Monday, July 26, 2010

Amy's Light by Robert Nutt

"It's amazing what you find inside by looking outside."
Inspired by a yard filled of fireflies during a summer night's walk...Robert Nutt has created an amazing book written to spark the light in us all, Amy's Light. Robert's daughter Amy, who is so beautifully portrayed through his photo-illustrations, has become frightened by the shadows on the wall of her bedroom. When she sees a flicker of light coming from her own yard, she is filled with hope! When Amy learns about the light, she also learns a lot about herself.
Amy's Light was the inspiration for the Alluem Kids Little Kid Class this weekend. The kids were completely captivated by this book and were excited to work on their Firefly Jar pictures. They filled (drew) their jars with what brings them light in their lives...what makes them smile...what makes them feel safe and warm. Family, pets, hearts, and...night-lights (some took it a little more literal :). We then of course practiced our Firefly poses!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ms. Karen, can you teach us how to float?

Pose of the Weekend...
"Ms. Karen, can you teach us how to float?"
I was kind of taken aback by this one! Maybe after years of practice with an intense amount of concentration...maybe. For now, Lifted Lotus is probably about as close as we were going to get to floating, kids!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Believe in You Remix

Because you're never too young to follow your dreams...MattyB is 7 years old and since he was 5 years old he has wanted to be a dancer and singer. His big cousin Marshall Manning aka "Mars," is 22 years old and is a very close family member. Mars is a great influence on MattyB because his music is Clean with Responsible lyrics that do not promote inappropriate content for children. Since Mars has been writing and recording Rap music, MattyB often memorizes Mars Lyrics and sings along. Recently MattyB has begun to persistently write down his own lyrics and request that Mars put him on YouTube. MattyB has a real love for Rap and wants to share this with the world. Mars is helping little MattyB accomplish his goals to create music and share it with others.
I had to share!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bubble Fun

Bubbles are a staple of summertime fun. Give a child a bottle of bubbles...endless fun. Luckily bubbles also serve as a great tool for teaching deep breathing. Taking a deep inhale and a slow exhale through the wand is the way to form the perfect bubble. This week for Poolside Yoga at the Cranford Swim Club, we broke out the bubbles...taking long peaceful breaths filling our space with bubbles.
As the class came to the end it was time for savasana. Savasana is the last and most important pose of a yoga class - total relaxation. Arms fall to your sides. Legs relax completely. This is also a good time to check in with your body. See how you are feeling after an asana practice. I usually remind the kids to do a body scan checking in with each muscle from feet to head. And then quiet the mind and relax the body. Put those two things together and what do you get...
Bubble Savasana!
The kids LOVED it! As they laid back relaxing on this hot summer day, I showered the kids with bubbles. Eyes shut tight, their faces held ear to ear smiles as bubbles fell all over them. What a great end to a wonderful summer class!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yoga 4 Kids: The Board Game

Yoga 4 Kids: In the Rainforest!!! I was so excited upon finding this game - and the Alluem Kids were equally thrilled to be playing such a unique board game! Marita Gardner Anopol, kids yoga instructor and creator of the Yoga 4 Kids board game, did an awesome job at pulling together a creative and unique custom art board game to bring yoga to children.
"Follow Yoga, Oscar, Grace, and Alex through the rainforest in the fun new Yoga 4 Kids Board Game. Roll the dices to see where you land on the trail, and follow the directions further into the rainforest or into a new yoga pose. Each card in the game has detailed instructions on how to perform a specific yoga pose, and how the pose benefits mind and body."
What I love most about the game is that there is only one game piece. The players move through the game as a unit, moving the one piece from the starting line, through the rainforest, to the end - Savasana. It was a perfect opportunity to teach a lesson on how we - the kids in the class, the Alluem community, every American, the entire human race - are one. We are on this path called life together, no one more important than the other, all here to help one another.
I love this game!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Little Kid Meditation

