Mentor Of The Week: Meet Alina!
The kind of discipline all children need. Inner discipline.
Florinel: Hey! I’m Florinel. Who are you?
Alina: I’m Alina, kids’ yoga & mindfulness mentor at 2030, WHEN i GROW UP during the next 6 months. I’ve been teaching yoga & mindfulness in Luxembourg for more than 4 years now at ‘We Love Yoga In Luxembourg’.
Also, working at St George’s International School in Health and Safety and Human Resources.
Florinel: Can you tell me more about your journey and mission as a mentor for our participants?
At 2030, WHEN i GROW UP, I’m part of the 6 months program called ‘The Hero’s Journey’ which introduces kids to several modern disciplines which they don’t necessarily get to learn at school, but which they need in real life. My role during this program is to guide kids into breathing techniques. I’ll start this mission on the 22nd of September, 29th of September and then on every first Saturday of a month until February. These are 1 hour mini-workshops held in the framework of the bigger workshops.
Florinel: What do you like most about your job as a yoga & mindfulness instructor?
Alina: Well, to breathe :). I don’t really feel it’s a job. It’s a part of me. One of the great joys of teaching yoga & mindfulness to children is introducing them to the wonder of breath. The breath is our ally, it is always with us and can be accessed anytime, anyplace. When we learn to pay attention to our breath, it can tell us something about how we are feeling and with this awareness we can discover the capacity of using our breath for self-regulation. It’s very powerful.
Florinel: Really? You mean, just by controlling my breath, I’ll be able to control my reaction when I feel left out at school? Can’t wait to learn that.
Alina: Yes, exactly. From the very first moment you are born to the last moment of your life, your breath is your best friend, keep that in mind.
Florinel: Why do you think it’s important to teach kids early on how to breathe correctly?
Alina: Because teaching kids from a young age about the value of their own breath is a powerful tool for teaching self-discipline and self-control. Breathing properly help them cope easier with (strong) emotions and help them navigate challenging situations in life, like for eg, as you said before, when you feel left out at school.
Florinel: What happens in fact when we breathe efficiently?
Alina: When we know how to breathe, we calm ourselves. Our body learns how to regulate itself. We’re more likely to remember to breathe correctly the next time we’re ready to lose our temper so we can avoid specific incidents and behaviours.
Breath awareness is powerful, it’s a life-changing thing. Conscious, controlled breathing helps us release stress and relax. With each inhale and exhale, we can turn off anxiety and turn on our awareness. Once in a calm and mindful state, it’s easier to become more creative and think more clearly instead of feeling overwhelmed.
Florinel: What’s your mantra?
Alina: I like to use Thich Nhat Hanh’s breath mantra, adapted for kids. “Breathing in, I am calm. Breathing out, I smile.”
Research shows that just moving your facial muscles into a smile makes you happier.
Florinel: What will the participants learn at the end of your workshop?
Alina: At the end of the workshops the children will know how to
– Breathe more efficiently and manage their emotions more effectively in just a few minutes.
– Focus on a single task. It’s a small dose of attention training, disguised as a fun and relaxing break.
– Learn that breathing is something within their control. Getting in touch with our breath is a critical factor for controlling our emotional state.
Also, participants will :
• Develop body awareness
• Learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way
• Manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement
• Build focus and concentration
• Increase their confidence and positive self-image
• Feel part of a healthy, non-competitive group at 2030, WHEN i GROW UP
• Have an alternative to tuning out through constant attachment to electronic devices.
Florinel: Could you give examples of three effects these lessons have on kids’ hero’s journey, on their life?
Alina: If they’ll consistently practice proper breathing, here’s what kids can expect to achieve on a long-term.
Awareness of the breath
Breathing exercises can energise kids or encourage relaxation, depending on what is being taught. Different games and techniques help kids connect to how their bodies feel as a result of deep breathing. Focus increases, as does their breath and lung capacity. Stress is naturally reduced, and healthy hormones are released.
Strengthening and energising
Talking about the different muscles used in poses and incorporating games and sequences will help build strength as well as body awareness and coordination. Bodies that are strong digest food better, maintain a healthy weight and can support the stress of carrying heavy loads, like a backpack. Overall, their body will also breath better, work more efficiently and protect the more fragile joints.
Balancing poses teach children that with increased focus, you can increase attention naturally, even in kids who struggle with different attention challenges. Poses and games focused on balancing skills, develop an intrinsic strength, evoke a meditative feeling, and promote stillness and quieting of the mind. This can help kids deal with the stress of living in a chaotic world where constant stimulation is a regular part of life.
Florinel: Tell me more!
Alina: It’s great for kids to be strong, but a body that’s only based on strength has no way to yield under pressure. Strong muscles without accompanying flexibility can’t move quickly, pulling on bones and joints. Yoga poses stretch muscles and through integrating breathing and movement, muscles become warm and become more flexible. They can yield when they need to, and support tender joints more functionally. So – one more effect refers to ‘stretching and lengthening’.
Yoga helps create awareness in the body through deep breathing and movement. It gives kids a way to express themselves, build a strong connection between what they hear and what they do. Children that have healthy body awareness are more confident and secure, have better posture, breathe better and have a sense of quiet strength.
Meditation and relaxation
Yoga is meditative by nature. So whether a child is holding a balancing posture, sitting in meditation or moving through a series of poses, there’s going to be a calming, soothing quality. Giving younger kids something to do as they rest on their mats will help with their attention, such as suggesting they think of a favourite colour or toy. Older kids will find it easier to relax longer with less structure.
Florinel: Great stuff in there! What should the participants bring to your workshop?
Alina: A yoga mat, unless they’re willing to lie down on the floor. And they should also bring the willingness to be patient with oneself because we can only help those who’re willing to help themselves.
Florinel: Can’t wait to join this community. Thanks, Alina. I’m very grateful to be part of this journey.
Alina: Thank you, I feel the same way too. Looking forward to seeing you there. Remember our mantra here: Insight without action is worthless. So, I’ll be keeping an eye on you, on the yoga mat. Hi…hi…