Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Kinesthetic Education

Week 6:  Nature Walk

Weather permitting we will finally see the nice park area near campus.  

Week 5:  Crossing the Ocean

Introduction:  How do we move in space?  How do we come to appreciate the space around us? 
This class explored that idea.

Lesson Plan: 
1.  Game:  "Bringing Presents to the King and Queen"
Working with Pilate exercise balls we began our exploration of moving around the room. 
2. Review:  We reviewed previous movements:  The Deer (simple rotation), The Flower (releasing and tensing of muscles), Apples/Oranges/Berries/Flowers (stretching), and The Dip (unlocking joints), River of Love (Tai Chi and Flow), The Circle (balance and turning).  Hips Go on Long Journey (simple rotation of the hips leading the way). 
3.  New Movements:  1. Swinging (Swinging from trees in the manner of monkeys-this is a joint rotation and gentle twist of torso).  2. I See the Sky:  Simple breath work and introduction to Traditional Chinese energy practice. 

Game:  Crossing the Ocean
1.  Using four reviewed and new movements and in a group, can your group successfully navigate the space in the room in a graceful and lovely manner? 
2.   Swimming.  Using the four basic swim strokes can your group cross the ocean.

Discussion:  How does this work connect with your teaching and your life?
The answer -to me- is that  a relationship exists between movement and language learning and flexibility of thought.   Exploring that relationship may yield tremendous results. 

Week 4:  Flow

Introduction:  Wednesday we practiced “flow”.  Rivers flow.  We can too.  The opposite of flow is to be stuck.  Mechanical.  Robotic.    To rejuvenate and revitalize is a simple process that yields powerful results.  Less Effort.  More Awareness.  Better Results.  This is flow. 

Lesson Plan:  Script is below.  The lesson is divided into three parts:  1.  Warm-Up.  2. Learn a Movement. 3.  Group Work:  Applying the movements to a new situation.

Connection to Language Learning and Teaching:  Applying the movements to a new situation is exactly how language works.  In the traditional manner we learn grammar in the classroom and then we use it according to the situations that we encounter in our daily lives.  Yet the reverse is also true: we encounter situations and use and adapt our language ability in new ways to negotiate meaning with the new situation.  This is the magic of language:  there are rules but we have an immense flexibility within the rules.  

The Script:
Warm-up:  Soften the knees.  Simple bending.  Gentle.  Just unlock the joints.  Do it some more.  Feel the bounce. 
Use the hands to feel the dimensions of your spine.  Compress.  Extend.
The Whale.  Undulation.
The Diagonal.  Use your hands to compress and extend the internal fibers in your body.
Open Wide:  Feel the sky between your outstretched hands. 
Rotate from hip to hip.  Feel spaciousness. 
Tai Chi:  Practice Two Movements. 
The River of LoveBegin at the heart,  Inhale.  Extend to the fingertips.  Exhale.  Return to the heart.  Inhale.  Extend to the toes.  Exhale.  Repeat on opposite side.  Waterfall with hands to finish. 
The Circle of One:  Rotate the right foot to point toward the right.  Then keep turning until you come full circle 360 degrees.   Full circle.  Repeat going left. 
Group Work:

Put four movements in an envelope.  Two movements from nature and two that we have previously learned.  Group tries to create a beautiful flowing performance piece for the other class members to see and enjoy.  

Week Three:  “Oh, I have a Spine”

In this lesson I introduced the vitality of the spine.  My notes and explanations from my script for the class are below in Section II. 

We forget about the structure and function of the spine (until we feel pain).  A healthy robust spine lightens our step and pushes us forward in an optimistic way. 

A Note about my Method for Introducing this Work:

I am using imagery, stories, visualizations and body movements to tell a story about your spine.  Rather than me “telling” you what the spine is; I am “showing” you.  I am inviting you to experience it. 

