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Meditation and Yoga classes for children

I offered classes on ‘Gentle Yoga stretching’ and ‘Meditation on breathing’ to thirty nine boys and girls from 5 to 13 years at the Albany Hindu Temple on Aug 14, 17, 18 and 19, 2017. Each class was for 40 minutes and repeated on two days (1).

Meditation: All of them practiced the ‘Counting mode’ and ‘Tip mode’ , multiple times, counting the breaths aloud along with me (2) (3). We all practiced at simulated times of practice – at bedtime lying down to get sleep, on waking up still lying, to drive away the sleep, sitting on the bed cross legged as in sitting meditation, standing on the floor like waiting in a line, walking  and running.

  • When asked how they felt, a few commented
    • I felt calm
    • I felt relaxed
  • Asked when they would like to practice the meditation, some replied
    • At the doctor’s office
    • When tired
    • When I have an argument with my friend about which game to play
    • At bedtime
    • On waking up
  • Other comments
    • An 8 year old boy said he practiced at bedtime and also told his mom to practice, as she does not sleep well!

One kid’s mom said that her 6 year old son had been practicing at bedtime from day one and claimed that he felt more fresh on waking up.

Yoga: We all practiced the movements shown in the video ‘Stretching for beginners’ (4). These movements gently move and stretch all the muscles from fingers to shoulders, toes to hips, neck to eyes. All the joints get a gentle massaging movement at the same time.

(1) Albany Hindu Temple
(2) Counting mode
(3) Tip mode
(4) VIDEO of stretching for beginners

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Seminar – East Greenbush Library

I offered the 17th seminar at East Greenbush Community Library (1) on June 14, 2017 from 6.30 to 8.30 pm. Attended by 7 women. A folder containing my key handouts  and sample testimonials was given to each participant (2), (3). 

Summary of the Feedback

I will practice this technique for my (concern) 

  • Insomnia and dizziness
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Insomnia, Cancer depression with rumination
  • Sleep issues
  • Relaxation
  • Helping me to think less

My ‘Take home’ points

  • 911 breathing, sleeping breathing
  • How to become calm
  • Breathing counting with fingers
  • All ideas, great presentation
  • The sleep techniques, I will definitely try at home

Evaluation of the seminar 

  • Very satisfied – 3
  • Satisfied – 4

Comments

  • Very thorough
  • Helpful techniques for meditation – Thanks!
  • This will be helpful with my basic Yoga and walking to keep my mind focused
  • Very informative. Thank you!
  • Excellent program. Very good teacher.

I wish to 

  • Receive ‘Annual update’ on this technique – 1
  • Interested in ‘follow up classes’ on today’s techniques – 3
  • Interested in joining a support group for meditation – 2

(1) East Greenbush Community Library
(2) Documents for download – All handouts
(3) Sample testimonials – 16

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Public Seminars

+ Journaling for Mind, Body benefits – Guest article by Gemma Philips

How Journaling reduces stress
Recent scientific studies have backed what has long been known in Eastern philosophy since ancient times: holistic practices such as yoga and mindfulness meditation lower stress hormone levels, lift our mood, and boost our academic and work performance. If you are already well versed with the many benefits that meditation can bring to your life, you might consider adopting a complementary activity, which will only enhance the relaxing effects of meditation. It’s called journaling, and it is currently a therapy that is encouraged in a variety of settings – including centers for rehabilitation for drug abuse, for eating disorder recovery and for the treatment of stress-related conditions such as depression and anxiety. Journaling is also used for patients which chronic health conditions, including cancer, asthma, chronic pain, insomnia, etc.

How does Journaling differ from diary writing?
Far from merely recording the events of the day, as is the case with diary writing, journaling goes a step beyond, in that it involves writing down our thoughts and feelings which are our reactions to the day’s events. In this way, we can get to know ourselves better – find out what triggers stress or anxiety, note down the way we tend to react to conflict or difficult issues, and jot down alternative, more positive reactions the next time we encounter a similar situation.

