In 1982 Babaji said, “Start your own school.” Here’s what happened.

In the summer of 1982 Babaji said to Usha, “Start the school”. She protested that she knew nothing about teaching young children. She had an impressive list of experiences and qualifications, none of which seemed to be what was needed to run a school. However, she discovered what Babaji had known all along: she was perfectly suited to run a school and to teach children.

There were ten families urging Usha to teach, wanting to send their children to the school at the Centre – even though there was no actual school location yet. The Salt Spring Centre basement was the planned location of the school, but the preparations had encountered unexpected delays, so the school began in a bedroom on the main floor, later dubbed room 108. In September of 1983 school began in that room with 10-12 children (it varied). They spent a lot of time outdoors as well, the entire property becoming their classroom.

The students in that first year were Nayana Filkow, Maya Suess, Fainne Emery, Uma Emery, Ariel Corkum, Rajom Black, Rohan Tate, Kerry Martin, SunMoon Perreault, Sunya Dawn Davies, Ananda Aurora Davies. Also, for a short period of time, Autumn and Moonbeam.

The first classroom was in what’s now room 108. You can see the doorway (with no stairs leading to it) on the left side of the photo, around the corner from the back stairs (then the only entrance). There was a ladder to begin with, soon replaced by a set of stairs.

The first classroom was in what’s now room 108. You can see the doorway (with no stairs leading to it) on the left side of the photo, around the corner from the back stairs (then the only entrance). There was a ladder to begin with, soon replaced by a set of stairs.

In November the basement room was ready for the school. It was great while it lasted, but apparently this space was not meant to be the school location for long. In September of the following year, the school population outgrew the tiny space in the basement, so the library (then called the piano room) was used for part time overflow. Sharada Filkow and Dan Jason taught part time.

The schoolroom in the basement

The schoolroom in the basement

Outside the door to the classroom in the basement: Maya, Satyanand, Nayana, Rohan, Ariel

Outside the door to the classroom in the basement: Maya, Satyanand, Nayana, Rohan, Ariel

Some of the kids - and a couple of adults -in March, 1984. Back row: Usha, Maicha; front row: Rohan, Kerry, Ariel behind Kerry, Maya, SunMoon, Tzigani, ,Nayana, Sunya behind Nayana, Ananda . Missing from this photo are Rajom, Fainne and Uma. Between Usha and Maicha is someone we can’t identify; if you know who it is, please let us know.

Some of the kids – and a couple of adults -in March, 1984. Back row: Usha, Maicha; front row: Rohan, Kerry, Ariel behind Kerry, Maya, SunMoon, Tzigani, ,Nayana, Sunya behind Nayana, Ananda . Missing from this photo are Rajom, Fainne and Uma. Between Usha and Maicha is someone we can’t identify; if you know who it is, please let us know.

When the building inspector declared the basement classroom unfit for a school, the school was booted out and spent March 1985 – June 1986 in the home of the Jacob family. In May, the inspector of independent schools was delighted with his visit and recommended that Usha apply for funding for the following year.

By September 1986 the school was back in the main house, but upstairs this time: the piano room (now the library), the satsang room and, when there were weekend programs, the yurt on Fridays. School and programs managed quite harmoniously during that time. The school had no permanent fixtures; everything was movable, including the chalkboard and displays. The bookshelves were on wheels and were reversible. Turn them around, put a doily and some flowers on top – et voila! On Sunday evenings the satsang room was turned back into a school.

Meanwhile, a school building became available in Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island. It was for sale, and Chakrapani, a DS member who lived in Alert Bay, bid on it, bought it, and donated it to Dharma Sara. A group of satsang men headed up north and spent about a week dismantling the building and loading it onto a flatbed truck, to be rebuilt at the Centre.

The arrival of the school building. SN atop the panels, Sanatan on the ground.

The arrival of the school building. SN atop the panels, Sanatan on the ground.

Preparing the foundation: Sid, SN, Martti, Satyanand, Tao (The bus was Tao’s.)

Preparing the foundation: Sid, SN, Martti, Satyanand, Tao (The bus was Tao’s.)

Once the foundation was completed, the building was rebuilt. We had a school building – but it was still an unfinished shell. It wasn’t until 1990 that the school moved in. The main floor was unfinished, but school began that year in the two upstairs classrooms. The big room upstairs was still unfinished and served as a gym for indoor hockey games. Eventually that room also got finished as did the main floor.

In the beginning Usha was the main teacher, but over time as the school population grew, so did the school staff and the number of classrooms. For a period of time, school extended from kindergarten through grade 9, with Mark Classen teaching the senior class – grades 7-9 (although there were two boys who didn’t want to leave after grade 9 and stayed on through grade 10). Eventually, given space requirements and the fact that Salt Spring now had a middle school, the Centre School staff and board decided to focus on elementary education, kindergarten through grade 6.

Traditions begun by Usha in the earliest years continue to this day: Rosh Hashanah, Advent (now called Celebration of Light), Lunar New Year, May Day, whole school theatre productions and the annual family camping trip at the end of the school year – and of course, the much-used peacekeeping script that helps students resolve their own disputes.

May Day 2015

May Day 2015

Getting ready for the dragon parade, Lunar New Year 2015

Getting ready for the dragon parade, Lunar New Year 2015

The school grew from what was known as Usha’s School in the earliest years to become a vital part of the educational options on Salt Spring Island. The Salt Spring Centre School is a gem in the heart of the island, offering small class sizes with excellent teachers, lots of enrichment, and a sense of belonging to a community – on this beautiful land where children get to explore and play outdoors every day.

