This article is the second in a series of stress management and wellness tips for teachers and caregivers by yoga and mindfulness educator Bari Koral that we feel may be helpful as you navigate challenging times in early childhood spaces.
Dear Teacher, Caregiver, Educator,
We get a lot of mixed messages around the holidays. For example, holidays are all about food and family and celebrating. Then we get a barrage of messages about what to eat and what not to eat, and then we feel bad about what we are eating and how we are celebrating!
Pretty confusing, huh?
I wanted to share one of my favorite new tools - and one that I only recently discovered during the pandemic. Now I use it all the time, and I feel it can help us all survive the holidays.
It seems so simple, but it has given me such relief - I hope you try it.
Somatic Exercise for Teachers
If you’re an educator who is feeling extra stress this season, this somatic exercise has the potential to help in minutes.
What are somatic exercises or experiences? Somatic experiences promote awareness and release the physical tension accompanying stress.
How to do the somatic exercise:
I want this to work for you so remember- “Try it” means trying it - not just reading it. It’s different. Read this line by line and pause when prompted.
If uncomfortable feelings come up about the holidays, or around anything at all…
Close your eyes if you can, and just sit with them a moment.
Try to zero in on what is bothering you. And if you feel brave, see if you can identify some of the fears that come up.
What exactly are you afraid of?
Take a few breaths in and out as you sit with these feelings.
Where are these uncomfortable feelings showing up in your body?
Do you feel it in your shoulders? Near your heart?
Do you feel it in your belly? Your chest? See if you can locate it.
Stay with it and breathe in and out slowly for a few more moments.
The goal is to sit with the feelings and notice them as you locate it. We aren’t trying to chase them away. We are just noticing.
You can even rub the spot where you feel it (this is helpful) and acknowledge it out loud in your mind- I feel this. I see this. This is what I’m afraid of.
Affirm and acknowledge the feelings. Rub that place if you can.
Notice how that makes you feel - when you acknowledge and locate the feelings.
And now you can tell yourself it’s okay to have these feelings.
It’s okay to have these feelings.
Notice how that feels.
Just allowing things to be.
When you are ready, open your eyes.
That’s it. How do you feel? Do you notice any relief?
This is known as somatic experience, and it can be a tool to help you when you’re feeling stressed.
Going through something rather intense can bring up many feelings for me.
I stop and check-in with myself. Sometimes it can be a little scary to be willing to go there, but the mind and body need to be heard.
Just like in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping, step #1 starts with validating and accepting our feelings. Then, once the amygdala (worry/fight or flight survival part of the brain) feels heard, it can start to relax. If we don’t listen, more uncomfortable things can come up.
So, I invite you to keep this powerful new tool in your back pocket. Try it as you navigate the stress of the holiday season.
Perhaps you can also go easy on yourself. Why not just celebrate another weird year on the books. It was tough, but you did it!
Bari Koral is a beloved children’s recording artist and an internationally recognized kids yogi. Every day tens of thousands of parents, children and teachers use her music,instruction and tools with young children.
Bari has been called a “kids yoga pioneer” and the “It girl of kids/family music." She has performed numerous times at the White House and has been featured in People Magazine and The New York Times. Bari is a certified E-RYT® 200, RCYT® & YACEP® Continuing Educator Provider. Yogapalooza: Yoga and Mindfulness with Bari Koral is RCYS Registered Children’s Yoga School with Yoga Alliance.
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