SPC hosted a Virtual Meditation event with Shanice Green, a musician and yoga instructor, to allow students to relax during the stressful semester. The event, Two Deep Breaths: A Gentle Yoga & Live Music Getaway, introduced several different techniques involving proper breathing and positive affirmations that students can use as tools later to remain calm in hard times.
Green became certified as a yoga instructor at the Peachtree Yoga Center in Atlanta, Georgia in 2015. Her focus is on Chakra healing and balances through different methods such as crystals, affirmations, and music. Her musical background was seen during the event when Green played guitar for background music. She played and recorded a short musical piece on her guitar following her self-introduction to lead into the first part of the meditation event. This short piece of music was run through a looper which played the clip on repeat as she talked the participants through different breathing techniques.
Green learned about pranayama, or control of breath during yoga, during her yoga instructor training; this technique became an integral part of the meditation event. Attendees were taught how to better focus on their breath and to be more cognizant of their breathing through different exercises. One exercise required participants to close their eyes and place their right hand on their chest with their left hand on their stomach close to the bottom of the ribcage.
This helped attendees practice taking fuller, deeper breaths, a habit that many individuals overlook.
It’s important to take these full breaths to keep a good airflow through the lungs. “A lot of times, people don’t take full breaths and that’s a part of the problem,” Green said. “It’s that we’re not breathing deeply but we’re not breathing fully either. We don’t inhale fully and we don’t completely exhale either. So it’s very important to bring in fresh air but it’s also important to make sure that you have all that stagnant air out of your body”
Students were encouraged to visualize the words inhale and exhale with each breath they took and released, as well as to breathe full breaths with their stomach, not just their chest. The event transitioned to stretches, such as shoulder rolls, combined with deep breaths to help the participants loosen up. Green switched up the music following the stretches, playing, and recording a new piece on her guitar to better fit the mood of the event as there was a switch to a couple of yoga poses combined with breathing.
Shanice Green demonstrating a stretching and breathing exercise that attendees can do when they need to take a moment to relax and meditate (Northern Review photo / Chloe Lovell)
The yoga portion of the meditation event included a few easy poses to help relax students, starting with the cat-cow pose. Green led several variations of this pose, combining deep breaths and rolling circular motions in the pose. This transitioned to downward-facing dog, back to cat-cow, and then to child’s pose. The last few rounds of these yoga poses led to the last phase of the meditation event involving positive affirmations. The last music switch created a lighter tone to refresh the attendees before writing positive affirmations.
Green began the last portion of the session by providing those who attended a couple of questions to ask themselves. These questions work to help attendees recognize goals they want to accomplish, the kinds of feelings and emotions they want to have in the next few weeks, and what can be done to accomplish these goals and emotions. Green encouraged participants to compliment themselves in multiple ways, saying “it’s okay to compliment yourself,” and following this with asking each participant to write down what they are grateful for.
Yoga instructor Shanice Green talking participants through positive affirmations that participants can use daily to help lift their mood over time (Northern Review photo / Chloe Lovell)
The virtual meditation session ended with Green advising attendees to turn each goal that they wrote from an “I want to” statement into a definitive statement, saying “I have done…” to get closer to accomplishing those goals. Those goals, feelings, and compliments will then turn into gratitude once they are accomplished. Green closed the virtual meditation session with words of encouragement, telling attendees to “celebrate [the] small wins… celebrate yourself.”
This is not an easy time for many people. Giving credit for each win is important, no matter how small the win may be. Celebrating little victories, combined with proper breathing, positive self-affirmations, and stretching are little habits that students can use to refocus and remain calm during the schoolyear.