EXERCISES ON THE BODY IN MOTION
The aim of all exercises is to learn to be attentive to the body. Each exercise has to be considered from that point of view. The body is the easiest objet to pay attention to.
Exercise: Glass of water
Objective: Realise the importance of paying attention
Explain that we often do things without really focusing on them, as if on autopilot, or do many things at the same time. The exercise will show us that when we don’t pay attention, something goes wrong.
Material: plastic glasses and water.
How to do it: Sit down in circles of 5 people. Fill the glasses almost to the brim, just far enough that it’ll spill if they get distracted. Give each group a full glass to pass to one another, without spilling it.
Dialogue: When finished, ask questions about what happened.
At first, did we spill any water? Why did it happen? What distracted us? When we weren’t paying attention, did we spill more water? How did we make sure that we didn’t spill the water? When we’re paying attention to what we’re doing, do we feel calmer and can we pass the glass without spilling water?
Conclusions: What have we learnt? Not paying attention to what we’re doing has consequences and we do things wrong.
Exercise: Walking in slow motion
Objective: Observe movement in slow motion and focus attention on the body
How to do it: Walk very slowly, as if in slow motion, without being theatrical. It is about walking very slowly, keeping our balance, putting one foot just in front of the other, leaving very little space between them. Note the stepping down on the heel, until our toes touch the floor.
The moment that our bodyweight shifts to the foot we’ve put forward is when we start to lift the other foot, taking off from the heel to the toes, carefully. If we get distracted us, we realise and start paying attention to the feeling of our feet again.
Dialogue: Ask: Did we get distracted? If we don’t pay attention in a relaxed way, do we lose our balance? If we rush, do we almost stop paying attention to our feet? Have we felt calmer walking whilst observing the sensations of our feet?
Exercise: We’re like magnets
Ask participants to choose a partner and face them. Treat the palms of their hands as magnets that cannot be separated. Next, choose the order in which one of them moves their hands and the other follows, without moving their hands away. After a while, change the order around so that the person who led can follow. Suggest making slow movements. You can play music that encourages slowness and softness Tell the person who follows their partner’s movements to pay attention to the movement and touch of their partner without thinking about anything. Let them lead and enjoy the movement.
Exercise: We’re a snake
The educator ask the children to make a line in height order – smallest to tallest; resting their hands on the person in front’s shoulders. The first person crouches down and gets back up, the second goes down when the first gets up and so on and so forth, so it looks like a wave in motion.
Exercise: Tension / Relaxation
Objective: Learn what is tension/relaxation and their practice.
How to do it: The teacher explains the following to children:
Being able to relax comes in very handy in many situations in our daily lives.
There are times that we feel nervous, tense. For example:
- – When our parents tell us off
- – When we need to talk to foreigners
- – When our teachers ask us the lesson
- – When a boy or girl messes with us
Some children find that their hands sweat. Others find that their legs tremble, or that their heart beats fast.
What do you find happens to you? One of the things that usually happen when we are nervous is that we tense the muscles in our body. What are the muscles? ¿Do you know?
The muscles are tissue organs that serve to allow people to move. The muscles are like elastic rubber bands. Each time that you play, walk, run or do your homework, you are using these muscles.
Do you understand what “tensing” means? “Tensing” means to exert a lot of force with one or more muscles in our body. Imagine that we take a rubber band. If we stretch it, it becomes tense. If we let it go, it will loosen, “relaxed”. Relaxing is the opposite of tensing. Relaxing means not making any effort with our muscles, leaving them loose and being calm.
First, we will learn how to distinguish between tensing and relaxing.
Practical exercise: Arm
I extend my right arm with my fist closed, and hold my fist for approximately 10 seconds. I observe what I feel (that is tension). Afterwards, I suddenly loosen my fist and my arm so that they go back into resting pose. I observe what I’m feeling (this is relaxation). A similar situation that we all know is when you really need to go for a wee and are holding onto it, contracting (tensing) the bladder. After a while, we go for a wee and feel much better (relaxed).
Facial relaxation exercises
Forehead: Wrinkle your forehead, raising your eyebrows…. Let your eyebrows fall down.
Eyes: Close your eyes tightly. Pay attention to where they feel tense. After 10 seconds, relax your eyes by suddenly opening them. Observe the difference between tension and relaxation.
Smile: Force a smile with your mouth and face. Feel which parts tense up (upper lip, lower lip and both cheeks). Then, relax. Enjoy the feeling.
