Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Ask a child what a New Year's resolution means to them...
"a promise you make to yourself"..."a goal you want to reach"..."something you want to do in the new year to make a better you"..."something you see in front of you that isn't really there...no, no. That's hallucination, not resolution!" (From the mouth of a 7 yr old...I'm not kidding.)
The Alluem Kid's New Year's Workshop was wonderful and packed with fun - the way yoga should be done for kids! We had many new faces in the studio ranging from ages 5-12 yrs! A new and improved Obstacle Course to work on balance, focus, flexibility, and obtaining a goal. A game of Crab Tag to build strength. A New Year's resolution art project to introduce the setting of intentions. And of course Savasana for restoration.
Each child was given a Happy New Year 2010 worksheet. Along the bottom was a poem (from http://www.freekidscrafts.com/):
"The New Year is a time for thought, about the things that we've been taught. So take your hands and make a vow, of things to do starting now!"
The kids traced their hands and wrote or drew their resolutions on their construction paper palms, gluing them to their worksheets. For some kids, thinking of what to write was easy, for others it was a challenge....just as it can be for adults. When setting a New Year's resolution, or what I'd rather prefer to call it, an intention...it's best to make it realistic. Start small. For kids....
-Spending more time with the family.
-Helping out around the house.
-Being kind to others, including siblings.
-Doing your best at school.
-Getting plenty of rest.
-Taking care of yourself.
Having your kids write down their intentions for the New Year is also very helpful. This way they can have something to refer back to and something to work towards. Kids like accomplishing goals just as much as adults! Making it fun is the key!
Happy 2010!!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Candle Meditation

I subbed for the Alluem Teen Class tonight and I thought I would share the closing Candle Meditation that I used in class...
"Come to sit in a circle. Everyone take a candle. I want to take a moment to again focus on your intention you set in the beginning of class. The actions you take day today and the intentions you set directly affect the people in your life, which in turn affect the people in their lives. As a result, the actions you take in life can really impact many people – more than you will essentially ever know. Imagine the candle you hold is your intention. As your candle is lit, turn to your neighbor to light theirs. An intention starts with one light, one flame. No matter how big or how small, no matter how personal or how global the intention is…it all starts with one light. With one light you can truly reach the edges of the world. When your candle is lit place it in front of you. Place your hands face up on your knees, open to receive. Focus on your intention and gaze at the light of the candle in front of you. The light in front of you is your intention. It is your light just for you. Inhale deeply to the count of three. Exhale fully to the count of three. Now gently lift your eyes to the candle in the center of the circle. Know that the light from each of your candles lit the candle that has become a light for all of us. Know that the intentions you each set now affect everyone in this room and everyone you come in contact with in this coming New Year. Gaze at the flame and know this the powerful light lies within each one of you. You are all strong and bright individuals who have the ability to do great things in this world. Carry that knowledge in your heart and keep the light shining forever bright inside of you. Close your eyes. Inhale deeply to the count of three. And exhale fully to the count of three."

Monday, December 28, 2009

GAP meets Kid's Yoga

If I could squeeze myself into a 5T, I would totally wear these shirts!

GAP Body carries some of the most comfy yoga gear for women, but how sweet is this tee shirt for little girls at GAP Kids?!
Very cool, GAP!
Oh, and I'll let you in on a little secret...coming soon...
ALLUEM KIDS Tee Shirts!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Spiderman Does Yoga

The day after Christmas, my friend's 4 year old son wanted to show me his new toys. He's becoming a true little boy playing with his trucks, trains, dinosaurs, and super heroes. Trucks that scoop dirt and dinosaurs that chew on his sister's doll house. My friend and I were trying to discourage the super heroes from fighting. He understands the difference between "good guys" and "bad guys" and we failed to convince him that all his toys were "good guys". So what do you do when your little boy wants the good guys to fight the bad guys? You promote peace and make them all do yoga!!!
Spiderman was a real sport...
Palms flat, Spiderman...and breathe...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Your old mat would make a nice gift.

