Exploring Wisdom: Shakta Khalsa on the Energy Between Us

By Shakta Khalsa
October 5, 2018

The Energy Between Us - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Every thought, every feeling, every action has a particular frequency of energy or vibration. The American Heritage Dictionary defines vibration, in the sense that I am using it, as: A distinctive emotional aura or atmosphere regarded as being instinctively sensed or experienced.

 

Tuning into your emotional aura and energy

I like the description of vibration as an “emotional aura,” because I feel it accurately describes the tone of the frequency that we emanate at any moment. If I am sad, my emotional aura, or signal, is of the frequency of sadness. And if I am happy, the signal I emit is joy. Others who come into my energy field pick up on that signal either consciously or unconsciously and respond to it. The really good news is that we can learn to become mindful of our vibration and, with practice, consciously choose the vibration we want to feel.

 

This atmosphere of thinking, in terms of energy and vibration, is the new luminous space we are feeling for in our relationship to ourselves and, in turn, with our children.

 

The true impact of disengagement

Consider this scenario and the various energy vibrations it contains: Mom (or Dad) is driving with a 4-year-old who is sitting in their car seat in the back. They are driving down a highway when another car cuts them off, and Mom has to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. Mom begins to swear, then tries to calm down. The child notices the dramatic change in her parent’s energy. This child can tell that something upsetting has happened, so she asks, “What’s the matter, Mom?”

 

Now, Mom can either use this as a time to “protect” the child by saying, “Nothing, honey. Everything is fine.” Then Mom looks at the small child through the rearview mirror trying to smile, but it really doesn’t reach her eyes because she’s scared. The child, being intuitive and instinctive to feelings, knows that something is not fine.

 

So this one little incident becomes one of many little incidents for the child, and over time the child will begin to believe that either: (1) Adults do not tell the truth because what they say does not match with what I can feel, so they cannot always be trusted, or (2) Since adults are bigger and wiser and must be telling the truth, I must not be perceiving this correctly. This is how a child begins the path of mistrusting his or her own guidance.

 

Choosing presence and intention

Now, since every cloud has a proverbial silver lining, we can turn this same scenario around so that it becomes a gift. The same thing happens, but this time when the child says, “What’s the matter, Mom?” Mom says, “That car cut me off and I got scared we’d have an accident, so I got a little upset. But everything is okay now. I am calming myself down by taking some deep breaths; do you want to do it with me?” And she glances at her child with an encouraging smile. Now the child can relax and feel safe. She also gained three profound understandings:

  • Things happen in life that I may get upset about.
  • It is okay to admit that.
  • There are tools, like breathing, that I can use to help myself feel better on the spot and recover my connection to my inner self.

Obviously Mom or Dad or Teacher would do well to practice centering techniques such as breathing or meditation at times when there is a lull in the action. Centering practices set the stage for positive experiences when life with children is presenting the threat of a storm, and can even help avoid a full-blown hurricane-level interaction.

 

Learning to remain centered for yourself and your child

In my yoga path, we always take a moment to center with the breath or sound before starting a project. It is a great habit to get into, even for small things such as answering the phone mindfully, getting ready to drive the car, or having a conversation with your child. The centering makes all the difference in the interaction. In my Montessori training, we were told to get on the level of the child and look into their eyes with an open, supportive attitude. I think of it as answering an invitation into their world.

 

More and more parents and teachers are practicing the “highest yoga” by relating to children with an attitude of wholeness of body, mind, and spirit. Life becomes so interesting, and yes, even extraordinary—once we start the inner journey toward being who we actually are, our authentic selves. It’s at this place that we sense what truly exists and find ways to deal with what life brings us in a more graceful, connected manner.

 

Do you feel called to share the joy of yoga with children? Join Shakta for her Radiant Child Yoga Training at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 7th-11th, 2018, and contribute to the building of a more peaceful world.

 

This article is excerpted from The Yoga Way to Radiance by Shakta Khalsa. © 2016. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd and reposted with permission from the author.

 

Shakta Khalsa, ERYT-500 and IKYTA certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, is a leading expert on children and yoga.. She is a parent, Montessori educator, and a yoga professional recognized by Yoga Journal magazine as one of the top five Kundalini Yoga teachers in the world. Shakta is the Founder and Director of Radiant Child® Yoga, an internationally-known training program for teaching children yoga and working with/raising children consciously.  In the children’s yoga community, Shakta is considered the “godmother” of the children’s yoga movement.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: childhood , children , energy , intuition , meditation , mindfulness , parenting

In House: Shakta Khalsa on Yoga with Children

By Shakta Khalsa
September 5, 2018

Growing UP with Yoga - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Children today are under as much stress as adults. And with the busy, achievement-oriented lives they lead, kids need tools to help them self-nurture, self-adjust, and feel happy. Children are expected to behave in ways that their nervous systems cannot easily manage without physical activity, yet they are increasingly inactive in school and at home. And every day the number of children diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, and other sensory issues grow higher.

