In this interview, Lynne Vidya Ogren, the founder of YogaMoves Education, talks about the journey that led her to create this wonderful Yoga program.
Integral Yoga Magazine (IYM): Tell us about the creation of YogaMoves Education.
Lynne Ogren (LO): Approaching the more seasoned years of my teaching career at the high school level, I searched for a way to stay motivated and positive about education and my new role as a middle school Spanish teacher. I explored ways to keep my students actively engaged in class. I pursued YogaKids advanced training in 2004, I began to use Yoga to teach Spanish. The connection between Yoga and school not only seemed like a natural fit for the movement work I was already using to teach Spanish, but I also noticed that on days where I felt stressed, tired or maybe frustrated, doing Yoga activities with the students brought a smile to my face and lifted my heart. The best reassurance of its success was when the “cool” sixth grade boys requested it. Another confirmation was when I saw a special needs student smile for the first time in class when he had never done so in the traditional classroom setting.
I imagined how lucky students and teachers would be if they all had the opportunity to experience yoga during their school day. As I began to offer workshops to teachers on using Yoga in the classroom, I decided to create a business name that reflected my passion for combing Yoga and education: YogaMoves Education. YogaMoves are the asanas as well as the breathing, calming and focus exercises we do; but in addition, Yoga moves education toward new horizons, as it supports physical and emotional well-being, self-acceptance and a healthy lifestyle.
IYM: What are your goals for YogaMoves Education?
LO: The primary aim of YME is to provide workshops for educators on how to use Yoga movements, breathing techniques and quiet time in the classroom. As teachers use Yoga to work with children and teens, they can unlock their limitless potential, creativity and joy in learning.
Yoga can be part of the student’s lessons and routines so that teachers don’t feel like they have to add another requirement into their already overloaded curricula. Teachers can use Yoga throughout their day to find solace. The pressures on teachers increase every year, and we lose dedicated professionals to other careers because teachers often feel under appreciated, and under paid, for the important work they do.
Classes and workshops foster inner stillness in both adults and young people. It is from this place of calm that we expand to our fullest expression of self, building bridges of peace in our world.
IYM: How has Integral Yoga influenced the work you do with YogaMoves Education?
LO: The most important message I received from my Integral Yoga training was to embody the yogic principles in all aspects of my life. This isn’t always easy, but a daily practice of Yoga and meditation promotes physical and emotional well-being. When I get busy and don’t take time for my daily practice, I know I need to return to the mat to get back on track. My Integral Yoga training helped me to grow in many ways, and I keep evolving from this strong foundation.
I was blessed to learn from many supportive teachers and friends from Yogaville. While I never physically met Swami Satchidananda, I feel his presence in the work I do. Many have shared inspirational ideas from Swami Satchidananda that motivate me in planning lessons and practicing patience as the learning process unfolds for my students. When I get frustrated or challenged during the school day, these words of encouragement keep me connected to the spirit of peace and harmony found in Integral Yoga.
IYM: How do your Spanish lessons reflect aspects of Integral Yoga?
LO: I often begin class with Yoga stretches and breathing to help students focus on the upcoming lesson. Adults observing my class have commented on how surprised they are to see the children’s behavior change to a more receptive state for learning. This doesn’t mean that Yoga is a panacea for working with children, but it is a useful tool that gradually shapes the children’s participation in class.
When I plan my units and lessons, I regularly include Hatha Yoga. For example, when we learn numbers in Spanish, students stand in balancing postures and count. This helps them to focus and develop patience in addition to learning the numbers. In our food unit, we chart our eating and exercise habits, looking for ways to be healthier and more energetic.
Before tests, I tell my students to take a few moments of quiet time. They choose from a repertoire of Yoga strategies they have learned throughout the year. These are life skills they always have at their disposal.
In promoting karmic service, we participate in service learning projects like collecting school supplies for students in other countries. On the United Nations International Day of Peace, the students made a huge peace symbol from pinwheels labeled with words of peace in foreign languages.
IYM: What are your future plans?
LO: Ideas spin through my head on a daily basis. I’m always reading and taking workshops to learn new information for future classes. I am currently working with the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center in New York State on a Health and Wellness Initiative. We provide teacher trainings so educators can be wellness role models, in turn, promoting healthy life skills to their students.
I collaborate with Yoga colleague, Sabrina Tagliafierro of Flowering Lotus Education in Canada, developing workshops like “Move Your Body, Move Your Mind: Optimizing our Children’s Learning Potential Through Yoga.” This workshop connects the science of brain-based education with Yoga in the classroom. We are developing our ideas into a book, and looking for a publisher.
It is my passion to share yoga with teachers, children and teens. Given the current challenges of our economic and social climates, our ability to find calm and navigate change are foremost in the work we do. If we can instill in children the skills that we ourselves have acquired through our Yoga practice, we will then prepare future generations for making our world a better place in which to live.
Source: by Sevika Laura Douglass for Integral Yoga Magazine
For more information about YogaMoves Education, please visit the website.