This is the season of giving.
Working in the city, one sees MANY homeless people. It breaks my heart to have to walk by them everyday and not be able to constantly give. I usually say a prayer for each one of them as I pass. Today on my way out of East West Books on 5th Ave., I saw shopping cart by the street owned by a homeless man not too far away collecting bottles and cans from the garbage. His cart was securely covered with a yoga mat. Maybe he found the mat in the trash, or maybe a good-hearted yogi gave it to him. Either way, I think it's a great find. Something soft to sit or lie on, or a good protective covering.
I know for me, my yoga mat is sacred. I feel like no wrong can happen when I'm on it - whether I'm practicing asana, relaxing in savasana, or sitting in meditation. I have my mat, my space, and my yoga. I wish more people could find that.
So, what can you do? In the spirit of giving...DONATE! There are a plethora of places that will accept donatations of used yoga mats. One being your local Homeless Shelter. They will be more then happy to accept them. Click here to find a shelter local to you: homelessshelterdirectory.org
There are also organizations that bring yoga to people in need who can't afford it. Little Flower Yoga for one, currently brings yoga to battered women and children through the Sanctuary for Families. To donate your mat to someone in need or to make a monetary donation, email info@littlefloweryoga.com.
Off the Mat is another great organization bringing yoga to people in need in the US and abroad. Check out the forum to find the most up to date places in need - shelters, hospitals, prisons, schools.
For other ways on how to recycle your yoga mat, visit: http://www.recycleyourmat.com/
Think about what your yoga mat has done for you. Now think about what your yoga mat can do for others. Do what you can when you can. Namaste.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gingerbread Yogis!

All snowed in! The studio is closed! It's a fine day to make some Gingerbread Yogis!!!!
Lotus, Tree, Wheel, Downdog, and Warrior 3 - all cut out by hand! Love it!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Happy 10 Year Old!

Make your child’s next birthday party truly unique with Alluem Yoga!

Located on the beautiful Rahway River in the historic Droescher’s Mill, the peaceful atmosphere sets the stage for a birthday party your child will never forget.

We celebrated Alex's 10th Birthday today and had a blast!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No two snowflakes are alike!

There is scientific proof that states no 2 snowflakes are alike....this holds true for people as well. This weekend in my Alluem Kids 8-12 class we talked about the many differences between people....different shapes and sizes, different color hair and eyes, different skin tones, different voices, different likes and dislikes, different personalities...the list is endless. The kids know that these difference are what makes us unique - we each are different in our own special ways and we can embrace the beauty in that!
I had the kids think about what makes them different from other people, what makes them unique. I wanted them to go deeper just the surface differences and to really look at what makes themspecial, what makes them who they are. I had them narrow it down to one word. One word to describe what makes them special. After they meditated on this, I laid out foam snowflakes all over the room. I was sure to make them all different...yes, I made adjustments to 25 little foam snowflakes so they would ALL be different! Each child picked one and wrote their word on the snowflake - Unique, Charitable, Enthusiastic, Friendly, Loving, Miracle, etc. When all the snowflakes were hung, they chose a pose that best related to the word they picked - Candlestick for Miracle, Tree for Charitable, Frog Jumps for Enthusiastic....I love watching them think so carefully about what they can do to best represent who they were. It really said a lot about their personalities. A great lesson for all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Your Children

From "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran
"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies, but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you,
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows might go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable."

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Year's Workshop

The Alluem Kid's New Year's Workshop is now open for registration!
Ring in the New Year (slightly early) at Alluem Yoga!
Wednesday, December 30th
10:45am-11:45am
ages 7-12
Sign up in person or online by clicking Schedules & Events at AlluemYoga.com (page over to December 30th and look for Kid's Yoga). Space is limited, so sign up today!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Meditation Owl

I believe it's never too early to start teaching kids about Meditation. In the Alluem Kids 4-7 year olds class today, I had the kids do an arts and crafts project to help them learn about what Meditation is all about. I started by having them tell me what Meditation means to them. One told me, "It means you clear your head.". Another told me, "It's just like praying." Kids get it. They may not be able to sit still for too long with their thoughts, but they don't have to! They don't need a dark room with a candle and quiet music. A meditative state is natural for a young child. They are naturally more imaginative and creative. For instance, they get what it means to relate a color to a feeling. As adults we sometimes forget to activate this imaginative part of our brain, and over time it becomes harder and harder to do so. Which is why I am a strong believer of keeping an active imagination and always staying young at heart!
So, why Owls? Owls are wise animals. It just seemed right to pick an Owl. Using the construction paper, I cut out the shapes for the kids to glue together. They then traced their hands to use as the wings. On each of the fingers we wrote a common Mantra, "Sa, Ta, Ma, Na" (See Bog Post: Yoga Mudras). On the belly of the owl, I wrote a little poem for them:
(To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Sit up tall. Close your eyes.
Hands on knees. Heart to the sky.
Deep breath out. Deep breath in.
Just relax and look with in.
(then incorporate the mantra)
Sa, Ta, Ma, Na,
Sa, Ta, Ma, Na
Hearing them sing this was just adorable. Knowing they took home a skill that may help them throughout their lives, is even more beautiful.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sing Your Own Song

