Where in My Body is My Reaction?

Goal: Develop a body (somatic) sense for feeling drawn to something, a neutral feeling, or a sense of wanting to move away. For students to observe and learn when something does or doesn’t feel right to them from information they receive from their own body cues.

1)   Give the children a line drawing of a body with no facial features that fills the entire page from head to toe (it can be similar to a stick figure). You can invite the students to draw the heart, spine, pit of the belly (the gut) and the brain.

2)   Use different color markers or pencils for this game. One color can be for feeling drawn towards, one for neutral and one for moving away.

3)   Present a series of objects, pictures, foods etc. with different textures, colors, sensory inputs smells. Have the students sit in a circle where the objects will be placed. Use some pictures of topics that children or teens would have distinct reactions to such as: bullying, helping someone, littering, students ignoring someone, cliques, driving recklessly, animals etc. Allow for enough space for the kids to engage in movement. You may need to make some lines with chalk or string or indicate where the children can stand for the three states (feeling drawn to, neutral, or moving away).

4)   Have the children physically move towards (reach), stay in place or move away from (pull) the object. Have the students notice where they feel a reaction in their body.

5)   Instruct the students to draw on the stick figure drawing where they felt the reaction occurred in their own body. Have kids say or write down anything they observe about the feeling in their body and what picture it was related to. Have kids describe if they want to move towards it, stay neutral or move away. Ask the children to discuss where they feel this reaction was in their own body and what is it that they feel.

6)   Instruct the kids to do the equal breath. Count out four beats for the length of the inhale. Then exhale to the count of four beats. Repeat his with five beats.

7)   Practice several postures such as lunges, forward bends, back bends.

8)   Discuss how our feelings are in the body and mind, and how doing the physical postures can quiet the mind especially when using the breath.

9)   Review the drawings of where body reactions were located.

10) Discuss why and where the students marked reactions from their body on the stick figure pictures. Look again at the objects and see if anything has changed after yoga.

11) Do they have a calmer response (witnessing) or a more intense response (reacting) after doing the poses?

12) Be accepting of everyone’s experience especially if any students feel resistance to the activity or unable to engage. Remember, we can learn from our resistance as well. Children who have experienced trauma may have difficulty experiencing a somatic response and may need more time.