Friday, February 26, 2010

The Compassionate Classroom

"Respect. Love. Compassion. What we need for ourselves we should give to our children." - Jennifer Cohen, Little Flower Yoga
Little Flower Yoga just posted an upcoming workshop for teachers of all subjects (including yoga), parents, or anyone else who work with children.
The Compassionate Classroom - March 16th 6:30pm-9:30pm
I've attended this workshop when I first started teaching and was able to walk away feeling well prepped for whatever classroom management issues may come my way. The workshop will be run by Jennifer Cohen of Little Flower Yoga and held at the most adorable children's yoga studio Karma Kids at 104 W 14th St. in NYC.
Here is a description of the workshop:
"Are you ever frustrated by the behavior of your students? Ever frustrated by your own reaction to their behavior? Feel like you don't want to yell but don't know what else to do? Wish you could spend more time on content and less on classroom management?
The Compassionate Classroom workshop will give you tools and techniques to keep your students engaged through cooperation rather than control. You will learn to teach classes in a way that shows compassion and respect for all children, and use powerful communication strategies to create an environment of mutual trust.
Our goal is to provide all children with a sense of internal discipline, and offer teachers alternatives to punishment methods that serve to re-orient students to activities rather than ostracize them. Avoid unnecessary conflict and power struggles with your students and you will be amazed at how much time you can dedicate to learning!"
I highly recommend it!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

((Ommm)) Sesame Street

I LOVE how the world is embracing yoga! And even more so, I LOVE how Sesame Street is exposing the smallest of the bunch to yoga! Jim Henson would be so proud to know that his Muppets are becoming little Yoginis! First Kermit rocked Downward Facing Dog (see the full Sun Salute here)...
Now Bert is rocking Eka Pada Kapotasana aka Pigeon, his favorite animal of course. Thanks to Yoga and my friends at Yoga in my, Bert's latest video is sweeping the Yoga net! Doing the (coo, coo) Piegon!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kirtan for Kids

If you haven't experienced a Kirtan yet, I recommend it's something you get out and do! The music is unique, the voices are angelic, and the energy is beyond amazing! Krishna Das, Wah!, Bhagavan Das....all amazing chanters in the world of Kirtan! Love them! But what about for the little yoginis who love music?? Sing Yoga of course!!!
This weekend I attended the most adorable Kirtan for Kids at Shakti Yoga Center in Staten Island. Sing Yoga is an all ages folk-chant sing-a-long project by Nancy Corrigan and Jason Tribiano designated to raise money for Sonoma Ashram to help abandoned children at Bal Ashram, Varanasi, India. Nancy's voice was so warm and welcoming, you could just see the comfort in the faces of the children as they cuddled with their parents or danced around and sang!
Alluem Yoga will definitely be inviting Sing Yoga to the studio very soon!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yoga Jenga

Balance. The ultimate balance family game is without a doubt, Jenga. Fifty-four wooden blocks stacked in 18 levels. The object is to pull a block out of the stack without it falling and then place that block on top of the stack making it higher and higher. It is a game of focus, mental skill, and a steady hand. I wanted to work on balance with the kids this week. By simply writing balance poses on the wooden blocks, I turned my Jenga game into Yoga Jenga! Tree, Eagle, Crow, Warrior 3. As each child picked a block from the stack, they then had to teach it to the class for all to try. Great fun!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love from MC Yogi

I just came across a rockin' Valentine's Day Special from MC Yogi! "The Giving Song (Give Love)" was written in the spirit of Giving4Living at is working hard to help bring the yoga community together around the world. Their goal is to bring together people to share the gift of giving - giving time, giving thought and giving money to help those in need. MC Yogi is helping to launch this program by giving love.
You can download this song FREE for a limited time at the website. This one is DEFINITELY getting added to the Alluem Kid's Play list!!!

MC Yogi - Give Love (Giving4Living Mix) from MC Yogi on Vimeo.

What can say...I'm a huge fan!!!

Me and MC Yogi at the 2009 Yoga Journal Conference.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Keep Om in your Heart!
Today's classes were wonderful and filled with love as today is Valentine's Day! We naturally focused on our hearts throughout the whole class. Keeping our shoulders back, our spines long, and our hearts open so we could receive and send out love. Some great heart opener poses are:
-Cow Pose: On hands and knees, inhale and arch the back dropping the belly towards the floor and looking up towards the sky.
-Crab Pose: Reversed Table Top, hips lifted high, head can be dropped back. Feel free to take a Crab Walk as we did today around the room.
-Supported Bridge: Using a block on its side, lie back and lift hips bringing the block to your sacrum. Relax your arms and shoulders. For more of a challenge raise the block on to the taller side.
-Wheel: Lying back, pushing hands and feet into the ground, come up into a backbend.
-Camel Pose: Kneeling high, place both hands on your lower back to support it as you arch back looking up at the sky. Going further reach back and take hold of your heels, arching back further to see behind you.
I also thought this day would be a good opportunity to focus on our heart rates. We took our pulse after resting for a bit. As each child picked a sound for their heart beat (thump-thump, beep-beep, etc.), the room was filled with sounds to represent their heart beats. Slow to start, we talked about how we could speed it up. Movement of course! After a series of Frog Jumps, we took our pulse again and noticed how it sped up by making the same sounds. Our rate varies as our need for oxygen varies. When we were resting, our breathing was slow, so our heart beat was slower. As we did our Frog Jumps, we needed to take in more oxygen, so our heart beat got faster. Our heart is a muscle that works hard to send blood throughout our bodies. It works like a pump which is why we can feel it beat as it's working. And to keep it working you need to take care of your heart! Exercise, eat healthy, don't smoke, and remember your heart needs love, too, for all the hard work it does!
Happy Valentine's Day! If you stop by the studio tomorrow, there may be some extra homemade Om Cookies left!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vancouver 2010

