How does your engine run? It's a simple question with a simple answer. Grounding red hot engines can be a little more complicated....
I took on a new challenge this summer- teaching 2-3 classes of yoga as a "little therapy" for kids with sensory-based concerns at a week-long day camp that runs throughout the summer- if you're interested google PEOTSI here in Atlanta. These kiddos primarily have autism. With that in mind, here's goes....
I begin each group with one simple question, "How is your engine running right now?" (That's not mine- it's from the Alert Program, but it's a good line!) Trust me when I say on day 5 of a weeklong camp, we've got quite the array of engines. We talk about what yoga is- the breath, the body, and the brain working together and demonstrate the power of our breath. I hand out breath pompoms (those fuzzy little balls that you can get at the craft store). We explore our breath, noticing that a blue engine breath lacks power. Your pompom can't really go anywhere with a blue engine breath. A red engine breath has power but it lacks control. A red engine breath sends your pompom off your mat and often crashing into someone else's space. A green engine breath has power and control. It allows you to navigate your pompom up and down the mat, over speed bumps, and through tunnels. A green engine breath is grounded.
And so it begins...as I surveyed the group today, our engines were running hot! It's a happy coincidence that red engines benefit from finding some SOLID GROUND. We set out feet and rooted the four corners with our magical glue and began to move through the flow. After a few rounds of moving, and seeing that we remained red, we did a lot of deep sensory input in GO TO YOUR ROOM followed by CALM DOWN. By the second time I called out, "CALM DOOOOOOOWN!" their engines were beginning to look more green. From here it was time to LIGHTEN UP and then find a little earth in PLOW.
With most of my red engines turning green, I turned my attention to those two little sleepy blue engines who were some rather FLAT PANCAKES. (I can't really blame them. They've hiked and been swimming daily in addition to learning to ride a bike without training wheels all while attempting to work as a group.) We ROCKed and ROLLed to hands and knees. Again, it's a happy coincidence that blue engines benefit from learning to SPEAK EASY. After a few rounds of CAT SCRATCH FEVER and LAUGHTER HERO we celebrated making it onto our own two feet with a LAUGHTER MILKSHAKE.
Since we were now mostly green, it was time to have fun exploring the BALANCE BEAM and a round of 3 poses (I promise to post this game- it's a group favorite). We ended our practice with I am Happy I am Good.
It's always amazing to me how by the time we end after the two silent chants, that each child- even those who struggle with the hand movements- is really in the zone. Our savasana may not look like yours, but it does the trick. We meet in DARK SEED LIGHT (for this group, I call it rock). I lead them through a guided visualization exploring the sights, sounds, smells, and textures around their rocks. After 1-2 minutes in rock, they roll up to sitting. We bow to our friends and looking to the good inside each other, we prepare to face the next activity with our green engines. Grounded. NAMASTE.