Section 2:  Script and Notes

1.      The Throat.  And the Hand.  We begin by opening the throat. 
2.      The Gaze.  Scanning the Horizon.
THe Ghazel in Africa scans the horizon.  We can too. 
3.      The Cheetah:  Feel the length of the back.  It’s long, like a cheetah prowling for food. 
4.      Neck/Shoulders.  Moving independently of each other.  Breaking habits.
5.      The Dip and The Forward Bend.  Now we begin to feel the curves in the spine. 
6.      The Whale.  Undulating.  Swimming through the ocean.  Now you feel the rhythm of your spine.
7.      Painting.  Trace the spine with our hands.  See picture.  This is the idea of the shapes we are drawing in the air.
8.      Paint 2:  Arm against Ear.  The spine moves in twists and turns.  Neck is supported. 
9.      Paint 3:  Both arms.  Different area of back is emphasized

10.      Floor Work:  The Spine is a Pearl Necklace.  Feet near buttock.  Gently roll the spine up toward the head, one vertebra at a time, like you are lifting a pearl necklace - one pearl at a time- off the ground.  And lay the necklace down on the floor.
11.      Body Scan.  Rolling.  Sweeping the arms.  Allowing the knees to fall to one side.  Holding your knees and rolling.  Breathing in the belly.  Rising and falling with elbows behind the head.  Noticing your arches.  Breath.  Enjoying,  
12.      Come to Sitting.  Play with sitting on either side.  Moving knees side to side.
13.      Roll up to Standing.  Feel your height.  Do you feel taller?  Walk around.  Do you feel your spine now?  Enjoy the feeling. 

Week Two:  Body Scan, Front and Back, Breath Work.  Notes and Scripts. 

Yesterday we did a Body Scan and also investigated the relationship between your back muscles and stomach muscles in regards to breath. 

The Scripts: Parts One and Two scripts are included below. 

The Question:    If we can discover new things about our bodies, can we create opportunities in the classroom for our students to be curious? That’s the idea we are working with. 

Quotes:  Stephen Hawking, the great astrophysicist, died yesterday.  He always encouraged us humans to be “curious.” Einstein encouraged us “to never stop questioning”.  I think playing with movement opens us up to these ideas. 

To Notice:  During your class time just notice now and again:  Where is my breath?  Am I shallow breathing into my chest? Or is it deeper?  Are my ribs moving?  How is my posture? Have I been moving? Or have I frozen my body into a certain place for a long period of time?  What are my feet feeling?  What if I smiled?  Many many wonderful questions.   
I hope you enjoyed it.  If you have any questions or you want me to include a certain movement for the next class, please let me know. 

NOTE about the Arches:  The arches-where your body doesn’t touch the floor-are areas where the human body is curved. The spine, for example, is naturally "s" curved.  But where there are wide gaps—this indicates possible stress or injury.  The feet.  If your feet are pointing straight up to the ceiling—look at that.  What force is holding them there?  Is there a way you can allow them to naturally fall to the left and right?



Part One:  The Body Scan
Script ** Note:  If you want to use the scripts:  the best way is to record it with your voice and play it back while you are lying down. 

Where are the arches? 

How does your neck lie against the floor? How big is the gap between your neck and the floor?

How big is the arch between your lower back (L5 or Lumbar 5)and sacrum (the hard bone just above the buttock) ? 

(Lingusitic note:  Notice this word “sacrum”.  It is related to sacred. The sacrum is the part of the spine that connects your left and right hip bones. )

How do your knees rest against the floor?

How do your shoulders rest against the floor?

Where do your feet point?  Out to the sides? Or straight up to the ceiling?

Roll your head from side to side.

Roll your hands palm up and palm down.

Roll your feet in and out. Towards you, away from you.

Is one side of your body different from the other?
Just notice.

Part II:  The connection between the front and back and breath.
Knees bent and feet near the buttock.

Inhale and allow the lower back to naturally arch.

