Friday, February 24, 2012

8 Limbs of Yoga - Week 5: Pratyahara

Week 5 is Pratyahara - control of your senses. We have 5 senses: Hearing, Seeing, Smelling, Touching, and Tasting. Our senses can sometimes control us - playing a video game and getting so completely lost in it we don't hear our mom calling us, smelling something yummy and indulging. In Pratyahara, our goal is to draw our awareness from outside sensory overload, to a more internal awareness of each one of our senses. It helps us achieve inner growth.
A little Sensory Awareness Test is a great way to start. Relaxing into a Restorative Bound Angle Pose, to be sure our bodies were so relaxed we could focus on our sense of touch. Eyes closed, hands open - the kids were challenged to pick which item brushed their hands from a collection of 8 items. A great way to hone in and encourage awareness of one sense.
We also thew in a Trust Walk to remind ourselves how lucky we are to have our sight. What would it be like to be without one of our senses, such as our sight. A great lesson in empathy as well.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

8 Limbs of Yoga for Kids - Week 4: Pranayama

Pranayama is breath awareness. Our breath is very important in yoga - it keeps us steady, focused, connected, and brings oxygen to our muscles to help us stretch deeper. Our breath is our life force, our energy, our prana. Learning how to breathe or just watching your breath can change your mood control your levels of stress. Being aware of our breath helps transform the energy in our body from stress to relaxation. What's great about our breath, is that we have absolute control over it! Try some of the breathing exercises attached below:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

8 Limbs of Yoga for Kids - Week 3: Asana

Asana = Yoga Pose
Many people think this is the only part of yoga - stretching and moving your body into different poses. Nope! As we have already been learning, this is only 1/8 of our yoga practice!! Asana is just as important as any other limb of yoga because it challenges us to explore and control our bodies becoming more aware. It also challenges your focus and your concentration as we hold poses and balance. And what a lot of people don't realize is that it also tests how you react to things in life. Take Plank Pose for example...after a couple of breaths, Plank Pose can become challenging. We can do one of 3 things here...we can fall out and give up...OR we can challenge ourselves and breathe through it...OR we can be gentle and hold for as long as we can, then maybe lower our knees, take a break, and come right back into it. Asana can help you really explore your attitude in life. For example...Math Homework. I HATED Math Homework. I didn't get it all the formulas! I would get frustrated and cry! I came to see that I could handle Math the same way I handle Plank Pose. I could just give up and throw my Math book out the window! (Eek!) OR I could breathe through it...slowing down my mind, telling myself I CAN do it! OR I could go to my limit and then take a break...walk a way for a little bit, but always coming right back to it with a clear mind.
Pay attention to how you react in certain poses - then pay attention to how you react in certain situations. I bet you'll find a connection!
Asana also has many benefits for our bodies - not just stretching and strengthening. Asana can help a headache, a stomach, or help us fall asleep. See the sheet below...learn about some of the benefits of Asana and have fun with it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

8 Limbs of Yoga for Kids - Week 2: Niyamas

This week we go a little more internally with the Niyamas. The Niyamas are all about self-awareness. When we practice yoga, it is most important that we listen to our bodies. When reaching for our toes, it's okay if we don't quite make it. Sure, some kids can reach the bottom of their foot in a forward bend, but that's not important. All that matters is that we are on our mats moving and breathing how we feel comfortable. We do yoga to feel good in our bodies! Not to push ourselves into poses that don't feel good! We may really want to get into a pose, but we won't always get there on the first try. Yoga is a practice - a self study. It is not to be rushed.
When we practice yoga, it is good every once and awhile to stop when we're in a pose, and do a body check - How am I feeling? Am I going too deep or not deep enough? How is my heart beat? Am I breathing? We want to feel happy and content in all of our poses. When we learn to figure out ways to be happy and comfortable on our mats...we ultimately learn to find ways to be happy and comfortable off our mats. And perhaps we need some aid along the way...on our mats we learn to use props - blocks and straps - to help us find comfort in the poses. Just like in life, we learn to ask for help when we need it.
It is so important for use to pay attention to our bodies in everything we do. How we place our feet. How we place our hands. And for the littlest yogis...we started that small. Our Yoga Hands are most important in this world.
"I spread my fingers wide and place them gently. Watching how I move, I do so quietly.
My hands will help. My hands will care. My hands will rise above.
My hands will always do good things because they're filled with love."