles to be a strong, strong rocky mountain. We stand tall, holding the pose for several minutes. And then they let go flopping forward to become running streams, relaxing and letting go to flow, flow along. We repeat: tensing the muscles we become tall, strong rocky mountains, holding tight for a count of 5. Then we let go and relax all of our muscles, flopping down to flow with the cool, clear stream.
Finally, at the end of our relaxation journey, I explain that our journey through the meadow has fully relaxed our bodies and minds and prepared each student for learning.
The beauty of this routine is that it can be carried out sitting at desks as well, a perfect relaxation break in the middle of seat work! Remember to use your best, calm voice, to calm your own energy, and to do the activities along with your child or students.
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