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!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the mention of The Kids Yoga Resource. WHat an inspiring post! I love how you tie in the beauty of comraderie, respect and compassion in the midst of competition, and potential for emotional highs and lows - the ultimate yoga learning. I look forward to trying these along with some of the ideas we posted in classes this week and next.