Friday 26 January 2018

From now on, every Friday, we will be publishing a blog to record what happens at our alternative democratic school.

I hope you find it informative and entertaining. I will change the names of the students and teachers, and since there are so few of us I may change other identifying aspects too, so you will have to think very hard to guess who I am talking about. In fact, you won’t even know who I am. I could be one of the teachers or a student, or perhaps even one of the trustees. I could even be someone completely unrelated to the school who relies on a mole to leak what’s going on. Who knows?

Today, as an introduction I will open a window to how we start the day with yoga and meditation. We begin by sitting and exploring our posture until we feel balanced and at ease. We then get into contact with our breathing and become aware of our feelings and physical sensations.

We do a lot of work on the basic movements of the lumbar-sacrum area. Bending forwards, backwards, side-wards and twisting. This limbers us up for more complex stretches like the downward dog, the cat, the cobra, the crab and the butterfly. Of course, the animal themes go down well with the children, and some used to accompany the postures with animal noises. This has lessened somewhat over the last few months although giggling fits do sometimes occur.

Recently we have been following the stretches with a concentration exercise throwing a small bean bag to each other around a circle. Eye contact, control over the throw and one-point concertation for one bag, and then whole circle concentration when we have two bags flying around. Experienced yogis may notice that we are practising dharana and dhayana. The children love it and we have noticed that it does seem to improve concentration and each week the students get slicker at playing the game. Making yoga game-like has obvious attractions for children but more than that it enriches the practice by making it more joyful and relaxed. So, if you are taking your yoga too seriously….

We then finish with a short mediation. Recently we have been working on gratitude towards ourselves and gratitude for the presence of everybody else in the group. Gratitude triggers acceptance and valuing, and it leaves a warm vibration of good will in the room to set us up for the communication circle. Everybody can speak if they want to, if they don’t it is fine. This is where everyone gets the chance to say how they are feeling. It is important to know if someone has not slept well or has skipped breakfast (and is now famished) or has some good news to share. It is helpful to have small window into the inner world of the children and staff to help us navigate our relationships through the day.

Then it is 9:30 and time for science. More on that next week.

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