I found a great reading for tomorrow's class by Ashley Rice. She has some great inspirational books for kids that are definitely worth checking out. Her positive messages are full of encouragement!
This one is called "Sing Your Own Song":
Wherever you are is the place you're in.
It's the way things are. It's where you're standing right now.
You're learning to follow your own bright star.
And even if things seems a little strange to you now,
you'll work your way through it somehow.
Just take a little step, reach out further,
get a little closer to the place you belong.
In your own skin, in your own way...
you're singing your own song.
To see more of Ashley's work, visit her website: http://www.ashleyrice.com
You can also purchase her product designs that she has created for Blue Mountain Arts: http://www.sps.com/p+ashley/authors/show.html

Monday, November 30, 2009

Breathe In, Breathe Out

I added a new toy to my bag - The Hoberman Sphere! You may or may not be familiar with this toy. Many people know this Chuck Hoberman design from the infamous version at the Liberty Science Center. The one there hangs from the atrium ceiling, measures 700 pounds and expands to 18 feet! The one we used was of course nowhere nearly as big!
My friends at Yoga Calm gave me the idea to incorporate this toy into the classroom as an effective tool for teaching relaxed breathing and lung capacity. As children are often kinesthetic learners, they may at times need a physical activity to help them get in touch with the world around them. I allowed each of the kids to lead the class in this exercise taking the sphere with both hands and focusing on their breath. As they inhaled, they expanded the the sphere as if it was their lungs taking in as much air as they can. As they exhaled, the sphere contracted. This calming deep breathing centers and relaxes both children and adults - reducing stress, focusing energy. The Hoberman Sphere playfully encourages the use of this breathing...not to mention it's great to play catch with!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Big Gifts for Little Yogis

Black Friday, Cyber Monday...have you finished shopping yet? The holidays are almost here! Deep breath in...deep breath out. The days leading into the season can sometimes be stressful - decorating, cleaning, cooking, shopping, wrapping, etc., etc. As you try to breathe and remember to keep the SPIRIT of the season...allow me to offer some gift suggestions for the kids!


























































Monday, November 23, 2009

So thankful...

We have so much to be thankful for!
Our friends and family!
Our homes! Our dogs!
Our teachers!
For nature! For the sun!
For our studio! For yoga!
And for the community pool!
Those are just a few things that the Alluem Kids are thankful for.
What are you thankful for??

Monday, November 9, 2009

Manadalas

With all of the beautiful leaves falling down around us at the mill, I decided to break out the Fall Mandala. A mandala is loosely translated to mean "circle with a center", but it is more then just a shape. It is a tool that can be used for meditation to create peace and calm for those creating or those observing. The circle contains a center that, surrounded by a symmetrical image, becomes whole. As imagination leads the children in coloring the image, they can find this wholeness in the picture as well as finding a bit of wholeness in themselves.
The image below can be found in the book:
Kids' Mandalas by Sterling Publishing sold exclusively at B&N (9781402717208).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fall Fun

