Thursday, April 29, 2010

Children Live What They Learn

Recently, one of my friends, who also happens to be an Alluem Mom-to-Be, had a most wonderful Baby Shower. Her mother-in-law had framed a poem written by Dorothy Law Nolte that I instantly loved and wanted to share here:

Children Learn What They Live

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

We must be so careful what we teach our children, intentionally or unintentionally. They pick up on everything and while none of us are perfect, as long as we strive to do the best we can and live in the present, so will our children. This poem was a great find! Thanks, Michelle! We can't wait to have you back with your new bundle of joy at Baby & Me Yoga!

Baby & Me Yoga is a 6 week session postpartum class for mothers with babies from 6 weeks to 12 months old that starts May 1st. It's a wonderful transition from the pre-natal class, which is held on Saturdays, 11:15am-12;30pm. Baby & Me enables mothers to continue their yoga practice and foster an ongoing maternal sense of community. A typical class emphasizes postures designed to tone the abdominal muscles and realign the inner body. Special attention will be given to post-pregnancy recovery due to epidurals or Caesarean sections. Most importantly, Baby & Me classes are a great way for mothers to connect physically, emotionally, and spiritually with their babies.

Sing up today: - workshops tab

OR purchase a package for a friend! Alluem Yoga Gift Cards can be used for Baby & Me Yoga classes! Makes a great Baby Shower gift!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Warms My Heart

Towards the end of each Alluem Kids Birthday Party, I break out the Indian Singing Bowl. Kids are always amazed by this instrument. Ringing this bowl usually brings immediate silence to the room as it is a sound most are not accustomed to. The beautifully, captivating sound that is made from the bowl by hitting the side with a wooden mallet, carries a vibration through the air and into hand of the person holding it. By running the mallet along the edge of the bowl after hitting it, one can carry out the vibration making the bowl "sing"....much like high pitch singing you can produce on a crystal glass by running your finger around the edge (like I used to do in fancy restaurants on Thanksgiving when I was little. "This is why we can't have nice things.").

I explain to the kids that yogis use these bowls while they meditate to reinforce the practice of being mindful. After a brief discussion on this, I explain how we are going to use the bowl to honor our birthday child. Everybody will get a chance to hold and ring the bowl. As the bowl comes to you, hold it flat in your hand and silently think of a wish you would like to make for the birthday child. It can be anything from wishing he or she receives happiness and peace the entire year through or wishing he or she gets the present they are hoping for. Whatever the wish is, take a deep breath in and blow the wish into the bowl. Then take the mallet and ring the bowl. Let the vibrating sound of the bowl carry your wish all the way from your hands into the birthday child's heart. The kids love this.

This past weekend at a 9 year old's birthday party, after the first child rang the bowl, I simply asked the birthday girl if she felt that. She nodded, and said, "Yes, it made my heart feel warm." The bowl went around a little further to a family friend, who was only approaching 3 years old, but wanted to participate in the class (and she did a great job of keeping up! Even through Sun Salutations!). She took the bowl flat in her hand, blew into the bowl, and with an ear to ear smile she gave the bowl a great big ring! I looked at the birthday girl and she whispered, "That was the warmest one of all." I could've cried right then and there. Beautiful.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Yogi, Yogi, What do you see?

Being mindful means engaging the 5 senses that we are born with - sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch. This weekend with the Alluem Little Kids, we honed in on our sight. Kids are often care-free at this age, and as a parent, you'll probably find yourself repeatedly saying - "Watch where you're going. Pay attention to where you're stepping. Look both ways." Kids need those reminders as they are learning to be mindful in their actions, to be aware of what they are doing.
A couple of simple games that can aid in the development of really "seeing" are probably some you are familiar with:
I-Spy: I emptied my Curious Bag filled with our Breathing Buddies (small stuffed animals and toys) into the middle of our circle and started, "I-Spy with my little eye...something green that jumps!" Herbert, the stuffed frog, of course! We practiced our Frog Jumps. Each child got a chance to "spy" something from the circle and we all did the pose that went along with the item.
What's Missing?: Now that they've gotten their chance to really see all of the items in the circle, I spaced them out for a couple rounds of What's Missing?. In this game, the children all come into Child's Pose. Closing their eyes they are instructed to deeply inhale and exhale while I remove one item from the circle. When I've taken the item away, I ask "What's Missing?" and the children must guess. This game usually becomes pretty high energy when they excitedly being raising their hands "I know!! I know!!!!" Having them go into Child's Pose and take a moment to breathe, gives them a chance to regroup, rest the eyes, and refocus before coming up to quickly scan the group of items to see what's missing. And sometimes I take nothing out to see if they are really paying attention - builds character.
Breathing Buddies: I reintroduced the Breathing Buddies, as we have quite a few new students this session. Each child picked on of the small stuffed animals to be their Breathing Buddies. Our Breathing Buddies are there to support us while we practice our deep breathing. Lying on our backs, our Breathing Buddies sit on our bellies and get ready for a ride. As we inhale we fill our bellies with air raising our Buddies up to the sky. As we exhale, we pull our bellies in watching our Buddies lower down. Inhaling and exhaling we watch our Breathing Buddy rise and fall. Having a focus on the breath becomes very relaxing and having a Breathing Buddy with us keeps us company. This is a great exercise that is good to do right before bed or if you child has trouble sleeping at night - instead of waking up mom or dad, having a Breathing Buddy can be just the comfort they need.
After our Savasana with the Breathing Buddies, we came up to sit for a short storybook that is probably familiar with every child - Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle. To go along with our story, I passed out the below drawing sheet "What do you see?". I played off Eric Carle's story writing, "Yogi, yogi, what do you see? I see my breathing buddy sitting with me. Inhale. Exhale. Breathing deeply. Sitting together we are as calm as can be." The kids were asked to look closely at their Breathing Buddies. Looking at the colors first, they picked what they needed from the crayon box. Next they looked at the shape of their buddy and drew that. Finally they added details and color. A still life art project if you will, but an exercise in mindfulness, none the less.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I don't teach children, they teach me.