Focusing the mind and connecting with a sense of self is beneficial for children on so many levels. One of the best ways to bring that to a child is through meditation. Children can begin meditating at any age as long as the child is willing to try it. Since children are so impressionable and feed off the opinions and emotions of the adults that surround them, the introductory approach to meditation is key. Make it relaxed and fun. The child should not feel stressed or feel like it is a punishment for high energy. Be sure it's a positive experience so it is something the child can revisit during times of shyness, aggression, impatience, or anxiety.
The Alluem Little Kids were introduced to meditation this past weekend. The kids in class were 4, 5, and 6, so naturally we wouldn't be engaged in a seated meditation for very long. Luckily, I came across a wonderful book David Fontana and Ingrid Slack's book Teaching Meditation to Children. A small portion of the book talks about Kinhin. Kinhin is a Zen Buddhist walking meditation that translates to "stillness in movement". The meditator pays attention to each shift in the body upon each step. The goal is to maintain a state of relaxation while focus the mind. After reading about Kinhin, I knew this form of meditation would be ideal for children, especially the younger ages. It's also a great prep for still meditation.
We began our kid-friendly version of Kinhin, by waking up our feet. Lifting the toes, spreading them out, planting them firmly into the ground. Standing tall on the toes lifting the heals, then planting them into the ground. Feeling all four corners of the feet on the ground. We walked mindfully around a line of bolsters - heal, toe, heal, toe. Next on tippy toes with airplane arms. Then taking giant lunges with hands on hips. Engaging the imagination, we took big floppy steps like slashing through puddles, quick short steps like walking on hot sand, and heavy steps like sludging through sticky mud. They moved with awareness paying attention to the difference between each type of walk, varying speeds and intensities.
Slowing down back on our mats, we focused on our breath using the Breathing Ball. Simply watching the breath helps bring awareness to the connection between our breath and how we feel. How do we feel when we breath fast? Slow? Place your hands on your rib cage and feel how the lungs expand and contract. Feel the cool air pass through the nose on the inhale and warm air pass through on the exhale. While some kids may exaggerate on this exercise, that's okay, as long as they are experimenting with the breath.
The final stage included a visualization. The kids were asked to place their pointer fingers on the space between their eyes on their forehead and imagine a big white screen there. Without any additional prompts, they were to imagine a picture on the screen that makes them smile, something that brings joy to their heart. Finishing, I counted to 10 while they stayed as still as they could with their picture in mind. The kids came up with beautiful images such as Princess Ella, Martha the Dog, and the bending of the 4 elements (yes, you know - earth, water, wind, and fire) and were giving some time to draw them. Easing into savasana with the image in their mind, they seem to rest a little calmer this time around. There is no doubt that having meditation as a tool, will ease the transition from childhood into adulthood in these kids.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Homeless Meditation

I recently wrote a post for Elephant Journal. It doesn't have to do with children's yoga, but it's more of a personal reflection, experience that I had while living my days as a NYC commuter. Perhaps it will touch your heart and remind you to be mindful of each other - no matter who they are...something I try to instill in every child that walks into an Alluem Kids class.

"My heart broke as I was walking down 23rd St. this morning on my way to work. I've worked in New York City for almost 6 years now and I take the time to walk 2 miles from Port Authority to my office in preparation to sit for the rest of the day and stare at a computer screen. One can see a lot in a 2 mile stretch in the city and over the years, I've become very immune to my surroundings. I no longer flinch when someone randomly yells or shouts profanity, I don't jump at the sound of horns and sirens blaring, seeing a rat is like seeing a bird and I can dodge people rushing down the streets with the reflexes of a professional athlete (if you want to call walking through the city a sport!). There is just one thing that gets me every time...the homeless. Walking the same route, I see a lot of the same homeless people. Being the yogi and human that I am, I try to give what I can when I can - spare change, some of my lunch. When I realized one can only give so much out of their own pockets, I started bowing my head every time I pass and say a prayer for them - send them well wishes for strength and courage to make it through another day on the street. I ask for them to be protected and safe and find the path that will help them get back on their feet. And as I rush by to get to my desk job, my heart pounds wondering how can I do more to help?

Today was especially hard as I walked by someone I've never seen before - a young man maybe in his late 20s sitting cross-legged by the subway entrance. He had a small cardboard sign in his hands that read "HIV+ and Homeless. Please help." His eyes were shut and his hands were in prayer at his third eye supporting his head. He looked lethargic and weak and by the way he was sitting, he looked like a yogi in meditation searching for strength. As my eyes welled with tears, I kept walking. I wanted to go back and I fought with myself to keep walking - I had to get to work, but I wanted to help. I said a prayer.

In a world where there is pain and suffering, there is also hope and love..."

Read the rest of my article posted on

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Camp Alluem Kids!

August 9th-12th
ages 8-12
Keep your child's yoga practice going this summer!
At Camp Alluem Kids, children will enjoy an afternoon of asana, meditation, breathing, and relaxation techniques in a safe, nurturing, non-competitive atmosphere. Games, crafts, journaling, and nature walks by the river will complete your child's fun-filled week!
Space is limited! Sign up today!! Visit the website-workshops tab!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Bonding

2 yoga mats.
You and your kid.
A shady spot in the yard.
Spending quality time with your child no matter how old, can mean the world to them. I came across this video on YouTube of Yoga Instructor Ally Hamilton and her son, Dylan. It is the sweetest sight to see - little Dylan letting go and having fun right along side Mom doing Sun Salutations. What a wonderful time this must have been for the both of them. Take time this summer to spend sometime together with your practice. Let yoga be your bond. Doesn't matter if your child is doing all the poses "correctly"...just let your child be! Namaste!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010