Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2017-2018: Nava & Sáenz

1. How did you and your teaching partner decide to do this project? (Please describe the context of your project, this can include influence from previous projects, context of your school, community, etc.):  

Maria and I had worked together years ago and she knew I was a movement-based teaching artist.  She was interested in bringing movement into her class curriculum among her Special Education students. We spent time discussing how the lack of movement in students’ daily routine at school often triggered many common conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, lack of focus and behavioral issues. At the time I was doing a thesis project for my Yoga teacher training and wanted to do something with children in schools. We started the project and then decide to turn it into a CAPE Artist/Researcher project where we could develop the idea into an arts integrated class using Yoga as a movement practice, the learnings of Ayurveda as part of their Science studies in Ecology and have the students develop body maps and their own Yoga booklets as an art piece for healing and self-care.


2. Big Idea:

Creating environments of self-care in challenging modern times through healing arts.

3. Inquiry: 

Looking to Jessamyn Stanley’s “Every Body Yoga” book as inspiration of a personal journey of healing  –  How can we counteract several of the effects our modern day living has on our body, mind and spirit by learning the movement and benefits of ancient Yoga poses and the life science of Ayurveda (Yoga’s sister science of health, food, environment) ? How do we map out our own individual body types, needs and abilities to understand health in our own way and create our path to healing?


4. Grade Level:

6th-8th grade, Special Education 

5. Academic Subject(s): 

Science (Ecology)

6. Artistic Discipline(s): 

Yoga / Movement and Visual Arts (drawing, writing, map-making, book-making)


7. How many years have you worked together as partners?: 

6 years


8. Please describe what you did and what you made for this project: 

Inspired by Jessamyn Stanley’s Book “Every Body Yoga”. This project aimed to bring more body, mind and breath awareness to students through the study of ancient Yoga poses and sequences and some of the basic teachings of Ayurveda (Yoga’s sister-science of life, health, food and environment).

We integrated this learning into students’ Ecology unit and discussed how modern day living is affecting our lives and specific conditions/emotions/physical effects students are experiencing in their communities and in their bodies: anxiety, depression, fear, low or high energy, lack of focus, fatigue, over-stimulation, bad posture, too much sitting or standing, etc.

We then started learning different Yoga poses that could relieve or counteract these effects. After learning an average of 25 poses, students began to learn how to create their own sequences for different emotional or physical moments/feelings they encounter in their daily lives.

Through Ayurveda students learned about preventative care and how they can manage several of these conditions/emotions before they occur or manage them with more awareness and knowledge of what their body needs under different circumstances. We explored our senses and tastes and how different foods and temperatures affect our health. The students took the Ayurvedic quiz to determine their own particular “dosha” or body type which provides more insight on how their own unique body may or may not be affected by different environments, foods, energies and stimulations. We created body maps that reflected balance and imbalance in our bodies and journaled about what we learned in the class.

Our final goal was to put together a visual book of the poses and sequences the students created to be used as a tool for themselves and others their age (11-14) that reflected similar conditions and feelings other kids their age may have that Yoga might be helpful for. ( * Due to illness at the end of the school year – the book was not finished so we hope to have another chance to do it in 2018-19).


9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?: 

The ability to learn about themselves and their bodies in not only a medical/clinical way which is taught through Science, but in an emotional/spiritual way and be able to use Movement and Art to self reflect and heal.


10. What surprised you during this project?: 

That students were able to understand the connections and the deeper realization that while we all have similar body systems, we have different body types and react to our environments, food and challenges differently. Being 12-14 yrs old is a crucial time to learn this when body image and mental and emotional growth is so important.


11. What worked in this project and why? What didn’t work and why?: 

There was a great enthusiasm to have a class which integrated physical movement into learning about science and self.  Giving the students a way to self-assess their lifestyle, health and body type involved them in self-care and health – something they don’t always have full control over. Having a school teacher (Maria Nava) who is a runner and also has a deep understanding of health and it’s benefits, made the class even more successful as it was easy to get the support needed when we either had to push the students more or choose to have a more meditative class when the students needed it.

We lacked the adequate yoga space and extra equipment needed (newer yoga mats, blocks, belts, blankets) in order for students to be fully comfortable and be able to do more in their Yoga practice.


12. How did you assess student learning?: (ex. Was it formative or summative? Was it a written, verbal or performative based assessment? Were students provided with teacher or peer feedback? Did you use a rubric or portfolio system? Etc.) 

We were able to assess students learning by first having them take a written quiz in order to deepen their understanding of their dosha.  Students created body maps based on self, food and environment triggers and what yoga poses they could benefit from.  They created, modeled, rehearsed and demonstrated a sequence of yoga posses tailoring one specific need (ex. to remain calm, to obtain energy, etc.). Journaling showed the progression of their understanding and knowledge of themselves and their yoga practice.

At the their culminating art exhibit they were able to demonstrate different poses to other students and explain what their benefits are.


13. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:

At CAPE’s Convergence art exhibit in May 2018 at the Bridgeport Art Center. 


14. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.