 

The good news is that kids can find much balance and support via natural exercise and play—in the form of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. In the formative years of childhood, yoga is purposeful play that brings physical, mental, and emotional fitness. Yoga tools include calming breathing practices, affirmative songs for positive self-talk, and movements/poses to organize the nervous system and strengthen the physical body.

 

Recently I sat down with three young people who did, in fact, grow up with yoga. The first is a young woman who was my yoga student from age three until eight and recently reconnected with me after twenty years. Madeleine told me how yoga impacted her life as a child, and how it has continued to help her grow as an integrated, authentic person.

 

Madeleine: from preschool yoga to yoga teacher

Madeleine holds a special place in my book, Fly Like A Butterfly, and in my heart as well. As an eight-year-old she was one of the child models in my book, and for five years I taught a weekly children’s yoga class at her Montessori school. Beginning at age three, Madeleine was one of the children who took yoga with me for all five of those years.

 

After being out of touch with Madeleine for decades, she found me on social media around two years ago. I am delighted to say that we have been talking back and forth ever since. She is now twenty-five and an accomplished hatha yoga teacher in Santa Barbara, California.

 

A foundation of yoga

Shakta: It is thrilling to reconnect with you, Madeleine. I am wondering what you most remember about your yoga classes with me when you were young?

 

Madeleine: I remember doing the washing machine exercise when I was really little, like three or four. Then candlestick was more fun by the time I was eight. I know it is actually called shoulder stand, but I still like calling it candlestick!

 

Shakta: I am wondering about the years between Montessori school and adulthood. Did you just continue to do yoga on your own?

 

Madeleine: Once I stopped Montessori school, I stopped doing yoga. It was a huge transition when I started public school. For example, in public school we were sitting all the time, not like in the Montessori classroom where we moved around and chose our work. I stopped doing yoga, but it was always there for me—emotionally—when I needed it. Another thing that was really different was that I was expected to do physical fitness in public school. PE was kind of scary to me. Yoga was never scary, I guess because it was only about what you could do. I never enjoyed sports or competitive things, and that’s why PE was scary. I stopped doing yoga, but it was always there for me—emotionally—when I needed it.

 

Returning to yoga

Shakta: So tell me, how did you get back into yoga?

 

Madeleine: When I was fifteen and in boarding school, I remember seeing pictures of people on the internet who were doing yoga. My thought was, “Oh, I remember doing that!” So I got some videos and practiced by myself throughout high school. Then in college I took a class.

 

Shakta: How wonderful! And this lead to you becoming a yoga teacher?

 

Madeleine: Sharing yoga with friends lead to becoming a trained yoga teacher. Back in high school I started teaching my friends…I still called shoulder stand “candlestick” and things like that.

 

Shakta: I always think it is good to lighten up about yoga and help people relax and laugh. Madeleine, I’ve seen you doing some very impressive arm-supported poses. What do you think about the current image that yoga has—for example, the way yoga is portrayed as super-fit people doing poses that are impossible for most people?

 

Madeleine: I guess they want to show what looks good in photos. No one wants to see shavasana (deep relaxation pose) in a picture! When I do some of the more intense poses, people ask me if I was a gymnast, which is ironic because that was always so hard for me—I could never even do a cartwheel! But I look at yoga as playing. It was never something I had to “accomplish.”

 

Yoga is playtime

Shakta: Sounds like you do it because you enjoy it.

 

Madeleine: Exactly. When I go into the yoga studio as a grown-up person, I never go because I have to. It is always playtime—it’s “me time.” I can go to a yoga class anywhere in the world and feel that I am back home. I teach full time, fourteen classes a week. It’s my life now! I feel really lucky because I could never work in an office. And you know, I feel really honored. All these people come into one room together. It is probably the one time of the day that they don’t have their cell phones. They aren’t paying attention to anything else. No technology, just breathing. We are all just breathing together. It feels like home. And I can go to a yoga class anywhere in the world and feel that I am back home.

 

Shakta: Now you are inspiring me, your original teacher!

 

Yoga for the mind, body, and soul

Madeleine: (Laughing) I love how it helps with everyday life. I had asthma as a child, and yoga and meditation have helped me to breathe better. Yoga has helped me to be more mindful, to pay attention to my body and what’s going on around me. Lately I’m noticing the difference between emotions, how they come and go, compared to things in life that are more permanent.