Thanks to all the kids who came out for Alluem's Special Fall Workshop! With a focus on the fall season, "Tree Pose" was a necessary pose of the day! I broke out a wonderfully empowering picture book called "The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story" by Uma Krishnaswami. When the little girl in the story is chosen to be a tree in the school play, she finds herself very wobbly and uneasy. After signing up for a local children's yoga class, she learns how to breathe slowly and deeply, to "stretch like a rubber band", and coordinate her arms and legs in "smooth, slow movements." One day during class she realizes that "I can change my body by how I feel inside. If I'm quiet inside, then my body will be still".
Being aware of your body is an amazing skill for an adult let alone a child! Whether that child feels comfortable, clumsy, graceful, or awkward - the important point is that child is feeling. With use of the breath and movement, that child can learn to deal with whatever feeling arise.
To illustrate the point, I had the kids play the "Tree Game". Splitting up into 2 groups, the first round consisted of one group coming into Tree Pose scattered around the room, in a forest of sorts. The second group was told to run around, laugh, and be silly. The only rule was they could not touch the trees. The trees would have to do their best to focus with all that was going on around them. Round 2 consisted of one group coming back into Tree Pose, while the second group simply walked around the room, circling the trees, whistling, talking, but nothing rowdy. In the third and final round, while one group came into Tree Pose, the other went into Child's Pose in front of each tree. They were to be a rock, a drishti, a focal point for the trees.
We then discussed which round was the easiest for the trees and which was the hardest. How much strength did it take for the trees to balance with all the distraction? Did the trees appreciate when the other children acted as a rock for the trees? How can they use this focus in every day life when there is a lot going on around them? How can they learn to relax and let go when things quiet down?
There is so much to learn from being a tree!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall Break Classes!

Kids off from school tomorrow? Bring them to Alluem!
We'll be holding special Fall Break Classes:
Alluem Kids - ages 6 and up
11am-12pm
$15
Storytime Yoga - ages 2-6
12:15pm-12:45pm
$8
Parents welcome!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Obstacle Course

This was just fun!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Benefits of Children's Yoga on Good Morning America

Good Morning America had a wonderful piece today about the benefits of yoga for children. Doctors are beginning to embrace the use of yoga to treat ailments from Cancer to ADHD.
Click here to view the link.
Some of the participants in the segment are just a few of the finest Little Flower Yogis . Having become a certified Children's Yoga Instructor with Little Flower Yoga, and trained with some of the most knowledgeable teachers in the practice of Children's Yoga, I am so proud to have found out that Good Morning America filmed part of their feature at the New York City school with a Little Flower teacher! Jennifer Cohen, founder of Little Flower Yoga, has put together such a wonderful group of teachers to help spread the gift of yoga to children. Part of their mission statement states that,
"Little Flower Yoga grew out of a desire to see all children embrace their potential, and to help children live their lives with joy, secure in the knowledge that the world holds great wonders for them and that they have great gifts to share with the world".
This is all we can really hope for our children - that they be given the chance to become all they can be. And if they can use yoga as a tool to get them to that point, then I and other Children's Yoga Instructors couldn't be happier to aid in that process and bring the practice of yoga to them. Whether they are children suffering from an ailments, like the ones in the segment, or if they are healthy children, ALL benefit from yoga each in their own ways.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Next Session

Alluem Kids next session is starting soon!
Sign up today - just call (908.276.YOGA) or stop by the studio!
8 week session starting
Wednesday, November 11th for Teens & Sunday, November 15th for Kids!

Make-up Class for first session (ages 8yrs-12yrs) will be
Sunday, November 8th, 2-3pm! Drop-ins welcome!

Alluem Kids~ages 4-7: Sundays, 10am-11am
Alluem Kids~ages 8-12: Sundays, 11:15am-12:15pm

Alluem Teen: Wednesdays, 6:15pm-7:15pm
$96

Alluem Baby and Me ~ 4 week session starting Saturday, November 14th ~ ages 6wk-12mo. and mom, 12:45pm-2:00pm.
$48

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Headstands

Headstands must be approached very slowly with children. As children are often fearless, showing a child a headstand and saying, okay, you're turn, can end in disaster! To avoid injuries, we started our headstand prep with Dolphin Pose, first on our knees and then with straight legs- kind of like a Downward Facing Dog with your forearms on the ground, hands clasped together. Why is this Dolphin Pose? Insert opportunity for what my teacher, Jennifer Cohen of Little Flower Yoga, calls "Teachable Moments". A "Teachable Moment" is using any opportunity to add educational information to the class. So while the children are holding Dolphin Pose developing upper arm and core strength, we discuss that the shape our bodies are in resemble the shape of a dolphin. As we rock forward bringing our chins to our hands or the floor and then back up, we resemble a swimming dolphin. Dolphins as we know, are not fish even though they live in the ocean. They are mammals with lungs like us, and therefore need to swim near the surface, allowing their blowholes to take in air to breathe. So we exhale coming forward, inhale pushing back - concentrating on our breath is important especially in strenuous poses.The students were welcome to stay in Dolphin to work on strength or move on. The next step is to place your head on the ground between your interlocked fingers, elbows under your shoulders. With your seat lifted high, slowly walk the feet in until they feel like they're going to lift off the ground. I personally love this part of a headstand - take off! Using the wall or my help, the kids were welcome to get to that take off point and then bend the knees and come up into a headstand. Of course many of them wanted to try! Who doesn't love being upside down?! I know I spent most of my childhood hanging upside down from the Monkey Bars! And not to mention, what a great opportunity to look at the world from a new angle!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Volcano Breath

