Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Sun

School's out! Summer is here!! The Alluem Kids welcomed the summer sun with open arms and open hearts today! There was no better way to start a class dedicated to the sun then with the Ha Kriya. In saknskrit, Ha means "sun" and "Kriya" means action. The sun gives us energy. The Ha Kriya stimulates our inner sun and gives us energy. Standing with feet a little more then hip width apart, knees slightly bent, arms slightly bent at the elbows by your waist - inhale and imagine reaching the right hand up for a piece of the sun. When you get it, grab it and pull it in quick! Imagine the sun that you pulled in is so strong and powerful that it makes you exhale the sound "Ha!"! Repeat on the left side alternating arms going faster and faster! Allow the sun to energize you! (I usually let the kids "Ha!" over and over until they fall over with smiles on their faces!)
For children, transitioning into the summer months can be like eating a pound of sugar - it's really good, gets you hyper, and crash. It's a sensitive of moving from structure and repetition to what can be very lazy days. One way to help your child ease into the summer is to have them set intentions. The Alluem Kids and I talked about intentions today in class. It's very common to walk into a yoga class and hear the instructor ask the students to set an intention for your practice. The intention can be for a loved one or for yourself. It could be for strength, for gratitude, for happiness, or for health. It could be for a goal you have set or a dream you want to reach. The possibilities for intentions are endless.
I had the children set some Summer Intentions. From finding some time to relax to spending quality time with the family. From reading 20 books to working on their math skills. From mastering their headstands to working on their meditation practice. After class I came across a great post from Donna Freeman at She has listed 54 Fun Family for Summer Yoga Style! My favorite may just be #44!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

For the Love of the Game: Yoga and Soccer

World Cup frenzy has taken over! When you think soccer, you think about the intensity of the players on the field with one thing in mind – getting to the goal no matter who is in the way. When you think soccer you think about the cheering fans whooping and hollering…and if it’s this year’s World Cup – oh, those horns! One rarely thinks about peace, calm, and relaxation when they think about soccer – so what would yoga have to do with this sport that so many are focusing on this summer??

Plenty! Since this 1,000 year old practice that we call Yoga actually means to yolk or unite joining mind, body, spirit, there is nothing more an athletic team should be doing then coming together as one unit. And each player comes to the field with their own physical skill, focus, intensity, and love of the game. Step into any yoga classroom and this is exactly what you’ll find. Yogis (or those who practice yoga), develop the physical by practicing asanas (poses), develop mental concentration by practicing meditation and pranayama (breathing), and all come to their mats for the love of the practice and being in the moment. In my opinion, yoga is one of the best compliments to soccer, or any sport for that matter! Having a plethora of soccer players amongst the Alluem Kid’s classes, I knew bringing in a soccer twist to our yoga studio would be a blast for all involved!

Start with the breath. Steadying the breath before a game can be very beneficial for your endurance throughout your time on the field. Nerves can produce shallow breathing. Shallow breathing reduces the amount of oxygen that can travel to your brain causing anxiety, dizziness, and low energy. That will tire you out fast! Practice taking full, deep inhalations and exhalations before a game or practice, filling the belly first with air and then the lungs. Want to go further with you breathing? Practice alternate notstril breathing. Bring your hands together and extend the middle fingers on each side of your nostrils. Use the finger to close the left nostril and inhale to the count of 4 through the right. Close both nostrils and hold for 4 breaths. Release the left nostril and exhale to the count of 4. Repeat. Inhale right. Hold. Exhale left. This alternate nostril balances the hemispheres of the brain which will help with concentration and balance. Hey, you never know- maybe your left shot will be as good as your right!

Focus on flexibility! Flexibility increase endurance, because the more flexible you are the less likely you are to cramp up during play. Remember to breathe into each stretch. Oxygen will help the muscles to relax, allowing you to stretch deeper. Below are only a couple of poses that will benefit soccer players – lengthening the quads and groins for taking shots on goal, opening the shoulders for throw-ins, strengthening the ankles for stop and go action. Need a prop – skip the blocks and straps and use the soccer ball for a new dynamic!

-Bound Angle Pose: Place the ball between the soles of your feet and let your legs fall to the side. Lean your elbows and gently press your legs towards the floor. Fold foward. After a couple of breaths, remove the ball placing soles of the feet together and see if your legs can move even further to the ground. With both hands on the ball, stretch forward elongating the sides of the body. Roll the ball left and right to stretch the sides while in Bound Angle.

-Extreme Staff Pose: With legs extended straight out in front of you, raise your heels and place the ball under your feet. Being careful not to hyper extend, take a forward bend, reaching for your toes, leading with your heart.

-Supported Bridge Pose: Laying back with knees bent, feet flat, and arms along the sides, raise your hips to the sky bringing your chest towards your chin. Slide the ball underneath the base of your spine. Allow yourself to be supported on the ball while getting a gentle backbend.