 

I love how yoga helps you realize that what is going on in the moment is a mirror for how you are feeling in that moment. For example, if I really want to get into a pose and it is not happening, I can be aware of what’s going on in my body, I can recognize it outside of class too. I can recognize that I need to calm down a little. I can work with that same feeling when it is happening in traffic. I can notice it and change it instead of getting overcome by things happening around me. And, Shakta, I am just wondering—how do you do that with children?

 

Shakta: Little children understand these things if you put it in language they can understand. That’s what I do in my Radiant Child Yoga work, and that is what I did with you all those years ago in the Montessori school!

 

Madeleine: I’ll never forget the spaghetti test [see practice below]. I wish I could do it with my adult students to help them experience what it feels like to relax. It’s such good biofeedback! I wonder what will happen with all these children who grew up with yoga? Something great I think!

 

Shakta: Something like what has happened for you, my dear Madeleine!

 

The spaghetti test

Lie down on the floor, face up, arms at your sides. Imagine you are stiff like spaghetti when it is in the box. Inhale and tense your entire body. Exhale and be like cooked spaghetti—soft and relaxed. Do this three times. Have a friend test you to see if you are “cooked” by gently picking up one arm and wiggling it to see if it is relaxed.

 

Make a difference with child yoga

As Madeleine clearly demonstrates, growing up with yoga can be an organic process that has a profound impact. One heart, one mind at a time. Do you feel called to share the joy of yoga with children? Join Shakta for her Radiant Child Yoga Training at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 7th-11th, 2018, and contribute to the building of a more peaceful world.

 

This article was first published in Yoga International, and is republished with the permission of the author. It is presented in excerpt. Read the full article here.

 

Shakta Khalsa, ERYT-500 and IKYTA certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, is a leading expert on children and yoga.. She is a parent, Montessori educator, and a yoga professional recognized by Yoga Journal magazine as one of the top five Kundalini Yoga teachers in the world. Shakta is the Founder and Director of Radiant Child® Yoga, an internationally-known training program for teaching children yoga and working with/raising children consciously.  In the children’s yoga community, Shakta is considered the “godmother” of the children’s yoga movement.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: child , childhood , in house , shakta khalsa , yoga
Arts Education - Art of Living Retreat Center

The Importance of Arts Education

By Neve Spicer
June 14, 2018
Arts Education - Art of Living Retreat Center
 

It’s no secret that learning and experiencing the Arts benefits us in a profound way. Indeed, 93% of parents consider Arts Education to be a vital ingredient in the healthy development of their children. It’s easy to see why with this visual guide by WeTheParents.org.

 

 

So why then are the Arts being squeezed out of our education system?

 

The reason is that schools are under intense pressure to focus their dwindling resources on “academic” subjects. Sadly, this means that Arts Education is being positioned on the chopping block.

 

In a bid to save the Arts, educators are attempting to show that learning arts enhance academic outcomes. While this is great (and, indeed, there is some evidence to show that they do), it is an approach that misses the point. The purpose of Arts Education isn’t simply to boost academic results. No. Being immersed in arts has a myriad of positive benefits that reach far beyond maths and English.

 

It’s essential to reframe the debate about arts in schools by arguing for the many “non-academic” benefits that the arts bestow upon children and young people.

 

Kids immersed in arts get to experience the world, and themselves, in a different way; one that cultivates cognitive abilities, nurtures positive character traits, and fosters critical thinking. It also has a huge positive impact on their happiness and wellbeing. Put simply, children who take part in Arts Education are more likely to grow into well-rounded, culturally open, thoughtful, and confident adults.

 

Scientific studies struggle to capture these subtle yet powerful effects. This lack of hard empirical evidence shouldn’t be a reason to drop the arts from schools. It does mean, though, that everybody who has experienced the positive and transformative impact of the arts needs to speak up and make their voice heard. This way, together, we can strengthen the case for arts in education.

 

Let’s be bold telling our stories. Let’s shout about the way arts have changed our lives for the better. It’s vital that we pass this gift on to the new generation of children. After all, we need art in the world as much as them.

   

Neve Spicer is a mom and blogger looking for simplicity, meaning, and humor in parenting. Together with her partner, Keane, she runs wetheparents.org. Neve and Keane are ex-teachers and project managers who get obssessed with researching and writing precisely. They love to get nerdy, testing and reviewing the gear that moms and dads (apparently) need.

 

Read more on the importance of arts education at wetheparents.org. 

   

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: arts , childhood , creativity , education , mindfulness , wellness

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