I include a breathing activity either in the beginning or end of every class I teach. Today's activity was the Volcano Breath. Sitting in a cross legged position, inhaling deeply, the children were instructed to fill the belly with air followed by the lungs right up into their throats until they couldn't hold anymore air. They were also to move their arms, starting with hands at hearts center, mirroring their breath, until their arms were straight up to the sky when they could hold no more air. And that's when the volcano explodes! They let all the air rush out, folding forward, letting their arms float to the ground. We talked about what our volcanoes could be filled with, if they could be filled with anything. A popular choice was money, but I wanted our volcanoes to be filled with LOVE. I told the children to imagine what it would be like if volcanoes exploded with LOVE instead of lava. To make it personal, I had them focus on somebody in their life who meant a lot to them. When they all had a picture of that person in their heads, they filled up their whole selves with LOVE, and then exploded once again releasing that LOVE out to that someone special. And then we drew....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Storytime

Looking for a good book with some great content? These are some that I've used for Yoga Storytime and some I can't wait to share with the kids:







































Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall is here



Fall is here!!! The view of the Rahway River behind the studio is breath taking! We are so lucky to be surrounded by such natural beauty at Alluem. Come visit and enjoy the space, even if you're not taking a class at the time. Feel free to sit on the deck and enjoy the crisp air! Bring the kids! Skip some stones - but be mindful of the ducks!
Namaste!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Body Awareness

You often hear your yoga instructor telling you to focus on a particular body part while practicing certain poses - "make sure your knee is aligned with your ankle", "turn your hips to face forward", "make sure all edges of your back foot is pushing into the ground". It's true we don't often think about what our body parts are doing through out the day unless we are physically putting them into action. We rely on our sensory receptors to get us through the day with out falling over or bumping into walls.
Some children, however, can show delayed proprioceptive development which can make life for that child very frustrating. These children often show signs of clumsiness, have trouble manuvering tiny objects, may use too much or too little force - such as opening and closing things or even hugging, and may tend to chew on or put things in their mouths. Often times this is a natural delay and just takes time to mature as the child does.
Yoga is a wonderful way to aid in that process. First and foremost, a regular yoga practice will help strenghten muscles to aid in their growth, improving proprioception. Games and activities are also used in children's yoga to further this development - and since children love to play, you can't go wrong with games!
The Hula Hoop Pass is a game I played with the class to help the children with their body awareness. Joining hands and coming into a circle, with a hula hoop around one child's arm, the children were directed to pass the hula hoop without breaking the circle or using their hands. The kids can use their arms, legs, head, neck, anything they can to get the hula hoop to the next person. The kids have a lot of fun with this one while becoming aware of cause and effect - how can I move my body to pass this hoop on to the next person? Even the hoop alone resting on different body parts helps stimulate the sensory receptors. Put this activity to upbeat music and challenge the kids to see how fast they can go makes it that much more entertaining!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Facebook

Alluem Yoga is on Facebook! Click on the link here to become a fan or follow the link in the sidebar! Thank you for your continued support!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Solar Plexus -Our Inner Sun

Kids love to yell. Nothing wrong with that. We all need to yell sometimes! The HaKriya is the perfect way to focus on that practice. The HaKriya is said to stimulate your entire body while improving your circulation and sharpening mental clarity. I had the kids begin HaKriya by focusing on their Solar Plexus or their "Inner Sun". The Solar Plexus is that space between our chest and our belly button. I instructed them to breathe in and reach up with one hand. We pretended that we were grabbing a piece of Sunshine and pull into our Solar Plexus. Now that sunshine is so powerful that it causes us to make a “Hah!” sound. Then we’re going to alternate arms and do it on the other side, one right after the other. And all this sunshine is going to warm up our bodies real fast! The kids enjoyed this and smiled their way through the "Hahs!". When we were done I asked what can we do with all this Inner Sun? Besides using our energy to move on to our Sun Salutations, with our inner sun we can feel warm, bright, powerful, confident. I reminded the kids that if they’re ever afraid of something they can think about pulling out that Inner Sun inside of themselves and shine like the sun! I drew this worksheet up for them to use:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Play List