What benefits does journaling bring?
Some of the many benefits of journaling include:

  • Helping us deal with stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Helping us deal with challenging events and circumstances
  • Helping us ‘metabolize’ our experience – when we do not journal, we can simply block any unpleasant thoughts or emotions, which are transformed into a muddled memory we obtain little value from. Journaling helps us process the day’s events, so that we are not plagued by distressing thoughts and feelings. In this way, journaling very much resembles mindfulness.
  • Helping us track our progress – we can use our journal to create strategies to deal with difficult situations, and take note of how we are progressing in our goals.
  • Identifying triggers – journaling regularly enables us to identify the situations or people that tend to make us anxious or upset. We can analyse how they manage to have this effect on us, and either make a conscious decision to process their words and actions in a different manner, or take more drastic measures if necessary (such as limiting the amount of time we spend in these types of situations, especially if they are toxic or bring no good to our lives).

What Types of Journal are there?
Ultimately, each of us defines and creates our own type of journal. Some people find success from keeping a gratitude journal – in which they regularly list down the things, people and events they are thankful for. Others (such as those in recovery from substance abuse, for instance) keep a recovery journal, to help track their progress, triggers and setbacks. Still others keep a journal to note their progress towards a defined goal. Another popular journal is the evening reflection journal, which enables the writer to reflect on their reactions to a specific event.

How to Journal?
Journaling ultimately only works if we are truly committed to it. The aim should be to write daily, or every couple of days, for a set amount of time (between 20 minutes and around half an hour at least). If you are considering starting a journal, find a comfy, quiet spot in your home, where you won’t be bothered by noise. Make this area as personal as you can – fill it with lights, put on relaxing music or decorate it so that just the idea of journaling seems immensely appealing. Every few days, go back over previous entries to reflect on them. During the day, use your phone or keep a small notebook, jotting down any important thoughts or feelings you may otherwise forget. Remember that journaling is a reflective exercise; use your journal to become more self-aware and to make the necessary changes you need for a better quality of life.

Further Reading:
Journaling as an Aid to Recovery, Recovery.org
Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress, Health.Harvard.edu
Yoga, Umm.edu
Journaling for Mental Health, Urmc.Rochester.edu
The Benefits of Journaling, UWhealth.org

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Yoga and Meditation – Dec 12 Class

The seventh monthly class at Venture Inward was done on Dec 12, 2016 from 6.30 to 8.00 pm (1). Six new people attended. Summary of feedback  is shown below.

Scanned images of the feedback forms

I came to know about this seminar from 

Venture Inward newsletter/Flier – 3
A flier at Upstate Acupuncture on 9 & 20 – 2
From CS

I will practice this technique for my (concern)

Sleep problem
Personal use
Chronic pain
Stress reduction and quicker falling asleep
stress during work

My ‘Take home’ points

911 technique
Relax!

Seminar evaluation

Very satisfied – 3
Satisfied – 2
Not satisfied – 1 (2)

Comments

This was a refresher since doing the class 3 years ago.
Expect to use daily.
Never got to gentle Yoga part. (2)

I recommend this seminar to (specify the group with contact details if possible)

Receive Annual Updates?

Yes – 4

Enroll  for ‘Follow up classes’ on this technique?

Yes – 4

Join a ‘Support group for Meditation’?       

Yes – 4

(1) ‘Venture Inward’ Call #477-6566 to register.
(2) I made an offer of a free solo class of one hour to all the participants at my office as I could not do the Yoga part for several reasons.

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Yoga and Meditation – Nov 14 Class

The sixth monthly class at Venture Inward was done on Nov 14, 2016 from 6.30 to 8.00 pm (1). Three women and two men attended. Four were new comers and 1 continuer. Summary of feedback  is shown below.

Scanned images of the feedback forms

Newcomers

I came to know about this seminar from 

A friend
A flier in the doctor’s office
Venture Inward newsletter  – 2

I will practice this technique for my (concern)

Anxiety and to focus
Anxiety
Anxiety and Insomnia

My ‘Take home’ points

Counting the breaths using the fingers
Breathe
Tongue behind the teeth technique
Breathe and relax

Seminar evaluation

Very satisfied – 4

Comments

Very helpful
Looking forward to attending another session

I recommend this seminar to (specify the group with contact details if possible)

Receive Annual Updates?

Yes – 3

Enroll  for ‘Follow up classes’ on this technique?

Yes – 3

Join a ‘Support group for Meditation’?       

Yes – 1

Continuers
Meditation on breathing

When did I practice? 

Falling asleep: A few times -2
During the day: When I feel I have too much to do

How did it help me? 

