Using Brain Breaks to Direct Energy Toward Learning

by | Apr 21, 2019

We’ve long said that Yoga Calm is more than just a curriculum; it’s a community.

We see it in the ways that teachers, counselors, therapists, nurses, and other helping professionals connect with each other at events like our annual Oregon Summer Intensive. We see it in the dynamics of our online learning community and Certified Instructor group on Facebook.

There’s something truly special when those who are deeply invested in helping to raise healthy, happy, and resilient kids come together, sharing stories and strategies for adapting Yoga Calm to specific populations and circumstances, supporting each other through challenges, celebrating our successes.

Below is one great example of educators adapting Yoga Calm by middle school technology teacher Travis Paulsen and school counselor Chelsey Meyer, who use Yoga Calm’s Changing Channels as part of a set of “brain break” activities for directing wild energy into learning energy.

The activity can also be incorporated with our new Empower program, as well, which combines brain science education with mindful movement.

Changing Channels

This post originally appeared on the 1000 Petals Blog.

Often times when youth have experienced trauma, stillness activities can be scary and uncomfortable. I have often struggled with finding a strategy for relaxation that allows all students to actively participate. However, after my training with 1000 Petals, I have incorporated 5 Finger Breathing and Hand Tracing into Yoga Calm®’s Changing Channels Activity, and found great success!

At our training, we learned about scripted brain breaks. This relaxation allows students to find a place to go in their mind that makes them feel calm, happy, at ease. They are instructed to use all 5 senses as they imagine that perfect place. Students in our computer basics class took this to the next level! Here is a rundown of what they did from our awesome Technology Guru, Mr. Paulsen.

Mindfulness in Technology Class

I introduced this project to my 6th graders to address the high energy. I needed a way to transform that energy into learning energy.

We began by tracing our hands using Hand Tracing Breathing. We wanted to slow down, and focus. Every time the student drew up, they breathed in and every time they traced down, they breathed out.

kids doing hand drawing

Our next step was to take a picture of our hand drawn hand and insert the image to Google Drawings. We looked at each finger as representing a sense. The task was to insert a phrase and image describing that sense. During this time, students were focused on how they can represent each sense in an image and short phrase.

hand drawing with markup

hand drawing with markup

Trauma Responsive Relaxations

It can be helpful during scripted relaxations to have the students work out their script ahead of time, so when they go into the relaxation they aren’t feeling stressed about finding the perfect spot. Having it scripted ahead of time can prevent negative thoughts. This is also a great launch pad for creative writing and imagination.

Yoga Calm®’s Changing Channels

This activity lends itself perfectly to the Yoga Calm® Activity, Changing Channels. The Changing Channel’s activity has students stay on a channel, or scene, for 30 seconds or so before changing the visualization. Students can share out their hand projects while the rest of the class visualizes right along. I recommend going through three students, allow 30 seconds to a minute for each. What a great way to weave in social emotional learning!


Still Meadow Retreat entranceThere’s another opportunity coming up for our Certified Instructors to come together and learn from each other – as well as from experts on working with mental health, trauma, preschool, tweens, disabled and other populations: our first ever Certified Instructor Summit, a special one-day event within this year’s Oregon Intensive.

It will also be a time for us to hear your experiences, answer your questions, and give you opportunities to provide feedback and guidance in charting Yoga Calm’s development.

Not yet in our certification program? Join us for the Intensive instead and get on your way to making certification happen for you. You’ll find all the details of this year’s event here.

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