Increase calm and focus while decreasing anxious energy with simple but powerful mindful movement practices for your students…and for YOU, the TEACHER!
From Restless to Calm:
Transferring Anxious Energy Through Mindful Movement
Physical movement is a crucial component to a child’s cognitive development and academic success. A child’s mind can focus better on cognitive pursuits if it is free from anxious excess energy. Excess energy can manifest in many ways, including restlessness and fidgety impulses. These impulses become more prevalent when a student is under stress or is asked to sit still and pay attention. Impulses seem even harder to control when we are told that we need to “Stop that!”
For example, have you ever become aware that you were tapping your foot, possibly out of nervousness, and then told yourself to stop it, by forced stillness? I have personally waged this internal battle. I realized how difficult it is to control impulses with stillness. It seems a lot more manageable to listen to my body, and indulge in some movement to transfer the energy. Enter Mindful Movement…
What is Mindful Movement?
Moving mindfully means that we are aware of what our body is doing when it is doing it. This includes any movement from walking to climbing to jumping as we will demonstrate next. Although mindful movement is applicable for all ages, abilities, and environments, I have found it particularly useful in the classroom as a mindfulness teacher. Mindful movement is an effective classroom tool to alleviate some of the restlessness associated with anxiety, stress, and worry, commonly experienced by students. Mindful movement does not mean slow, it means intentional. Moving intentionally means noticing how gravity plays a role in our body as we move up through space, and how it is easy to get lost in the momentum of arms or legs dropping back down to earth.
Goals of Mindful Movement
- Students will demonstrate how to infuse mindful awareness into common activities like walking, standing, and sitting.
- Students will move their body in an intentional way to help release excess energy.
- Students will learn how to stay in their physical being and out of their mind chatter.
- Join students as you ask them to stand as tall as they can, activating their core. For younger children use terms they know such as “tummies”, and use hands to demonstrate where their core is located.
- Place your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder width apart, feet and legs uncrossed.
- Inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth. “Notice when you inhale your body gets taller and stronger, and with each exhale there is a type of release or letting go. Inhale and bend your knees, feeling the movement of bending at the knee as if for the first time.
- Inhale and jump into the air, exhaling as you land. Feel your feet landing safely and firmly on the ground. If you feel wobbly, feel the feeling of wobbly, and see if you are letting breath or movement lead. Then try again.”
- Repeat mindful jumping 20 times.