My Daily Om email spoke volumes to me today...I've often thought about how much I learn from the children that step into my classroom. Each week I am able to walk away from the class filled with gratitude for the opportunity to practice yoga with some of the most amazing children I have ever met. They are great reminders of where we came from, how we've grown, and ultimately how life ought to be. In honor of my children and in honor of myself, I strive to keep my child-like heart alive in every aspect of my life.
Learning to Follow -
Little Gurus
"As grown-ups, we often approach children with ideas about what we can teach them about this life to which they have so recently arrived. It’s true that we have important information to convey, but children are here to teach us just as much as we are here to teach them. They are so new to the world and far less burdened with preconceived notions about the people, situations, and objects they encounter. They do not avoid people on the basis of appearance, nor do they regard shoes as having only one function. They can be fascinated for half an hour with a pot and a lid, and they are utterly unself-conscious in their emotional expressions. They live their lives fully immersed in the present moment, seeing everything with the open-mindedness born of unknowing. This enables them to inhabit a state of spontaneity, curiosity, and pure excitement about the world that we, as adults, have a hard time accessing. Yet almost every spiritual path calls us to rediscover this way of seeing! In this sense, children are truly our gurus.
When we approach children with the awareness that they are our teachers, we automatically become more present ourselves. We have to be more present when we follow, looking and listening, responding to their lead. We don’t lapse so easily into the role of the director of activities, surrendering instead to having no agenda at all. As we allow our children to determine the flow of play, they pull us deeper into the mystery of the present moment. In this magical place, we become innocent again, not knowing what will happen next and remembering how to let go and flow.
Since we must also embody the role of loving guide to our children, they teach us how to transition gracefully from following to leading and back again. In doing so, we learn to dance with our children in the present moment, shifting and adjusting as we direct the flow from pretending to be kittens wearing shoes on our heads to making sure everyone is fed and bathed."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heal the World

When I first saw this product, Michael Jackson's "Heal the World" song went through my head (and now I can't stop singing it). The world could use a little healing..."for you and for me and the entire human race." The Serena and Lily Foundation is an organization that funds youth iniatives around the world. Just in time for Earth Day, they've come up with a "World Repair Kit" to inspire children and families to help repair the world. Serena and Lily, with some help from Chronicle Books, market this kit as a journey, since let's face it, that's what life is! Inside the box, you'll find a guide book, a passport, and stamps to help track the journey. There are facts on how to help protect the environment and endangered species. There is info for hands on ways to help the needy, ideas for volunteering, creating fundraisers, and a resource guide filled with non-profit organizations. This is not only a great way to raise awareness about the world and our impact on it, but it's also a great way to bring your yoga off the mat!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Read a Recycled Book

There are some great new releases in the book world out there for Earth Day this year! This past weekend with the Alluem Little Kids, we read a book from one of my new favorite collections - the Green Start Series from Innovative Kids. Their mission statement says it best: "The green start™ series is designed to help give kids an awareness of the natural world and an understanding of how we are interconnected with everything around us. By giving kids a green start, it will be that much easier for them to incorporate environmentally friendly practices into their everyday lives as they grow. This earth-friendly series is made from 98% post-consumer recycled materials and is printed with eco-friendly ink. Each hardcover book's simple, non-fiction content inspires children to love and respect the natural world, and the parent spread at the back of each book shows how easy it is to practice (and teach!) earth friendly habits right at home." Little Helpers is my favorite one from the series that I shared with the kids this weekend. It shares the little things that kids can do to help the Earth. They may be little, but they can make a big difference! My other favorite new read for Earth Day is Todd Parr's latest book - The Earth Book! Like "Little Helpers", this book also touches on ways kids can help the earth, the animals, each other, and our future. Turning off the water when we brush our teeth, so the fish will have plenty of water to swim in. Using both sides of the paper to save trees, so that the owls will have a place to live. Turning off the lights when we leave the room so that the snowmen stay cool. We learn a simple, but important overall lesson here - "If we love the earth, it will love us back". (And if you've never been to Todd's site - I recommend you visit for non-stop fun!)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Earth Day is April 22nd!

