Yoga isn't just about exercise, it's about treating the whole body right in this moment - physically, mentally, spiritually. Whatever your past held is over...and there is no point in worrying over the future. Staying focused on NOW is what's most important. So when we bring yoga to children, it's important to teach them about more then just Downward Dog and Frog Jumps. It's important to to teach them about the self as a whole NOW in their still growing bodies and minds. And what makes them grow into strong and healthy individuals? Nutrition, rest, exercise, mental stimulation, love...it's a combination of these things that unite the body, mind, and spirit in a child. It is through Yoga (union) that we can reach the child in all aspects of life.
The New Year always brings a focus on eating right. Wherever you look - commercials, the Internet, bookstores, drug stores, etc. Some of the messages that the media puts out can tend to be misleading at times, especially for children and tweens - focusing on how you should look rather then how you feel. I strongly disagree with those messages, but that's a whole other blogpost! I believe giving your body the proper care and nutrients it needs for the strongest and healthiest YOU is something that should be done year round. But whatever it takes to get people there, so be it.
I came across a great article by Lisa Flynn on The Kid's Yoga Resource site: Food, Mood, Behavior, and Learning - What are You Feeding Your Kids this Year? It was full of great information on nutrition for kids. I started to think how I could incorporate this in my class...I asked Lisa for some suggestions and wah-lah! Her next posting: The Picnic Game: Nutrition Education for Kids contained some awesome nutrition focused activities for kids! And I had a wonderful class lined up for my 4-7 yr olds! We started with a focus on what the kids had for breakfast, that it was the most important meal of the day and gave us energy so we could move and have fun in yoga class! We read "Little Pea" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal - the story of the little pea who would get no spinach for dessert if he didn't finish his candy! We then played the Picnic Game recommended by Lisa. The kids checked out their play-food choices and did some yoga poses to mimic the food, which was very entertaining! Ask a your little yogi what they think Watermelon Pose looks like and see what you get! We then did a coloring activity break down of the Food Pyramid recommended by Team Nutrition at the USDA. The kids enjoyed themselves because it was a fun and interactive way of learning how to take care of ourselves! Not to mention, they are able to walk away with some information that they can value the rest of their lives. You can never start too young!