Contributed by Sharada, with gratitude to Babaji for directing Usha to start the school, to Usha for listening to him and to the many families who have been part of the school community over the years.

The De-Stress Button: Health is Just a Breath Away

destress-breath

We all have this amazing gift that we carry with us everywhere we go: a tool that enables us to burst into a fast sprint if we come across a bear in the bush, or to instill a sense of calm, clarity, and increased immunity within us. This gift is our breath. In ancient yogic tradition learning how to control your breath is called pranayama or breath control. As we begin to learn how to control the breath, we can ultimately learn how still the mind, lower blood pressure, decrease stress, lower anxiety, relieve depression, and increase our concentration. Let’s explore this together.

Adjust your body so you are in a comfortable, upright position, creating a posture of awareness. Notice the sensation of your natural inhale and exhale as it moves throughout your body without changing its direction.

Now, part your lips and breathe in and out through your mouth five times.

  • Now, close your mouth and breathe in and out only through your nose five times.
  • Still breathing in through your nose only, exhale, and draw your belly button back towards your spine to squeeze out any extra air.
  • As you inhale, fill your belly first like a balloon and then guide that same breath up into your rib cage expanding your chest.
  • Exhale, drawing the belly button back and emptying out all air. Let’s try that again, working your way up to five full, complete yogic breaths.

How did your body respond to breathing just through the mouth?

When we breathe through the mouth it directs the air to the upper lobes of the lungs. This is where the stress receptors and the connection to our sympathetic nervous system – the flight or fight response – are located. When you take a deep breath in through the mouth it fills the upper lobes of the lungs first and activates the stress receptors, engaging the flight or fight response. This is what gives you that quick burst of energy to run away from a bear.

Our lungs have five lobes. The majority of people breathe only into the two upper lobes, leaving most of their lung space dormant. If all, or a majority, of the 26,000 breaths we take in a day are shallow, upper chest mouth breaths, then these stress receptors will be continuously activated. This constant activation of the emergency stress response taxes our adrenal glands, compromises immunity, and is degenerative for the body. During mouth breathing, air and its associated prana – the body’s energetic life force – are moved in and out of the body without entering the sinus cavity, resulting in less prana being absorbed into the brain and nervous system. (The breath has been associated with life force throughout history. In China it is called chi, and in India it is called prana. Prana, is carried into the body and cells through water, food, and air. This is why pure water, fresh food, exercise, and breathing techniques are fundamental components to perfect health.)]

How did your body respond to breathing only through the nose?

Breathing through the nose, on the other hand, delivers the air deeper into the lower lobes of the lungs because of the structure inside the nasal passage and sinus cavity. Turbines, or turbinates, in the nasal cavity allow air to spin and move in a thinner rotating stream. This forceful and direct stream of air effectively penetrates the deeper, lower lobes of the lungs where the receptors for the parasympathetic nervous system are concentrated. This is our de-stress button.

The nasal breath practices used during pranayama are teaching the body how to deal with stress, cope with fear, and prevent the impacts of extreme stress, such as compromised immunity, disease, and mood disorders. Deep breathing not only facilitates a feeling of calm, but offers improved health and performance. Deep nasal breathing is also the key ingredient in the development and full use of our nervous system.

Breathing through the nose provides something else that breathing through the mouth cannot. With proper nasal breathing, the amount of prana available to the nervous system is increased and it directly accesses the brain. Prana is carried by oxygen and enters the nasal cavity with the breath. While in the nose, the air is cleaned, warmed, and filtered before it enters the sinuses and lungs. While moving through the nose, prana moves through the olfactory plate directly into the emotional cortex or limbic system of the brain and connects with the cerebral hemisphere of the frontal lobes—the cognitive thinking part of our brain.

A pranayama (yoga breathing technique) called Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is practiced by alternating the breath in and out of one nostril at a time. Forcing the breath through opposite sides of the head initiates a cycle of alternating cerebral dominance between the hemispheres of the brain. With depression and anxiety, one cerebral hemisphere of the brain is more active than the other. The right hemisphere shows greater activation in anxiety, while the left hemisphere is more active in depression. The healing powers of alternate nostril breathing prove to be significant in helping with these conditions.

By practising pranayama breathing techniques and daily nasal breathing we can prevent the impacts of stress. The breath opens the door, giving us access to our full or enhanced human potential.

Namaste
Tricia ( Priya) McLellan
Co-owner/ Operator Satya Yoga Studio
info@satyayogastudio.ca
www.satyayogastudio.ca

Reference:
“Perfect Health for Kids,” Dr. John Doulliard
“Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,” Baba Hari Dass
“MMC School of Yoga Teacher Manual,” Mount Madonna Center

tricia-priyaTricia is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-500hr) graduate from the Salt Spring & Mt. Madonna Yoga Center, RYT 300 Integrative Yoga Therapist and has earned a Diploma in Human Kinetics.

Tricia McLellan is a graduate of the Salt Spring Yoga Centre, RYT 500 hr Mount Madonna Centre, 300 hr Integrative Yoga Therapeutics, and is the Co-Owner of Satya Yoga Studio in Williams Lake. She is trained in classical ashtanga & hatha yoga systems, yin yoga, level 2 reiki, integrative yoga therapeutics, diploma in Human Kinetics and is enjoying discovering more about children, youth and family yoga. In her yoga classes, Tricia weaves together mindfulness, alignment, strength and softness in a flow style practice. She guides students in a rhythm that allows them to move in harmony with their breath and to discover the obstacles / opportunities that are waiting to be met. The word Satya means truth and she invites you to discover your truth Contact: info@satyayogastudio