I'm super excited about the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver this year! Thanks to my friends at the Kid's Yoga Resource, I was inspired to dedicate last weekend's Alluem Kid's class to this major international multi-sporting event. The majority of my students play competitive sports from soccer and lacrosse to swimming and gymnastics. I'm a strong believer that yoga is one of the best compliments to sports. I personally played soccer until I was 26 years old. Upon finding yoga when I was 22 years old, I noticed a change in my game. Mentally, I became a more conscious player - aware of my surroundings, aware of what I was doing in the moment which would ultimately take me into he next move. My breathing allowed me to slow down my mind so I could think and anticipate the game, rather then reacting instinctively. Physically, my muscles responded better to the short steps and sprinting that soccer requires. The stretching of the muscles that yoga incorporates allows for deeper movement. I talked with the kids about this...when you play an intense sport, your muscle contract and tighten. The more you stretch and breathe into the muscles the more flexibility you will experience lowering your chance of injury and increasing your strength and agility. Practicing yoga regularly can help you maintain that flexibility. Many athletes participate in yoga even at the Olympic level - including freestyle skier Emily Cook, gymnast Stephen McCain, swimmer Jenny Thompson, and most of the Women's US Soccer Team to name a few. We talked about how these athletes could use yoga to benefit their sport of choice. First off breathing...we use breathing to calm our minds, lower anxiety, release muscle tension. The kids and I sat, eyes closed, and focused on our breath. Imagining we were athletes preparing for the Olympics, we saw ourselves proudly wearing the colors of our country on our uniforms for the sport of our choice. We imagined the intensity of the moment and thought about how would really need to go inside to focus before the big event.
We moved into stretching and then the events:
Ski Jump: Starting in Chair Pose, holding for 3,2,1 - launch! Up on your toes, arms back, chest open, hold 3,2,1 - landing back in Chair.
Snowboarding: Warrior 2 right side, hold, step into your front right foot and lower into a squat. Move both hands to the right side, twist to see over your right shoulder. Spin and step up into Warrior 2 with the left leg, hold, step into the left foot, lower into squat. Move hands to left side, twist, and spin. Repeat. Once you get the hang of it, you can really speed it up! Warrior 2, squat, twist, spin, Warrior 2, squat, twist, spin, repeat!
Speed Skating: Taking long lunges, alternating legs, arms behind your back, move in a circle around the room. Eventually leaning the torso forward and increasing the speed.
Figure Skating: Coming into Tree Pose, taking knee up in front of you and moving into Eagle, taking your ankle or foot behind you for Dancer's Pose. Find your balance and feel free to twirl!
Pair Skating: Partners must hold on at all times. Starting off seated back to back link arms and try to stand up. Move into partner Chair facing each other. Step back into Partner Warrior 1, open up into Warrior 2, Step forward to Warrior 3. (This can go on and on adding poses.)
Skeleton: Lying on your stomach, arms are glued to your sides. Inhale lift your head and your feet off the ground using the muscles in your back. Exhale, rest. Repeat.
Louge: Lying on your back, arms glued to your sides. Inhale lift your head and your feet a couple inches off the floor using the muscles in your stomach. Exhale, rest. Repeat.
Team Bob Sled: Everyone lines up and sits down in a straddle. Putting your arms straight out so that your hands rest on the shoulders of the person in front of you. Inhale sit up tall. Using your core strength, lean to the right. Come back to the center. Lean to the left. Inhale sit up taller lean back without falling on the person behind you. Back up and repeat.
Although the Olympics are highly competitive, the games are a chance for people from around the world to come together to celebrate friendship, unity, and peace through sports. The Olympic flag alone represents this unity. The five circles you see on the flag represent the 5 major land masses in the world. The five different colors used (including the white background) have at least one color of every nations flag in them. The rings are interlocked to show friendship among the nations. So, just like yoga, the Olympics are about coming together in peace. The opening ceremony is tonight! Be sure to tune in!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bringing Mindfulness to Children

