• Karen Riccardi

Lay Like a Sea Star

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

If you are taking the time to peruse this blog, go a step further and as you read let your mind visualize what you are reading. It’ll be worth it!

Visualize a group of children, ages 6-9 years old, soaking up the natural beach environment by sitting cross-legged on their beach towels. Their yoga instructor has asked them to softly close their eyes, to feel their bodies ground to the earth like a conch shell taking a nap, to feel the gentle wind and warm sunshine on their skin, to listen with intention to the surroundings, the sea-birds, the waves and maybe a passing boat or airplane, and lastly, to take a deep inhalation of cool salty air through their nostrils, pause with that delicious breath, and then take a long slow exhale that allows them to leave behind anything that is not needed during this moment on the beach together. A couple minutes have passed. Without even consciously realizing it, all their senses have been engaged and tuned like a guitar. Before they were waves separate of the ocean; now they are closer to being the ocean. Their minds are at ease and I, as their Yoga Instructor, observe that they are now ready, ready to let go of judgement of themselves and the friends around them and just be in the coming moments that we have together.

On this Florida Fall morning, we are not going to practice being strong warriors standing on imaginary surfboards or find balance by standing on one leg pretending we are a beach umbrella in the wind. We are going to enjoy a piece of freedom in a group setting by taking a mindful walk on the beach and in the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico.

They’ve listened with their ears to my instruction that during this walk we will not talk. We will stay within a certain boundary and simply walk, feeling each sandy step, listening and using our eyes to find one shell that stands out to us; As the observer, I see most of the children are beginning to connect with their environment. In this moment, I, the teacher, am feeling gratitude and it would be difficult not to see it in my smile.  One student pauses to watch a pelican flying low in search for food, find his prey, dive into the water and then contently float while enjoying his sardine snack. The student then moves on. Another student has walked her bare feet into water and is skipping shells, watching each one skip, skip, skip on top of the water. It’s now been about 10 minutes of silence and I gently herd the children in towards me and say, “please walk back to your beach towels, place your shell next to you and lay in peace like a sea star.”

Welcome to Beach Yoga at Montessori By The Sea, Christina Warnstedt

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