Making the class ALL ABOUT THE KIDS is the most important thing...even if it means listening to Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers (who are slowly growing on me, btw). I've found some great kid friendly music that I've been using in class that I thought I'd share with you. This play list is good for 8-12yr olds:
-Hello Beautiful - Jonas Brothers
-Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
-Colors - Kira Wiley
-The Climb - Miley Cyrus
-The Best Day - Taylor Swift
-Dream - Miley Cyrus
-Fireflies - Owl City
-Love is On its Way - Jonas Brothers
-With My Own Two Hands - Jack Johnson
-Ordinary Miracle - Sarah McLachlan
-Walk Tall - Ziggy Marley
-Love, Peace, and Freedom - David Newman
-Namaste - Kira Wiley
-Simple Gifts - Jewel
-Hearts Awakening - Parijat

Monday, September 28, 2009

Building Confidence with Friends

When you ask a group of children to sit back to back with each - it's interesting to see who will move and who will hesitate. Every child has his or her own story, but a yoga class is built on trust. Trusting the teacher - trusting each other. Simply getting to know each other is key. We played a game I learned in my teacher training with Little Flower Yoga in NYC. My amazing teacher, Jennifer Cohen, made sure we were equipped with a wealth of knowledge regarding child development as well as plenty of games and activities to stimulate the development of a child. We played many of the games in the training ourselves to gain the full experience. The one I used in this class was called "Cross the Line". Placing 2 pieces of masking tape on the ground in parallel lines, the children stood face to face behind the lines. I read a series of questions, some fun, and some designed to make the child think. When the statement rang true for the child, he or she would cross the line and make eye contact with the others that they now had something in common with.

For example, "Cross the Line if you...":
- have a pet.
- play an instrument.
- can swim under water.
- love to read.
- don't like the dark.
- have cried this week.
- have helped someone this week.
- feel beautiful/handsome today.
- have ever been afraid of someone.
- have ever felt embarrassed.
- enjoy feeling peaceful.
- have done something you're proud of.
Some of the children needed encouragement to actually look in the eyes of the others, some were very comfortable. We discussed how it made them feel afterwards - relaxed, proud, apprehensive...
After this activity, I introduced the Warrior Series. Warriors are strong and bold. Warriors stand up for what they believe in. And that's the confidence that we want to see in our children and the strength children want to feel. Warriors have to keep focus, so we worked with Warrior 1 in partners. Facing each other and maintaining eye contact, we gave our best Warrior stares! Warriors also have to stay in the present and be aware of what is happening around them right now! Not what already happened and not what is to come, and that's what Warrior 2 is about - balance. Keeping your torso centered, not leaning to far forward or too far back, but staying right in the mi
ddle, balanced.
Which brings us to the worksheet below! After practicing Warrior 2, we chatted a bit about staying balanced - about staying in the present. We looked at the past and staying with relationships, I had them list the people who have helped them in the past. We should be grateful and not forget those people. Keeping them just in reach is what makes them special and keeps them in our memory. We talked about the importance of staying present in all situations, especially when we need to help ourselves. We talked about the future. On the worksheet I had them list ways that they could help in the future. Unknown to me, this particular group of kids were already actively helping the future - participating in fundraisers for local and global causes, as well as raising money on their own by selling lemonade or hand made bracelets. My heart was filling up with love for these beautiful souls!We ended the class with Back to Back Breathing - staying aware of their partners breath and maybe even syncing their breath. I could see they were already starting to become more comfortable with each other and themselves.