Made me feel relaxed

Gentle Yoga

I practiced

Frequently

Future classes

I want to continue: Yes

(1) ‘Venture Inward’ Call #477-6566 to register.

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Seminar – Yoga & Meditation

I offered the fifth seminar at Venture Inward  on March 24, 2016 from 6.30 to 8.30 pm (1). Attended by 12 people – 9 female and 2 male and one girl. A folder containing my key handouts  and sample testimonials was given to each participant (2), (3). 

Scanned images of the feedback forms (w/o indetities) – PDF

Summary of the Feedback

I will use this technique for my (concern) 

  • Falling asleep
  • Mental relaxation
  • Sleep and relaxing
  • Stress and sleeping
  • Asthma
  • Sleep and relaxation
  • Energy (mental), Focus, Calmness, Sleep
  • Stress reduction
  • Stress, sleep
  • Spiritual health
  • Relaxation, when stress increases
  • Family stress

My ‘Take home’ points

  • To calm ‘Monkey mind’; I like the idea of a back door to meditation. I am going to try this! Thank you!
  • This helped me understand meditation better. Breakthrough!
  • Breathing using fingers, stretching on Yoga mat.
  • Relaxing.
  • Practice breathing.
  • Easy to do.
  • Several of the breathing methods, yoga stretches.
  • Stretches, Great breathing techniques.
  • Practice, enjoy, let it happen.
  • Don’t worry about your breaths. Some are short and some are long.

Seminar evaluation

  • Very satisfied – 12

Comments

  • I live in Cambridge, so it is too far to come for a meditation group.
  • Awesome.
  • I will most likely contact ‘C S’ to further the practice.
  • Very enjoyable, do-able, for all ages/ body types.
  • I thought it was great.
  • Can’t wait to teach the grandkids and use it for myself.
  • Would love to continue more workshops to add to what we have learned and make sure I am doing it correctly, to remember the techniques.

I recommend this seminar to (groups)

  • Yes – 2
  • Friends.
  • As always I do – to Venture Inward folks. (Margaret Kaufman the owner of this business, a clinical hypnotist).
  • Anyone -Seniors – Healthcare providers – Caregivers of ill family or friends – kids.

I wish to

  • Receive annual updates on ‘focusing on breathing’ – 8
  • Enrol for follow up classes on today’s techniques – 7
  • Join a support group for Meditation – 5

(1) ‘Venture Inward’ at 568 Columbia Turnpike East Greenbush NY 12061
(2) Documents for download – All handouts
(3) Sample testimonials – 16

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@ “Easy and Effective. It works! “

I thank Chaitanya Mudivarthy Ph.D (1), my nephew, for posting this recommendation for me in Linkedin.  I am delighted that he highlights the most important aspect of the techniques – that it suits today’s busy people who can’t spare time for Yoga and such practices.

“CS Rao (Suryanarayana Chennpragada) is an excellent yoga practitioner. He is one of the few who realized the problem with current generation – impatience and lack of time to put yoga into practice in their daily routine. His solution to this is simple and practical – ‘counting breaths’ (2). This technique works!

I have been practicing this technique since 2006 with great results.

I have suggested the technique to numerous friends with ADD, anxiety disorders, and depression. One thing I hear back is how easy and effective the technique is.

Above all, CS Rao is an excellent human being with tremendous knowledge in general in the fields of science, medicine, and spirituality.”

(1) Chaitanya Mudivarthy – Linkedin Page
(2) ‘Counting breaths’ is an ancient technique devised by the Buddha 2500 years back. My adaptations of this technique to suit busy beginners are two. One is using the fingers. This practice leashes the mind far more effectively than just counting the breaths in the mind. The second adaptation is for beginners to practice lying in the bed at night and morning to make the practice ‘excuse free’ and get them hooked on it. These have  made this ancient technique available to people of all ages and cultures.

The ‘focusing on breathing’ practices presented in this site are radically different from Yogic breathing practices. Yogic breathing practices require you to change the current pattern of breathing, to conform to the given guidelines. We are warned to learn those practices from a trained teacher, to avert potential harm from wrong practice.

In contrast, these breathing practices do not suggest any pattern for breathing, except in one mode. We passively watch the breaths, like watching the actors on a movie screen. These practices are totally safe whatever way you do them, even for children.

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