-Plow Pose/Candlestick: Laying back place the ball between your feet. Raise your feet over your head towards the floor while holding on to the ball between your feet. Allow your hands to support your back as your feet and ball touches the ground over your head coming into Plow Pose. Bring your feet back up and straighten your legs towards the sky moving into Candlestick. Squeeze the ball between your feet or ankles or try to balance the ball on top of your feet!

-Bow Pose: Laying on your stomach, bend your knees and take hold of your ankles. Open up your shoulders and simultaneously lift your chest and your thighs off the ground coming to balance on your stomach stretching the entire front body including the quads. Just for fun place the ball in the crook of your back and see if you can balance it there!

-Wide-Legged Foward Bend: With feet much wider then hip width apart to give the legs and ankles a challenge, place two hands on the ball in front of you on the ground. Lengthen your back and then gently bring your head towards the ball. Move your hands to the floor and rest your forehead on the ball, or go deeper and roll the ball through your legs behind you bringing your head to the floor.

-Tree Pose: Variation 1 – Standing on one leg, place the ball against your inner thigh and bring your foot up as you would in a traditional Tree. Press your foot against the ball into your leg opening up the knee to the side. Raise your arms to the sky. Varitation 2 – Standing on one leg in a traditional Tree Pose or in Standing Half Lotus, raise the ball over head stretching side to side to challenge your balance.

“Bounce-a-Pose” is a game of communication and memory. Write a variety of poses on each of the octagons on a soccer ball. Simply two hand bounce the ball from one player to the next, saying their name first (communication is important on the field!). Be sure each player is ready to receive in a goalie stance - feet a little more then hip width apart, knees slightly bent, hands up, fingers spread. Goalies are always ready! As a player receives the pass with both hands, take note of which octagon the right thumb lands in. The player now must demo whatever pose is in that space. Be creative, because the ball must not be put down- incorporate the ball into the pose!

“Over Under - Side to Side” is a game to increase flexibility down the back body. Standing in a line for the 1st round the first person passes the soccer ball over head, arching back to the next person. The next person bends forward passing the ball between their legs to the person behind them and so on. The last person sprints to front to start over. For the 2nd round simply twist side to side - working and stretching side body passing the ball from one person to the next.

“Boat Pose Ball Pass”
is a game of balance, strength, and focus. Come into a seated circle with plenty of room between each kid. Have everyone turn 90 degrees to their right. Practice Boat Pose to refresh – balancing on the seat, extending arms forward, heart open, and legs extending at a 45 degree angle. Start with everyone reclined back and the ball between the feet of the first person. Come up into to Boat Pose and pass the ball from feet to hands. Recline back down with the ball in hand passing to the next persons feet. Try to keep arms and legs straight and use your core to lift! Move slow and with control! See how many times the ball can be passed around the room without dropping it!

Writing Activity:

"Give and Go" To keep a balanced field of play during a soccer game, it is ideal for 2 players to support the player with the ball at all times. This is best done in a triangular fashion - 3 players, 3 points - giving the player with the ball passing options to aid in obtaining a goal. When the player sees a passing opportunity with one of those 2 players, it is called a "Give and Go". The player passes or gives, and then moves to become a support for the new player with the ball. Support is what teamwork is all about.

Think about 2 teammates or people in your life who have supported you in the past. Write down their names and think of a way you could possibly support them. Even the littlest acts of kindness make a great impact.

Relaxation: Recling back in preparation for savasana, close your eyes and start to relax. Check in with your body. It is key for athletes to be aware of what is going on in their bodies - do you feel energized or tired? Do a body scan starting with your head, moving down arms, torso, legs, feet. Is there any pain or soreness anywhere? Pay attention to those spots. Breathe into them and relax. Notice your heart rate. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Take a couple long deep breaths and notice how slowing down the breath automatically slows down the heart rate. As you drift off into savasana, imagine yourself in the greatest game of your life. Clear blue sky above you, soft green grass below you. Teammates on the field by your side. Family and friends on the side line cheering you on. You, standing strong, heart open, head held high, full of joy. All for the love of the game.

Yoga and Soccer Workshop coming soon to Alluem Yoga!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

Happy First Day of Summer!!!! This morning when I woke up, I put my yoga pants and tank on underneath my work clothes. My plan: take the 5:57am bus and get to Times Square by 7am for class on the street with Douglas Stewart (ISHTA Yoga) and a couple hundred other yogis! What a great experience! After every vinyasa as we brought our hands to hearts center he asked, "Where are you? What is this?" And at first I giggled, because I was thinking, "Dude, we're in Times Square! Hellooo!? There's no getting around that!" I was distracted by the fact that there are way too many digital billboards that everytime I focused on one for balance, it would change to a new picture. I was distracted by the numerous (I think I counted 7) professional photographers snapping hundreds of pictures. I was distracted by the largest audience I've ever seen at a yoga class - tons of faces surrounding the perimeter - tourists looking on, people headed to work. I was distracted by the fact that I was literally on my mat in the gutter of Broadway between a pot hole and a puddle. I was definitely getting challenge on focusing! After maybe the 4th time he asked us, "Where are you? What is this?" I was able to go deeper and listen to what he was really asking.

