What makes Joyful Hearts yoga and minfulness classes different and more interesting for young people is
I have also been trained to embody Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences into my unique lesson plans, as well as individually assess each child's love language from the outset, so I am able to meet each child wherever they are, and communicate purposefully in a learning style and language they will understand.
Gardner's scientific research cites there are 8 kinds of 'intelligences' innate in all of us—linguistic, logical, visual, musical, kinesthetic, naturalistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. By knowing how they learn, children enjoy finding new ways to access and absorb information that matches the way their brain works, giving them a greater sense of purpose and achievement, and empowers them to unlock their true potential in life.
Every one of us expresses and receives love through 1 of 5 communication styles: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. By knowing each child's love language, parents, teachers and carers can begin to meet a child/teen's deepest emotional needs, and discover how to express unconditional feelings of respect and commitment that will resonate in the young person's soul as they grow into adulthood.
Through a variety of breathing techniques, adapted yogic exercise, guided visualisation and mindfulness exercises either on an indivdual, partner or group basis, each Joyful Hearts class is designed to stimulate and nurture the 'whole' child or teen (body and mind using the breath), whilst instilling a greater sense of connection to self, others and the ever-changing, digitally-led world around them.
More than just YOGA!
Each class is 1 hour (for KS1&2) and a recommended 90 mins (for KS3-5) and are themed each term to complement the UK's Government's National Curricular. In 2020 my focus will be on health and wellbeing related PSHE topics which will be mandatory for every school from September.
Previous themes for KS1&2 have included: using our whole body to learn sequencing, geometric shaping - Maths; a study of the elements (air, fire, earth, water) - Science; exploring our senses or making healthy lifestyle choices in food, friendships - PSHE; Festivals around the world - RE; the Human Anatomy - Biology; Book or Film Week - Literacy.
For KS3&4 my classes focus on teaching Teens about the science of yoga, looking at all areas of their wellness and including anatomy, physiology, socio-phychology and neuroscience all in teen-friendly language to empower them to feel good about who they are.
All yoga mats, eye pillows, blankets and any props required for the classes are provided at no extra cost. All children require is comfy clothes, a water bottle and an open heart.
A typical class comprises of a:
Connecting circle & welcome
Creative warm up exercise or team game
Breathing technique (objective-themed)
Adapted yoga sequence (objective-themed)
Mindful meditation/guided visualisation (objective-themed)
What happens in a typical mindfulness only class
Each mindfulness class lasts between 30-40 mins (depending on child's age) and is behavioural-themed, this includes:
Connecting circle/one-to-one welcome & discussion
Warm up exercises for the brain (behavioural-themed e.g. anger, anxiety, fear)
Breathing techniques (behavioural-themed)
Mindfulness activity (guided visualisation, awakening of senses, mindful art, musical appreciation - objective-themed)
Relaxation (peaceful and calming meditation behavioural-themed)
What teachers say about Joyful Hearts...
"Chrissy has visited Spinfield School for the last 2 years for an annual 'whole school' yoga day. She fits her yoga and mindfulness lesson around our desired theme and it really helped the children embed their wider learning. Chrissy is very calm and supportive and helped all the children access the day. We highly recommend Joyful Hearts school workshops." Mr Smith, Head of PE, Spinfield School, Marlow.
"Thank you for yoga and mindfulness programme to prepare our Y6 cohort for SATs. The children really did enjoy the variety of sessions - as did we!" Mrs Harjette, Head of Y6, Holy Trinity School, Marlow (whose SAT scores showed improvement for 2019).
"Thank you for your experiential mindfulness Teacher Training, the staff feedback has been very positive and we are keen to re-book to find out how to best support our Boarding Girls!" Mrs Simpson, Deputy Head of Pastoral, St. Georges Independent Girls School, Ascot.
"Thank you for offering such varied back to back Teen yoga workshops to prospect pupils as part of our school open day. It was an absolute delight to meet you and I look forward to a long association with Joyful Hearts and how we can integrate mindfulness into our school." Mrs Dourountakis, Down House Independent Girls School, Thatcham.
