Let’s talk about the importance of affirmations, and repeating those affirmations: a mantra. Let’s talk about the various forms of affirmations, and how to teach them in a kids’ yoga class.
We can do this, we can do this, we can do this.
I would like to start this discussion with a few questions: what do you know about affirmations? What do you know about mantras? Are the two related? If you believe affirmations and mantras are related then how and why are they? Any good discussion begins with acknowledging our base beliefs, for the allowance of more layers to be added.
I believe words of affirmation, and the subsequent turning of affirmations into mantras are a gift we can give in our yoga classes. The gift that keeps on giving, like the jelly of the month club. Please forgive my silly sense of humor.
Okay so let’s get into the meat of why this works. Affirmations are words specifically and uniquely chosen by an individual desiring to manifest a potential into a reality. The spectrum of potential is limitless. Do you want to just feel better, physically or emotionally or both? Do you want to change behaviors and habits? Do you want a certain job? Do you want better grades? Do you want to be more social, or athletic, or a better performer? Do you want to be nicer? Seriously limitless here. An example for moi: I speak nicely to my husband, even when he upsets me. We take the potential, and we speak it as if it is already a reality. In other words, I don’t say, “I will speak nicely to my husband”. Why? Because if we want it to be a reality, we must first believe that it can be a reality. Belief. Words. Action.
Mantras: invocation, incantation. Definitely a Hindu history. The original purpose of performing a mantra was to induce an altered state of consciousness, due to the “melodic, mathematically structured meters” of the chosen mantra (Wikipedia). We typically now in contemporary America understand mantras to be “a statement or slogan repeatedly frequently” (google search definition). A legitimate and quick, yet thorough deep dive into the purpose of a mantra, especially when used in meditation, can be found at chopra.com.
For the purposes of a kids’ yoga class, we want to encourage the creation of a personalized affirmation and teach its benefit when applied as a mantra. In my experience, this fits best at the end of class, when sitting cross-legged, and doing your final breath work. The absolutely amazing outcome of teaching the philosophy behind combining words of affirmation with a melodic repetition, is that once taught: done. Need a new affirmation for a new week of challenges? Done. The kids will know how to apply this skill once they learn it. It’s beautiful.
In your end of class circle, encourage the children, or young adults, to think of their top life challenge. Provide them with examples. If it helps to have one or two or three students share, and they are willing, have them do this. If a student says something like “I am struggling with getting along with my siblings,” you can then further encourage them to turn that struggle into an affirmative statement: “I treat my siblings with respect and love, and they do the same to me.” Boom. Then, introduce the idea of repeating this affirmative statement over and over, in times of quiet contemplation (at night before falling asleep, when driving somewhere in the car, when put in timeout for bad behavior). If it helps to offer up that the repetition can be done melodically or hymnal-like or robotic-like, please do so! I do believe that the physiological benefits of mantra exercise are probably directly related to HOW we repeat our affirmations.
Mala beads! These help us with the repetition of our words of affirmation. You can certainly offer this as a craft to support your lesson. You can do a quick search on how to make a necklace or bracelet that will help them practice their affirmations. Very popular, too.
I am so excited about sharing this concept. It’s so healthy. It’s uplifting and positive, and provides us all with multiple tools for turning our negative thoughts, and the challenges in our lives, around 180 degrees. Don’t we all need this right now?