Peace Begins Inside of Me

Fssu-Children-drawing-3

In honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday, we explored the theme of PEACE throughout the month of January.

Like learning, yoga is a holistic practice which integrates many philosophies and concepts beyond just asanas and meditation. Since all children have different learning styles, I wanted to expose them to various forms of art and movement that would help them understand the meaning of peace on a deeper level.

I first introduced the concept of peace through a cute, catchy song called DO YOU KNOW WHERE I FIND PEACE?

My favorite verse is:

Peace begins inside of me 

inside of me, inside of me  

Peace begins inside of me 

that’s where Peace is found

peace_begins_with_me

I used Thich Nhat Hanh’s “10 Mindful Movements” book to teach the children about the connection between breath and movement.  I explained how our breath helps with our focus and balance in our yoga poses.  The children really enjoyed following along with me and practicing their breathing while stretching. They also learned what it means to be mindful with their thoughts, their words and their actions.   I related some of the mindful movements, such as arms reaching up (Upward Salute in Sun Salutation),arm extensions (standing Butterfly) and frog to poses they are already familiar with and they especially loved the last movement, which is a variation of Warrior Pose or Super Hero, as we call it in my class.

I read the book “Can You Say Peace?” by Karen Katz, which teaches them to say PEACE in several different languages. This colorful and beautifully illustrated book introduces different boys and girls from around the world and how they say peace.  For example, in India they say Shanti and since they already chant their Oms in class, it gave me the opportunity to share that that Om Shanti means “Peace for All”.

The following week, we read a poem about Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream and discussed what it means to all get along and be equal. We also did some partner poses to reinforce the idea of being able to get along and work together.  By the last week of classes, the children were more expressive about what peace means and were using phrases like “being nice to each other”, “peace and harmony” “no fighting” and “peace is in your heart”.   It was amazing to see how well they were interpreting the songs, poems, books and movements to understand such a complex idea as PEACE.

We discussed how yoga and meditation (quiet time) are ways to find peace inside and during Savasana, I invited them to place their hands on their hearts and envision the peace in their hearts like a glowing white light that expands and gets brighter with each breath, as they share this peace with everyone around them and that in this way they could make the world a more peaceful place.

Today, one of the teachers commented that a parent had told her how her 3 year old son was telling her that peace was inside of him and that he had learned it in yoga class!  Knowing that children are going home and sharing what they discover in my class really inspires me because this new generation of yogis will be creating peace on the the planet.

peace child