“Highest happiness comes upon the yogi whose mind is calmed,” says the Bhagavad Gita. Easier said than done. We all have thoughts that cause us to get on that hamster wheel and ride it continuously going nowhere. Sometimes, the hardest part of our yoga practice is seemingly the easiest pose. I remember going to a yoga class years ago and the teacher would say now just lie there and if a thought comes up don’t give it any energy just let it go. I lay there thinking about that! I never thought I would be able to lie still without a thought for any length of time. In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded by things vying for our attention computers, cell phones and any number of distractions.
This is when going to the Secret Garden becomes vital. The Secret Garden is what we call Savasana in my children’s yoga classes. It is the time where we rest quietly and let our minds decompress. Children and adults love Secret Garden time. I’ve had very active, excitable kids come in at the start of class and immediately ask if we’re going to the Secret Garden. So, what makes a good Secret Garden?
Here’s a list:
(I did have some help compiling this list I’ve been asking students both children and adults what makes a for a great Secret Garden trip)
1. Music: Rain music is number one. There is something about the constant sound of rain mixed in with some thunder that magically relaxes all. The sounds of nature are next. I don’t play any music with words. I try to come up with music that has a rhythm that is repetitious. The repetition of rhythm allows the brain to focus on nothing and seems to lend itself to relaxation.
2. Aromatherapy: I’ve tried several scents and the most popular one is lavender. I use a lavender spray. I tried put ting the lavender oil on students’ hands but it was too intense for the children. So, now I spray it in the air as I walk around the room leading them down the garden path to relaxation.
3. Comfort: Children love to use the props: blankets, scarves, eye pillows, stuffed animals, whatever is accessible. They will most likely make a big production of assembling the props before settling in, so keep that in mind as you’re watching your schedule.
4. Massage: I’m going to incorporate this into my classes. I recently have had requests for this. Take a drop of essential oil and place on the student’s third eye, drawing the thumbs over the eyebrows out to the temples and giving a circular temple massage.
5. Positioning the shoulders and feet: Lifting the students shoulders up and then pressing them down with the heel of your hand is supposed to aid in releasing the shoulders down to the mat. It is suggested that you use some essential oils on your hands to do this.
6. Breathing: I have the students take a deep breath in to fill up their lungs, and then release it making a loud “ah”. Of course, for the children, I have them blown p their bellies like a big balloon and then pop it with a silly sound! Which usually starts them giggling. But, isn’t giggling allowing them to release tension?
7. Tell a story: For children, I tell them a story about fairies and ask them to imagine the fairies flying, sailing in fairy ships or riding on dolphins. With adults, inspirational poems or passages are often best received after Secret Garden.
With our trips to the Secret Garden, I want to create an enjoyable experience which is a departure from their busy daily lives, giving the students the opportunity not to think and allowing them to simply be. These are just a few suggestions that have worked in the classes that I have taught. But the best to way to provide a great Secret Garden is to listen to your students and give them what they need. We all need time to relax and depart from our lives!