One of the first visualizations to use could be the one of Sacred Space, finding the safe, secure place within oneself:
“Close your eyes. Take in a few deep breaths. Today we all will go on a magic trip…We will have to cross the river to get to the other side…so, you may swim, or take a little boat, or become a bird and fly over, whatever you like…When you are on the other side, we will walk for a little bit into the forest. It is a beautiful forest with high trees…we are walking on the soft earth…sunlight filters through the leaves, the birds are calling each other…we are looking for a place to rest…just look around…is there a tree where you could build a tree house? Two trees, where you could set up a hammock? Do you want to build a little hut from the wood you find around…anything you like? Make yourself a wonderfully comfortable place and then crawl into it. Close your eyes. Listen to the sounds of nature around…A bird comes flying to you. It sits on a branch. Watch it carefully. How big is it? What color does it have? Afterwards I will ask you about the bird.
Silence. Feel how long you can keep them in silence. When one or two get restless, have them all come out slowly.
Breathe fully and deeply…
And when they are seated, of course you have to follow up: The bird, how big was it? What color does it have? Did it sing?”
In the beginning it is good to do very simple things, watching colors, shapes, watching what the bird did. The next time you can go listening…listening the sounds of nature, listening to the birds, song, listening to its melody and have them bring the melody of the bird back into the class.
Little children will bring back only one thing…In the first classes of elementary schools you can ask two things to bring back; the older age group in elementary schools likes elaborating…
The Sacred Place visualization can be done several times. Another option is to have them look around and meet an animal. Another one, where they have a choice to invite somebody they loved very much to their sacred place. Give this place a name, like the secret garden, or whatever they like. And make sure, they start out knowing and feeling that they can go there, as often as they want. They do not have to wait for yoga class. At night, it’s fund to go there, before they go to sleep. They will sleep better and deeper, if this becomes their habit. After some weeks, you can check, if they do this little practice and you can have them share, how well they sleep…
From now on, you can rely on your own intuition. Just sit down, meditate for a while and ask your inner guidance where to take your students. In fact, if you pay attention to that inner inspiration, it will guide you exactly and make your visualization exactly the one that is needed. You also can study other people’s visualization, get a feel for it, and then trust your own intuition. Do not be overly sweet. A good indicator is, how Native American people tell a story…down to earth…open to nature, open to your own feelings about nature…Amplify the sacred space. Go and visit an island, where you meet a friend. Tell the friend something, you would not tell anyone else. Listen, what she/he answers. To be a good friend for you, she/he always consoles and encourages you. He or she really, really loves you. He or she would never hurt you; and would never ask you to hurt anyone else. He or she would always help you to find a solution. This friend is always waiting for you. He never leaves you…
This is an early way to become familiar with the Self and it is also a protection against bad influences that come from one’s own subconscious. Remember, we are teaching Yoga Nidra to relax the body and to find the way to the sacred space within, to our very core, to the Self.
We may use visualization with this friend, taking a problem there. We may say: Somebody at school has been unfriendly and you are a little sad about it. You go and visit your friend and ask him, what he/she would advise to do in that situation. This could be considered a little training to get help from within in difficult times. Getting the experience that it works. Not feeling lost and lonely, even if you cannot talk about something with anyone. It’s a training in winning independence and a powerful ally to go through life with.
What is more, it is important that children keep that knowledge sacred and secret. You can explain why: so people do not make fun of you, so they cannot destroy the most precious feelings you have, so that your safe place remains a safe place for you.
~Reprinted from the © Integral Yoga Childrens Teacher Training Manual