Lips: Press your lips together and push them outwards. Focus on where you feel the tension. Relax your lips.
Neck relaxation exercises
Tilt your head to the right, bringing the ear down towards your shoulder….. put your head back into resting pose. Tilt your head to the left, bringing the ear down towards your shoulder…. Bring your head back into resting pose.
Tilt your head backwards, so that the nape gets closer to your back…. Bring your head back to resting pose. Tilt your head forwards so that your chin rests on your chest…. Bring your head back to resting pose.
Trunk relaxation exercises
Lift both shoulders, trying to reach your ears, like when you shrug your shoulders. After 10 seconds, lower your shoulders.
Push your shoulders back as if they would join behind your back…. lower your shoulders to resting pose.
Push your chest out… go back to resting pose.
Curve your upper back, trying to bring your elbows together behind it…. go back to resting pose.
Tense the upper part of your trunk and diaphragm, pushing out your stomach as far as possible…. return to resting pose.
Tense your upper trunk and diaphragm, sucking your stomach in as far as possible…. return to resting pose.
Tense the lower part of your trunk, making your tummy stick out and down as far as possible…. return to resting pose.
Leg relaxation exercise
Push your right foot against the floor forcefully. Observe the tension in your whole leg and after a few seconds, (approximately 10) loosen it. Pay attention to the sense of relaxation. Press down your left foot…
External physical relaxation
Once we have learnt to tense and relax, the teacher can guide the following relaxation exercise…
Sit comfortably, back straight, eyes closed.
Suggestion to guide relaxation:
First, it’s necessary to know the areas of highest tension in the body.
Where do you feel tension now?
Observe the body and discover the pressure points.
Maybe the neck?
Maybe the shoulders?
Some chest or stomach muscles?
Where you find muscular tension, press the pressure points and suddenly loosen the tension after a few seconds.
Tense the pressure points and after a short time, let them go suddenly.
Then, imagine a lift going down from your head to your feet that stops where you feel tension. Push, tense and then relax after a few seconds. Afterwards, continue with the lift until you reach your feet.
Start feeling your head.
Your facial muscles.
Your two eyes.
Your two cheeks.
Go down in the lift on each side of the neck..
Your two shoulders, chest, stomach, tummy, leave ALL of it relaxed.
Take a second trip from the head to the lower belly.
Now, go back up again.
But this time, start by going down the nape, neck and back, arriving at the lowest parts of the body. Carry on along the legs until reaching the tips of your toes.
When you’ve finished the exercise, feel the external muscular relaxation.
Exercise: We are trees
Objective: Feel and move the body according to the instruction, without thinking.
How to do it: Standing up, barefoot, feet a little apart. Get on the floor in the foetal position and indicate: we are seeds of trees, inside the earth. We are moving and getting up softly under the earth and are setting down little roots (feet). We feel that our feet, which are our roots, bury into the ground and press the earth with our toes, as if they were tree roots. We feel our feet. We hold onto the earth strongly. We flex our knees lightly. We feel our legs. Slowly, we grow branches (arms) and then leaves which move as we grow (fingers).
A group of children should feel like tall, willowy trees, moved by the soft wind. They move their branches and leaves. Some leaves fall.
Another group feels that they are tall trees with a round and broad tree top, moved by a soft wind
Then, the wind gets stronger and the trees move more. A storm comes and they move even more. Then, the storm passes and the sun comes out and we feel like strong and beautiful trees, full of energy.
Objective: Being aware of the body.
How to do it: Barefoot. Explain that the important thing is to FEEL, not to GUESS what it is about quickly.
A child performs through imitating and miming a situation and the others calmly observe and try to feel what it is about with their bodies.
Examples of scenarios to act out:
– A teacher teaching a lesson
– A dog going for a walk and doing its business
– A chef preparing an omelette
-A cat stalking to hunt a mouse
Objective: Being aware of the body in motion and the body’s movements in space.
Material: ping pong balls, marked with a color o number to differentiate between them. Scarves to cover their eyes with.
How to do it: The children get into a circle. In the middle of the circle, we put a bin. The children first stand one meter away from the bin and each one throws a ball. Do a brief breathing exercise. The children throw the ball softly to get it in the bin. Do it several times. Then, they put the scarves over their eyes and should try to score with their eyes closed, several times.
Repeat, increasing the distance between the bin and the children.