DeStress Monday at School
Chair Yoga / Sound Ball
Start the week with a wonderful way to reduce stress and energize muscles. You can easily do chair yoga at home or at work whenever you have a few spare minutes. Amy Eberhardt, MPH, CYT, LMT, CPMT, a certified integral yoga instructor from NYU Langone Medical Center, will guide you through the moves with two enlightening videos.
Sometimes it’s hard to be part of what’s going on around us because we might have trouble focusing or we feel self-conscious about how we sound or look or what other people might be thinking. To be aware and present with what is going on around us – in school, with our friends, at home – it helps to be able to let go of distractions, including judgments about ourselves. This game helps teach us how to participate fully in something and stay focused even if we might feel silly. It can also help boost our energy!
Instruct your students: We’re going to practice some really important skills for being “mindful” – that is, for paying attention to what is happening here and now.
- What: try and “fully participate” in this activity.
- How: “stay focused” – don’t think about anything else (e.g. what happened yesterday, what you’re doing after class, what’s for dinner, etc.).
- How: “stay focused” – don’t get distracted by someone else
- How: “don’t judge” – don’t judge yourself, don’t judge others. If you find yourself judging, just notice it – don’t judge it – and move on.
Instruct your students to stand in a circle. One person throws a pretend, or real ball to someone else in the circle while making a noise or saying a nonsense word (like “gersnibble”). Leaders demonstrate. Catcher makes same sound, then throws to someone else, making a different sound. The new catcher repeats sound, then throws to someone else, repeating the cycle.
Stop after one minute and ask: How was it? What was it like? Some people were smiling and giggling. What were you thinking? Did anyone think “I’m not doing this right” or “I look stupid”?
When we’re worried about how to do something or what we look like, is it easier or harder to participate?
Repeat Sound Ball (two minutes)
Instruct: “Let’s try again, but really get into it, fully participating. Throw yourself into it without fear, without feeling self-conscious.”
Students share observations.
Discuss: Contrast between first and second time and what they observed, described, etc.
Leaders discuss the rationale and lessons learned for Sound Ball:
It’s hard not to judge – it takes practice. When you don’t judge, you feel better about yourself and have more fun.
It’s hard to stay focused – when you are thinking about other things or other people. It’s easy to get distracted – you’re not fully participating in the experience and you miss a lot of information.
When you are able to focus all of your attention to one thing only, you will become better at it.
The more you practice something – the better you get at it. Pretty soon, you don’t have to think about it as much, you just do it. Sound Ball is like learning to ride a bike – at first you have to concentrate on the steps, but eventually with practice, it becomes automatic. That’s what mindfulness is like.
People can enjoy things more when they are fully present and in the moment, fully participating in what is going on. If you’re trying to get something done, or cope with lots of stuff, you will be more successful if you can fully participate in the moment.
Our thanks to the Mindfulness activities as described in Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS) for permitting us to use this Sound Ball exercise.
See the full DeStress Monday at School Curriculum