The Omega Institute in Rhineback, New York has to put together an amazing faculty of leaders in child development for this summer's upcoming Mindfulness and Education Conference - Grades K-12. This conference is open to teachers, administrators, childcare providers, family therapists, and parents who want to bring inner calm, awareness, balance, and a sense of well being to the children in their lives.
"The new field of teaching mindfulness in our nation’s schools is a profoundly beneficial development for the education of children from grades K through 12. Research shows that mindfulness decreases stress, attention deficit issues, depression, anxiety, and hostility in children, while benefiting their health, well-being, social relations, and academic performance. Children can easily learn these techniques, and when learned young, they become lifelong tools."
I'm proud to share that one of the presenters at the weekend conference will be Little Flower Yoga for Children founder and director, Jennifer Cohen. She has experience teaching students from pre-school to high school and working with children with physical handicaps, and developmental and learning disorders. Through the Little Flower Teacher Training, she has taught me everything I know in the field of children's yoga and for that I am forever grateful!
The Omega Conference on August 6-8 is going to be amazing!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gum Ganapatayie Namaha

A mantra for new beginnings- Gum Ganapatatyie Namaha. The new session has taken off with a blast! With 14 brand new Alluem Kids this weekend, the studio was packed with new life and shining faces filled with anticipation for what yoga would bring to them. For many of the new students, it was their first yoga class in a studio setting. Most of them have been exposed to yoga whether their parents practice, they were introduced to it in school, or they've rocked a few poses on the Wii Fit. The kids were excited to be in an actual yoga studio in a class just for them. They are often proud of the fact that they have their own mats and their own space to stretch, breathe, relax, renew, and have fun!
So why yoga for kids?
The world continues to change and children are exposed to and have to deal with more issues then children have had to deal with in the past. To have peace with all that goes on around them and remained focused takes a lot of work. Through yoga, one can learn to get in better awareness of their bodies and their minds despite what is going on around them through asanas (movement), breath, and meditation. A children's class includes all of this, but is brought to them in a less serious, playful mode. We play games, we laugh, we have fun. Is that yoga? Yes. You will often hear laughter coming from the classroom. You will often hear the kids cheering on each other during a Yoga Game. You will often hear random statements or conversation taking place during the class, as kids freely express what is on their minds. All of this is okay. Kids will be kids and that is exactly how they should act. And there is no safer place to do so then in a yoga class where they will be loved and accepted for who they are.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Today's Daily Om

Allowing Our Children To Be
Truly loving our children requires us to set them free and practice nonattachment.
Trust and allow.
"Parenting asks us to rise to some of the most difficult challenges this world has to offer, and one of its greatest paradoxes arises around the issue of attachment. On the one hand, successful parenting requires that we love our children, and most of us love in a very attached way. On the other hand, it also requires that we let go of our children at the appropriate times, which means we must practice some level of nonattachment. Many parents find this difficult because we love our children fiercely, more than we will ever love anyone, and this can cause us to overstep our bounds with them as their independence grows. Yet truly loving them requires that we set them free. Attachment to outcome is perhaps the greatest obstacle on the parenting path, and the one that teaches us the most about the importance of practicing nonattachment. We commonly perceive our children to be extensions of ourselves, imagining that we know what’s best for them, but our children are people in their own right with their own paths to follow in this world. They may be called to move in directions we fear, don’t respect, or don’t understand, yet we must let them go.
This letting go happens gradually throughout our lives with our children until we finally honor them as fully grown adults who no longer require our guidance. At this point, it is important that we treat them as peers who may or may not seek our input into their lives. This allows them, and us, to fully realize the greatest gift parents can offer their offspring —independence. Letting go in any area of life requires a deep trust in the universe, in the overall meaning and purpose of existence. Remembering that there is more to us and our children than meets the eye can help us practice nonattachment, even when we feel overwhelmed by concern and the desire to interfere. We are all souls making our way in the world and making our way, ultimately, back to the same source. This can be our mantra as we let our children go in peace and confidence."

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Love Monkey!

The greatest lesson we can teach our children is for them to be themselves. Every child is unique, but almost every child strives to fit in to be like everyone else. If we teach our children early on that being themselves is the best way to be, even if that means being a little different at times, they will grow up with the confidence they need to shine.
I found a great book called "I Love Monkey" by Suzanne Kaufman from Compendium Inc. (An awesome company whose motto is "Live Inspired"!) Monkey starts off by wanting to be a bunny, but finds it to be too floppy. Then he wants to be a squirrel, but it was too nutty. He also tried to be sushi, but it was too tasty. We incorporated a yoga pose for each page, including Bunny Hops, Elephant Walk, Owl Twist, and Sushi Roll (which requires the child to lie on their mat and roll themselves up in it. I may be sorry I taught them that. ;-). Monkey learns in the end that it's best to just be himself because there is nobody in the world that does a better job at that then him!
After the story, we worked on drawing ourselves as we were in that moment...another thing we strive for in yoga - living in the moment. We talked about how it is important to be who we are as we are no matter what. We're the best ones at being ourselves - just like monkey! And one student drew herself as a monkey. :)