Boost Your Brain in Five MinutesDec 19, 2021
Ugh… sometimes you’re just not feeling it. Your mind and body feel... blah.
This goes for kids too.
Teachers, has this situation ever happened to you?
After announcing the next activity to the class, audible groans can be heard from all sides of the room. The students will not perform at their best, but you still have to get this lesson done. Today. So what can you do to help boost the energy and mindset of the students and yourself?
Usually, we would reach for a cup of coffee or chocolate for that quick pick-me-up, but giving sugar to 25+ students in your care will probably end badly (if not in tears).
A better idea is to use breath and movement to increase the class’s spirit, mood, and mental power quickly. A few minutes of breathing tools and poses is all it takes to get your students switched on and ready to learn.
Let’s look at four tools (from the video) you can use to boost classroom readiness and find out exactly how, and why, they work wonders. Just don’t try these on a full stomach!
Skull Shining Breath- Kapalabhati
Pronounced kah-pah-lah-BAH-tee, this breathing tool is intended to clear the cobwebs of the mind. Kapala = skull and bhati = light and knowledge, which is perfect for the classroom. A traditional pranayama (breath regulation) technique in yoga, Kapalabhati increases the amount of oxygen and energy in the brain and body by focusing on strong, short exhales.
The exhales are generated by powerful contractions of the lower abdominal muscles, pulling your lower belly back, quickly, toward your spine. This pushes the air out of your lungs. The inhales are passive. The air is sucked back into your lungs after each contraction.
It can be difficult for children to isolate these muscles and movements. So we can add in an extra arm movement to help with the powerful contractions. Make fists with your hands, reach your arms above your head. Every time you exhale, pull your arms down powerfully next to your body. This will help contract the abdominal muscles and force the exhalation out of your nostrils.
Keep the number of exhales shorter to start, around 10- 20 in one set, and tell students to stop if they feel dizzy.
Chest Opening Yoga Poses- Camel Pose
When sitting at a desk or working on a computer, we often slip into postures that seem comfortable, but they are not the best for our bodies. Our spine curves, shoulders hunching forward, closing off our chest area and squishing our heart and lungs. This affects our circulatory system and the amount of oxygen making its way into your brain.
It is not the best scenario for students trying to use their brains for a classroom task.
Chest opening yoga poses expand and open the chest cavity, allowing the heart and lungs to work effectively, increasing circulation all over the body. Pair this with some breathwork, and you have a recipe for an active brain.
Camel pose is a classic chest opener and one that can be done easily in the classroom as it doesn’t require much space. It is most often performed kneeling on the floor, but the pose can be modified for students to practice while sitting in their chairs.
Lift your chin, stretch your elbows behind you. Broaden your shoulders and reach your heart to the ceiling. Your head can fall all the way back or you can keep looking forward, whichever is more comfortable for you.
Movement- Twists and Side Stretches
When our body feels stiff and stuck, it can affect our thoughts too! Move and release your body, stimulate circulation and watch the ideas start to flow through you.
Twisting and side stretching has many physical benefits for our bodies, but it can also help to make us feel fresh, rejuvenated, and mentally ready to tackle any task. These movements increase circulation and allow fresh blood to flow around the body, carrying oxygen to much-needed areas like our brains.
By twisting and side stretching, we loosen up the ribs and spine, allowing more space for our lungs to take those essential deep breaths. When we use cross-body movements, such as reaching our arms across to the other side of our body, we activate our brain’s left and right hemispheres.
Talk about being ready to learn! These movements help your students feel physically invigorated and prepared to start any activity.
Short, positive statements that students can repeat to themselves to get their mindset on the right track. When you begin giving instructions for a lesson, students may start to think negative and unhelpful thoughts such as “I can’t do this, this is too hard” or “I am going to fail.”
Asking students to repeat some affirmations (either silently or aloud) before a lesson can help their mindset in a few different ways.
- They are motivating, and students feel ready to tackle the challenge
- They give students a goal to focus on, for example, completing the task
- Changing negative thought patterns into positive ones
- Boosts the self-confidence of the student
- They help to develop a growth mindset
If you have a lesson requiring your students to be mentally fired up and ready to tackle some academic challenges, use these four tools before starting. Help your students be prepared mentally and physically to work at their full potential.
Play the video and follow along. It takes less than five minutes to go from asleep to alert, from blah to brain boosted.
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