The first class of the new session was great! With Earth Day right around the corner, the class focus was all about it! Thanks to a most wonderful collection of ideas from Little Flower Yoga and Shanti Generation, the Alluem Kids were showing nothing but gratitude and love for our Earth this weekend!
Our meditation focus today was nature...the kids were asked to make an "Earth Connection". What part of nature do you most connect with? Is it the beach, the forest, by the lake, riverside, or even just your local park? The kids were to envision themselves in this space during their meditation. They were to think about what it felt like to be there - what it looked like, what it smelt like, what sounds they heard. We talked about about those places in nature that they connected with and came up with yoga poses to represent them - Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, Lotus Pose, and more! When we had enough examples - it was time to make our Earthscapes! The kids put it together a nature scene and came up with a great picture - mountain range with a river running through it with a bridge going over it, surrounding trees, flowers, rocks, turtles and chipmunks! So cute!
Little Flower Yoga reminds us to focus on a yogic principle of Saucha (cleanliness). We questioned how this Earthscape would look covered with garbage. Keeping our environment clean is important for the earth, the animals, and our neighbors. Keeping the environment clean shows respect, loyalty, and love. Keeping the environment clean keeps the peace. To make this principle fun - we played a mock clean up game - Toe-Ga! Toe-Ga is a game that works on balance and fine motor skills, but for today we imagined this method of "cleaning up" would help us practice Saucha. The class is split into 2 groups and the middle of the room is filled with large colorful pom-poms. The goal is to get as many pom-poms onto your mat in 15 second intervals using only your toes. When those are cleared, the middle of the room is filled with medium sized pom-poms. Finally, when those are cleared, the middle of the room is filled with tiny pom-poms. The smaller the pom-poms the harder it gets. More focus is needed to achieve balance. Toe-ga is always a good time and celebrating Earth Day can be a blast! Remember to give back to the Earth this week!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Session

The Spring Session starts tomorrow, Sunday, April 18th.
It's not too late to sign up!
Alluem Little Kids (4-7yrs) - 10am-11am
Alluem Kids (8-12yrs) 11:15am-12:15pm
Visit: and click on the workshops tab.
The session will run for 8 weeks and will be pack full of special events (including Mother's Day and Memorial Day)!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hope is an Open Heart

What is hope? What does it mean to have hope? What does it mean to be hopeful? What do you hope for? These were some of the questions that were discussed with the Alluem Kids this weekend. Children are full of hope - hope for the future and hope for the little things in life. I presented the kids with a Hope Box that would be left in the Meditation Room at the studio. The children are welcome to write down their hopes, dreams, wishes, or worries on a small piece of paper and drop it in the box. Giving the kids a place to put down what overflows their hearts, fill their heads, or just needs a place to go is a great outlet to let go of whatever they are holding onto.
Before our 3 and a half minute meditation (the kids wanted to do 4 minutes, but let's take it slow here), we read Lauren Thompson's "Hope is an Open Heart". Thompson wrote this book to help her then 4 yr old son deal with the aftermath of 9-11. In this book, we are presented with images of children who have overcome a great deal in their lives along with simple messages of what hope is. Hope means something different to everyone, but to the children in this book from Haiti, Sri Lanka, New Orleans, and other places affected by disaster, hope is an open heart. Keeping an open heart through whatever life may bring, good or bad, is a much healthier option to shutting down or acting out when challenges presented. Keeping an open heart means being open to what life has to bring, staying in the present moment.
We practiced heart opening asanas like Cobra Pose, Superman, and Flipped our Dogs. Keeping the chest open and the shoulders back increases lung capacity, allows us to breathe deeper. Breathing deeper reduces anxiety and slows the heart and mind - allowing us to think clearly in times of need, and be in a more restful state of mind and body. When we have embraced that state, we are helping ourselves and can in turn may help others.
Scholastic, the publishers of "Hope is an Open Heart", have come up with a way to help children in need through the sales of this book. Scholastic My Time is a program that was set up to help children affected by disaster or crisis. They've developed a kit that includes a copy of this book, as well as a "make your own book" and colored pencils so that children in need can express what they are experiencing through drawing and writing. Giving children an outlet, like art, is something I am a strong supporter of. Thanks to the Volunteers of America, these kits have been distributed to over 25,000 children. In addition, Scholastic will donate $1 from each sale of this book to the Volunteers of America. Visit the site to learn more about this program as well as learning some tips on how to help and comfort a child in need:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Being Mindful