Monday, September 21, 2009

Yoga Mudras

All kids know at least one Mudra - a Thumbs Up, the "OK" symbol, the traditional Peace Sign, made with two fingers in the shape of a V, the Hawaiian "Hang Loose" symbol with the pinky and thumb extended. A traditional picture of a Yogi usually shows one sitting tall with his or her hands in Jnana Mudra (index and thumb touching). But what is a Mudra? A Mudra is also known as Hand Yoga. It’s placing your hand into a certain shape and concentrating on the meaning of that shape. Each finger has both a sound and a meaning that can be used to help a child understand the idea of a Mudra. I drew this visual to aid in that process and made a copy for each child:
(image coming soon)
Over the first finger, I had them write Sa. Sa is the Self. I had them think of one or two words that describes them and write them down the first finger. I reminded them to use their own words, not words that someone else may use to describe them, since children are often labeled at home and school. I had them think about everything they love about themselves because we are all divine individuals each in our own ways.
Over the second finger I had them write Ta. Ta is emotions or feelings. I had them think of one or two feelings they were feeling right at that moment. I reminded them to always good check in with how they are feeling. Sometimes things get so crazy we forget to look inside to see how we are really feeling about something. Are we happy? Are we sad? And to remember feelings come and go. One can be happy one second and sad the next. Emotions are funny like that.
Over the third finger I had them write Ma. Ma is family (and often a baby's first word). I had them think about their families - the family they live with and the family they don’t live with. There is a special bond that one has with all members of their family no matter where they are – and even when it seems like that bond may not be there, it is. Families are constantly changing and that’s okay because family members always have a special place in our hearts. Down the third finger, the wrote one or two words to describe their family.
Over the last finger, I had them write Na. Na is creativity. I had them think about how creative they are - about one or two activities that they enjoy doing that keep their creative juices flowing. It could be anything that sparks the imagination – drawing, writing, painting, singing, dancing, YOGA. Or even style – how you dress, the colors you like, or how your do your hair. It can be anything! Even daydreaming! Any creative use of the imagination is important.

Once all the fingers were labeled, they placed the worksheets in front of them with hands face up on their knees. Remembering to be mindful of their breath as always, they were given the option to touch their thumb to each finger, thinking silently about the word or words you wrote down on each of your fingers. Or thinking of the meaning of each finger – Sa is myself, Ta is my feelings, etc. Or simply moving their fingers, making the sounds, and thinking of nothing at all...the ultimate goal.
The children respected that yoga is not just a form of exercise. They seem to get that right off the bat. We talked about how yoga is also a reflection of ourselves, a time to look inside and maybe ask, what's going on in there? It doesn't mean they need to "figure out" what's going on in there, but just be aware. Yoga is about being aware of themselves, how they feel, what they think, and then accepting what comes up - no matter what that may be.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yoga Zoo

A camel in Utrasana. A dog in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. A cat in Marjaryasana. And then there's Dead Bug.
It doesn't get much cuter then this at the The Yoga Zoo! Adorable plush animals doing the pose inspired by its name. Each animal comes with a little booklet explaining the pose to honor the traditional practice.

Visit The Yoga Zoo! www.theyogazoo.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Open Your Heart

Our first class with Alluem Kids was themed around opening our hearts. For many students, it was their first class. Some came encouraged by a friend, others through their parents. You could tell by their faces they did not know what to expect. I encouraged them right in the beginning to ask questions whenever they arose. A typical yoga class for a child is the complete opposite of a typical adult class. There will be very few times when it is completely silent - and conversation is expected. Children have questions and they should not be ignored, even the silliest ones.
After discussing what yoga meant to everyone, we did several heart opening stretches. Children spend most of their days slumped at their desks, developing poor posture. A simple reminder to bring their shoulders up, back, and down can do wonders! Sitting in Baddha Konasana (Bound Ankle or Butterfly Pose), hands behind them resting on their floor, they opened their hearts up. Each child stated their favorite color and shined their colored Heart Lights to the sky, leaning into the natural curve in their spine, lengthening with deep inhales. We talked about what it means to keep an open heart...not only physically, but also to keep an open heart to other people in our lives or going new places or trying new things. It's good to be aware and open to all new things in our lives, especially at their age.
During Savasana (Deep Relaxation), a placed a Heart Message on their each of their chests. A simple piece of construction paper cut into heart shape with a reminder to "Keep An Open Heart". When the kids "woke up" from their relaxation, their little smiles upon seeing their gift said it all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Schedule

The fall schedule has been posted on Alluem's Website!
Alluem Kids will begin on Sunday, September 13th

Ages 4-7yrs - 10am-11am
Ages 8-12yrs - 11:15am-12:15pm

8 week session only $96!!