"Chrissy ran a weekly yoga & mindfulness after-school club for lower KS2 pupils. It was very popular as they would race from their last lesson of the day to take part and would always leave with a smile on their face! Chrissy has a wonderful manner, speaking calmly and offering great support and encouragement. I endorse Joyful Hearts without hesitation!" Mr Dennis, Headmaster, LVS Ascot Independent Junior School.
"Chrissy ran a seires of back to back yoga workshops to pre-primary aged children. The classes were organised, fun and informative as well as related to the age groups she was working with." Barbara O'Sullivan, Head of Pre-Primary, Meadowbrook Montessori School, Ascot.
What children & parents say about Joyful Hearts...
"My daughter took Chrissy's yoga classes pre 11+ and was totally transformational! So I'm delighted she'll be able to continue her practice at Wycombe High and highly recommend Joyful Hearts." Alix, Mum of Y8 girl in WH and Y6 son at Holy Trinity.
"I am the most relaxed I have ever been my whole life". Feedback from a 9 year old pupil of Meadowbrook Montessori after her first Joyful Hearts yoga class.
"Eliot really enjoyed the private yoga tuition - I could tell he felt comfortable. He enjoyed both the yoga postures and meditation and slept very well, for the first time in a very long time - so well done!" Mum of a 13 year old with ASD, Windlesham.
"My boys absolutely loved their mindfulness class after school at LVS Ascot. Chrissy makes learning so much fun for the little ones, and has such a positive and calming influence on them." KS1 Mum.
"Chrissy is a devoted mum. Her two boys are a credit to her and I'm so proud she is following her dreams to teach. She has a wonderful energy around kids. My daughter's 'Princess & Wizards' yoga party for her 5th birthday was well planned and a lot of fun for everyone involved!" Paula, Ascot.
"My 8 year old twin girls fall asleep quickly and soundly after one of Chrissy's yoga and mindfulness classes (fulfilling my brief wholeheartedly!) They absolutely love it. I highly recommend her". Sallyan, Oxfordshire.
Frequently asked questions...
1. Is yoga about religion?
Yoga is a healthy lifestyle choice not a religion. As a Christian I am often asked where I stand in my faith because I practice and teach yoga (because of its Eastern origins and 'free-spiritual' nature). Yoga is not about religion at all and my philosophy for teaching yoga to children and teens is very clear on that. Yoga literally means to 'yoke', to unite the body and mind using the breath. For adults, Yoga is a systematic process for peaceful living with sharpened self-awarenes - what I offer is a way for young people to embrace those essential lifeskills.
Joyful Hearts yoga and mindfulness is a fun-loving space where kids are encouraged to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, where they learn tools to feel equipped to deal with the world we live in amid the challenges of growing up in the 21st century; where they can tune in to what makes them truly special and unique as a person (not just as a son, daughter, pupil, friend) and where they have space and time to self-regulate emotions and feel good about themselves from the inside out - without the need for external stimuli to 'escape' everyday life. It's about making connections.
In my capacity as a Christian and Bible Group leader I adopt mindfulness meditation to focus on God's word - my faith is strong and undeterred by 'man-made' myths about practicing and teaching yoga and mindfulness as a Christian.
2. What happens during the 'relaxation/mindfulness' period?
Children who learn how to fully relax are much happier, calmer and positive kids and make for better listeners. When kids / teens take quality time-out to completely chill, they are capable of absorbing much more information. 'Mindfulness' - the relaxation period of a Joyful Hearts class, may take the form of a guided visualisation - appropriate to achieve the lesson goal, brain-training games, a silent meditation, or sensorial activities - all designed to heighten a child's awareness, but always integral to the lesson.
3. What happens in the 'creative activity' part of class?
At the end of each yoga class I encourage the younger children (under 10s) to reflect on what they've learned during their yoga practice with a simple creative activity, designed to visually bring the class together in a fun and memorable way. For example, if the class' focus is feet, I may get kids to stamp their footprints to make a class a collage, noting the names of all the bones found in our feet; or if the class is about geometry, I may ask the children to recall the yoga poses they made with their body e.g. triangle; it's a fun way to remember a particular subject and always great fun for the kids! For 10+ years olds, I make time for personal/group reflection at the end of each class.
If you have any questions about Joyful Hearts yoga please don't hesitate to get in touch.