Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Just Breathe #yogaMOOC

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Yesterday I saw someone with Breathe tattooed on his arm (inner forearm). I never asked why it is there and it could mean many things, but in the context of #YOGAMOOC and all the meditation and breathing exercises, it made me think of that.

Someone had told me once about the importance of being aware of our own breathing, how much of a difference it made. But she was relaying something someone else had told her, skeptically, so we both remained skeptical.

I have to admit now, though, that it makes a difference (and I don’t know why I didn’t before, because I’d done pregnancy yoga with breathing exercises before and loved it). When I do a brief meditation exercise in any position and concentrate on my breathing, I really feel good physically while doing it, and those 5 minutes or so of relaxation stay with my body a little bit after that. Getting in the car I think later spoils it (I don’t drive but am thinking of finding ways to meditate in the car, and to avoid air pollution in Cairo somehow, errr).

So anyway. So far into yogaMOOC I’m mainly focused on doing what makes me feel good. I hear the actual yoga is intense so I’ll watch, I think, before attempting. But the meditation and breathing stuff feels good and I think stays with me a bit after. I sense if I did it more regularly it might stay longer.

I’m also trying to talk walks in our garden on campus when I can and it’s good, no matter what I’m doing while taking the walks.

On another note… I saw how Joe Murphy mentioned that he might benefit from yogaMOOC in giving him ideas of how to help faculty and their wellbeing (awesome idea!) and I noticed that I was also looking at yogaMOOC from a design perspective – how are they doing assessment? Does their approach fit their values? Things I think about as I support our own faculty as they develop their courses. I really like George Siemens’ learner orientation video btw – reminding learners they don’t need to keep up with everything (so important for a MOOC on yoga, that it should not add more stress). 

I was also wondering if I could bring my kid into yoga, then I saw the adorable header image on Autumm’s blog and now I’m seriously going to see how to do this. My stress affects my child’s and vice versa, so we probably BOTH need meditation and yoga. I mentioned this to her and of course at 6 she hadn’t heard the word meditation before and it did NOT help to be told big words in the morning. But I know in the past when I’ve exercised she has mimicked me, but I may need to look up some mom/daughter yoga moves that involve us touching or such, so it’s more of a pair thing than an afterthought, if that makes sense.

Last thing – Autumm blogged about several dimensions. Two of them are staying with me

  1. Yoga is often a spiritual, internal thing – seems strange(?) to be doing it in the open? But I’m Thinking of it in several ways – reflecting is internal, too, but writing it and sharing it is helpful to self (affirming?) and others. A lot of  phases of one’s spiritual journey cannot be expressed in words or otherwise and would lose its value when shared; other aspects don’t lose value when shared, I feel. So some parts of this will be private, I am sure
  2. Autumm mentioned a survey and research project. I’ve decided not to participate, but I’m also wondering what Autumm is wondering – what are the research questions and what do the learners get back for doing the research? I think i feel strongly about these kinds of issues – that my data get back to me in some form. That I know where it’s going. It’s probably written somewhere on the MOOC. I’m just not in it for that so I won’t stress over it

Anyway – still looking forward to it. Found myself awake at 3am (after sleeping at 1am mind you) and did some breathing exercises from the MOOC and they really relaxed me. It was good!

So… I’m breathing. And who knew breathing could feel so good?

And then I had a lovely meeting with someone but there were people smoking nearby. So I feel like I need to re-do the breathing in a clean environment once again! 

What are YOU getting out of yogaMOOC?

6 Comments

  1. Hi, Maha! How nice to see a familiar face in yogaMOOC. What really caught my eye in this post was your idea about doing yoga with your kid. I think kid yoga (especially when brought together with meditation and/or mindfulness) is amazing! Having worked in education for so long, I know that yoga and mindfulness would add to all aspects of learning. Also, in my limited experience, I’ve found that kids are much less judgmental and more playful, which really adds to the yoga experience for everyone.

    • Hey Karen! Nice to find you here, too, and thanks for the encouragement re kid yoga. I made the mistake of trying breathing exercises with her last night even though she has a semi-blocked nose. That sort of exacerbated the blockage, i think. But eventually I hope to try again and also check some child-friendly poses

  2. Hello Maha,

    I appreciate your outlook on the course and the thought you’re giving to how the techniques can apply in both a personal context and in a professional context.

    I am also new to yoga, although I have been practicing meditation for about two years now. I encourage you to use that calm as a compass to what feels right and what leads to peace. I’m a bit apprehensive about the physical practice of yoga as well… let’s do our best!

    Take care.

    • Thank you Nikoru! The meditation works for me some days better than others…would love to know more about your experience with meditation since you’ve been doing it for a while. I definitely had a shorter fuse today when i didn’t meditate at all

      • I just saw this! (Still getting the hang of WordPress)

        Meditation practice has been very important to me in most aspects of my life. I had been more or less interested for awhile but I always got frustrated.

        I appreciate how this course introduces meditation, talking about what it is (training the mind to attune to the present) and what it isn’t (turning off one’s thoughts).

        I find that, like other types of learning or training (especially language learning), there are moments of rapid progress and often long moments of doldrums, that feel almost like regression.

        Here’s one instruction I learned from a meditation center that has been consistently helpful: I’d often get overwhelmed thinking “how am I going to last (insert amount of time) like this?” But that type of thinking is results-oriented rather than process-oriented, right? Focusing on the 10-20 minutes from the beginning is already getting ahead of yourself and dwelling in the future rather than the present. If you’re able to focus on one breath, that’s all that’s needed. Then, renew that focus for a new breath, etc. This instruction has helped me feel a bit more confident and less judgmental of myself, especially on days when the focus is barely present.

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