Exhale and allow the back to naturally float down, like a feather.  Try not to “push” the back down when exhaling.

As you inhale, feel the back muscles get tight as you arch.  Feel the stomach muscles release and widen, like a balloon. .

As you exhale, feel the back muscles release and widen.  And the stomach muscles slightly contract.
Repeat up to ten times. 

Step Two:
Interlace your fingers and put the hands behind your head.  Elbows relaxed on the floor.
Inhale and arch the back. Elbows remain on the floor.

Exhale as you come up and bring the elbows together and raise the head.  Only raise the head a little bit.

This is one continuous smooth movement of raising and lowering the head and arching and releasing the lower back muscles.

You are remembering how to hold and release.  You are playing with the core muscles.  This play between front and back should help to release the stress that you may have been Unconsciously holding there. 

Step Three:
The Sweep.  Sweeping the arms over the head and lying on your side. Remember:  Sweeping means to keep the arm on the floor.  Don’t raise the arm off the floor.  Don’t raise the head off the floor. 

Baby Rolls.  Holding your knees and circling and falling to one side. 

Step Four:

Stretch out.  Body scan again.  How are the arches now? Is there a difference? What is the quality of your breath? 

Step Five:
Come to sitting. 
Evolve to standing. 
Enjoy a new sense of self. 

 Week One:  Movement Introductions

Here are my notes from the Week One class.  These notes are for you to look at and keep for your records of the program. 

Part One:  Draw Skeleton:  Front View and Side View
1.      First Draw the skeleton from front and profile.  Then..When finished..go back and add any color that you want.  The color is your secret code.  What area feels red?  What area feels green?  Purple?  Your color code is entirely according to your feeling.

2.      Take a foto please of your drawing.   Music played during drawing:  Keith Jarrett, The Koln Concert (1975)

FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO THINK ABOUT: (NOTE:  I am not giving you homework.  I am just giving you follow-up questions to think about.) 
1.       Look at an image of an accurate skeleton online.  Compare your drawing to the accurate one.  What is different?  Is the proportion correct or is something larger or smaller than reality?  Why do you have this perception of your body?  Note:  There is not a “correct” answer.  It’s about your perceptions and feelings.  The exercise is to give you an opportunity to look at the differences between your perceptions and reality.  How does your perception of your body affect how you move?  What is different between your profile perception and front view perception?  Did you use all the paper or only half?  Do you move well in your body?  Or do you feel constrained? So many questions to think about! 

Part II:  Journey of the Octopus

1. Cutting the Threads. (The Terrible Spider)
2. Octopus the Dancer
3. Gravity and Anti-Gravity. Floating in water is the perfect environment for Mr. Octopus.
4. Robin Red Breast. Smiling in the Forest. Sunbeams. The smile
5. The Belly Breath
6. Sway in the wind. The invisible hand is pushing the bamboo trees to one side. Then the wind goes away and you return to center. East. West. North. South
7. Reach for an Apple. Reaching. Stretching. Apples above you. Flowers behind you. Berries across your body.
8. The Deer (Did someone call my name?) Remember: The arm/hand above your head is an extension of the neck of the deer. You are looking over your shoulder. This is a gentle twist and stretch.
9. The Flower: Roll your arms inwards. Narrow in front. Wide in Back. Roll your arms outwards. Narrow in back. Wide in Front. This is a gentle contraction and release of the opposite muscles of the body. It’s also an invitation to breath from the belly.

Music:  Antonio Carlos Jobim: The Wave album, 1967, Brazil

Week Two:  Bring small face towel. B202 movement space has yoga mats. Or you can bring your own. You don’t need to bring a blanket-it’s too much inconvenience. We can do the exercise with a yoga mat. The towel is so that you have a clean surface for resting your head.


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  2. The body scan activity was feels like a Vinyas Yoga. I can feel the movement and flows well. It was good! Thank you for the novel activity! I need to give more time to my students and don't make them hurry.