Where are you?

Am I lost in the noise and the rush of the world around me? Am I able to shut out the things that don't matter - the things that really serve no purpose to my well being right now? Am I able to focus on the here and the now of where I actually am and what I am doing in this moment?

What is this?

THIS is what I want to be doing ALL the time. This flow of the practice is how I want to be handle the flow of life - easing up when it gets to be too much, pushing further when I know I can. This life giving practice is what I want to bring to other people, to children. THIS is what life is all about.

After I got to that point I was able to move slower, open up, and look past the buildings towards the endless blue skies. I was grateful for the distractions. It was such a great eye opener that I didn't shut my eyes in savasana this time. I simply looked up past it all and knew that everything would be okay, even amongst all that distracts.

To view the event page and more great pictures, click here: Times Square Alliance And thanks to Friendship Cottage Cheese for the swag bag!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all of the Alluem Dads! Thought I would share a couple great picture book titles in honor of the day. We'll be reading a couple of these in class in honor of our dads, grandpas, uncles, and father figures in our lives!

My Daddy is a Pretzel classic for the yogi in you! Written by the infamous Baron Baptiste for his sons. Complete with how tos for all your basic poses!

From the author of Good Night Moon, The Fathers are Coming Home, shows that special bond between father and child through various animal fathers and their animal children. Perfect for practicing yoga poses related to animals! Downward Dog, Fish, Lion, Rabbit, etc.

The Daddy Book shows how some daddies are alike and some are different, but all daddies love you! Kids love the bright illustrations created by Todd Parr! Endless fun!

Alluem Little Kids made "You & Me" Father's Day Pictures for their dads, while the Alluem Kids used the Indian Singing Bowl to send loving thoughts to their dads on this special day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kids Movie Night!

Join us for the first Kid's Movie Night at Alluem featuring:
Kung Fu Panda - In the Valley of Peace, an unlikely young hero turns his weaknesses into his greatest strengths! Believe in yourself and anything is possible!!!!

Friday, June 18th 7:30-9:30pm
$5 entry fee - 100% of the proceeds go to
Off the Mat into the World
Global Seva Challenge

Concessions will be for sale at a donation price!
You do NOT have to be a registered student to attend -
RSVP is appreciated at under the workshops tab!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sing Yoga

View Video on YouTube:
This past Sunday after a wonderful Flow Donation Based class with Clarissa Alliano, Alluem Families joined their voices with Sing Yoga for a family kirtan. With the beautifully talented lead, Nancy Corrigan, Sing Yoga of Staten Island, is an all ages folk-chant sing-a-long musical project designed to raise money for the Bal Ashram Orphanage. The Bal Ashram is a safe home for children who have no means to further their lives. They are provided with love and care, yoga, meditation, and an education. At these donation based events, Sing Yoga raises money for the abandoned children of the ashram in Varanasi, India so that the children will one day be able to thrive. Baba Harihar Ramji (Babaji), Guru of the SonoMa Ashram in Sonoma, CA, envisioned this safe place as an inspiration for many - not only the children themselves, but also the surrounding communities, as well as the yoga communities abroad. People from all over the globe have visited the ashram to support, share their talents and gifts, and simply practice seva. People such as Sing Yoga and the Alluem Families that came out to the studio this past Sunday, are also able to practice seva from their own home towns thanks to Babaji. We have been touched by his mission, his teachings, and his kind heart.
Along with the money raised this weekend, Alluem Yoga will be sending the children of the Ashram drawings and mandalas (being created in the picture below) as well as a generous donation of 55 new picture books from Barnes & Noble to help build the library of the ashram. The Alluem Kids were inspired by the bright faces of the children's pictures they were shown and learned of their culture by hearing what a day in the life of an ashram child is like - from waking up at 4am to meditate to going to school and playing games just like themselves. And while the Bal Ashram is a beautiful, safe, and nurturing environment, all realized how lucky they are to have families and home to call their own. One of the 4 yr old's main concern - "Do the children had enough food to eat?" Their hearts are huge.
Thank you, Sing Yoga, for bringing us the gift of sound, togetherness, love, and light. And thank you to all the families who came out to support. Your generous offerings are ever so appreciated. Blessings to you all!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hoop Yoga

They come out for picnics, birthday parties, and backyard summer fun. The hula hoop - one of America’s oldest fads predating the 1950s – are now sneaking their way into yoga studios!
Hoop Yoga recently made it’s way to an Alluem Kids class at Alluem Yoga in Cranford, NJ. The kids grabbed their hoops and started hooping it up! Hula Hooping alone is a great tool for connecting with your body, which is what we strive to do in yoga. Grounding your feet into the earth for stability, being mindful of your surroundings, utilizing core strength, and feeling the hoop rotate the circumference of your body – all aids in achieving body awareness. And what better way to teach a child about body awareness then through play!
Read the rest of my guest post article at!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer Session

Last class of the Spring Session is this Sunday, June 6th!
Keep your child's practice going this summer!
Sign up now for the Summer Session:
June 20th - August 15th
(no class July 4th)