Tell a 4 and 5 year old to stay still and be quiet, and let me know how that goes. Ask them to be mindful - to listen, to look, to feel - and you may be surprised. I introduced mindfulness to the Alluem Little Kids this weekend. I didn't have to define mindfulness to them, we just kind of dove in. We were finally able to go outside on the patio to enjoy the beautiful weather...a perfect place to take in our surroundings, to take in all of nature has to offer. Labeling the thoughts and feelings with simple words can be a starting point for younger children in the practice of mindfulness. When I brought the kids outside, we took in all of nature. Being outside in nature almost forces us to be it hot/cold? Where are we stepping/sitting? What did we see? Blue sky, green grass, flower buds, the river flowing. Then we closed our eyes to block out the visual. What did we hear? Water rushing, birds chirping, cars going by. What did we feel? Wind blowing, sun shining...and then one child said, "My heart." and the other one put his hand on his chest. Beautiful. You can't get more of a mind body connection then that.
A perfect picture book to go with this lesson on mindfulness is Alki's Quiet in the Garden. A young boy ventures into the garden to sit quietly. He knows if he is very still he'll hear and see things that others may have missed. He is filled with wonder as he listens to the animals and the bugs having conversations. The rabbit, the mouse, the snail, and the frog. The fish, the spider, the turtle, and the lizard. All of which make great yoga poses!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April is Poetry Month

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Magnetic Poetry! The Magnetic Poetry Yoga Kit is perfect for everyone who loves a good Sun Salutation! Create poetry right on your refrigerator! "Whether you want to write a sonnet to the shoulder stand or just a few lines about your ujjayi pranayama, you'll find the words in this kit. Open up a box and explore the spiritual, enlightening practice of yoga."
I couldn't resist!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


The studio will be closed tomorrow, Sunday, April 4th. Enjoy this holiday weekend and time with your family!
Alluem Kids classes will resume next Sunday, April 11th. This class will be a Make-up class. If your child has missed any classes during the 8 week session, please bring them this week! If they've made it to all of the classes, they may attend at a drop-in fee of $15. Have a friend who wants to try out the class? Now is the time! New student drop-ins are welcome! Enjoy the wonderful weather in the meantime! Spring is finally here!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Yoga for Autism

I'm wearing blue in honor of World Autism Day today. This day is dedicated to create a better understanding of autism. Events are going throughout the nation to help raise awareness and funds to research the causes, treatments, and prevention for this disease that effects one in every 110 kids. Yoga is said to help autistic children improve balance, sociability, communication in problem solving skills.
I have to say, the first time I worked with autistic children and yoga was very challenging. The children were a mix of levels on the autistic spectrum - some more aware and more verbal then others. So obviously, some were more involved then others. I had worked with this same group the year before engaging them in a How to Draw lesson, so I knew the extent of their abilities. Throughout the drawing lesson, one child in particular had stared off and preoccupied himself with the repetitive movements that are common among those with autism. When the lesson was through, he picked up his pencil and drew the entire picture I had taught them, with added background details. I was amazed. So going into the class to teach them yoga, I knew that even if they may not be participating, they are most likely absorbing what is happening. Perhaps they take those skills home with them and practice them in their own time in their own way. However they get there is beautiful.
I was only able to spend one afternoon with these children, but working with an autistic child over time through yoga can have huge benefits. For instance, the inhalation and exhalation of breath work alone can become the repetition that takes the place of the well known "flapping" or rocking as the additional oxygen calms the nervous system. Child's Pose can become a safe way for the child to shut the world out lowering the overload of visual stimulation and avoid meltdowns by bringing internal focus. Seated Forward Bends can provide self control while helping fulfill that need for deep pressure. Engaging the children in rhymes with repetition and animal sounds with the asanas (mooing in Cow Pose, barking in Downdog, etc.) is a way to get on their level. Stories and bright pictures also stimulate attention. I used the book, "My Daddy is a Pretzel" and "Whoosh Around the Mulberry Bush" incorporating the poses through Storytime Yoga.
There are so many ways and techniques to integrate yoga into an autistic child's life. Check out some of the great resources on this subject and broaden your awareness.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Alluem Kids Tees!

The Alluem Kids Tees are in!!!
Stop by the studio to pick up your kid's new favorite tee shirt! The American Apparel 100% Fine Cotton tee shirt sports the Alluem Kids logo in the center of the chest. Shirts come in size 8, 10, 12, and adult small. $20.