One of the coolest things about teaching kids yoga is being a kid yourself! The adult part of me plays and participates in the activities. My heart is playful and soft when I can express my youthful side. I was so that kid who could have benefited from yoga. I started wearing glasses at age 7, I had
/ADHD, I was (still am) left-handed, a middle-child, held back in the 4th grade, wore braces, started my period when I was nearly 15, attended boarding school and then lost my dad at age 20. Everything from a young age all the way until I was 22yrs old felt awkward.
I am not stating that this was negative. I just know I was different than everyone else. It’s a sigh of relief as an adult to understand and gather my purpose for being alive. Teaching kids yoga is the most rewarding and peaceful way for me to express my childhood.
I was so that kid who went from one brain activity to the next. If I wasn’t trying to gather information from the conversations in the living room, then I was either playing ‘school’ in my basement or rolling down the stairs backwards. I remember the first time I discovered how to roll down the stairs backwards in a contorted position. I was in the afternoon kindergarten class and in the morning I would practice my moves at home on the stairs. It was my warm up before kindergarten. Perhaps I was preparing myself to be present for class.
As a child I was always into some form of ‘other’ being. I had a scooter (not the motor kind) and I would ride a few blocks down the road to Wildwood Pool. I remember a peer making fun of me behind my back for doing this. I didn’t understand why riding my scooter to the pool was considered so freakish? I thought it was cool.
Experiences like this made me develop the feeling that I was an outcaste. As a teenager, I didn’t make cheerleading because of my lack of coordination and my double-jointed arms nor was I ever going to be the one crowned for homecoming queen, which thank goodness my boarding school didn’t nominate those things.
Feeling like an outcaste then lead me to feeling anxious and stressed. I never understood how this anxiety developed until later on down the line. I was afraid to be myself. Deep down I wanted to be this hippie chick who wore hippie clothes and nose rings. My anxiety and feeling of being different made me wear conservative preppy clothes. I knew I was cheating myself. I knew I was lying to the real me. I mean really, those who reallly knew me, knew I was a free spirit.
So in the 15 years of practicing yoga, I have developed an awareness of who I really am. In the past few years, I have totally dropped my baggage of feeling like an outcaste in my childhood. I have opened up and given myself the permission to be more eccentric.
I look back and see these qualities as gifts. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Being quirky has lead me to some of the most peaceful places within my soul.
It is a gift to share yoga to children. I wish to lead them to an awareness of themselves where they will never be afraid to be who they are meant to be.
The holidays are coming upon us fassst and as a kids yoga teacher, I am feeling the urge to start dancing and prancing like a reindeer. I keep thinking of ideas and how to incorporate them into my classes.
Here are a couple of creative ideas (just check back as I may have gingerbread sprinkled over my head while sleeping)
*If your reindeer did a yoga pose, what would it look like?
* DANCER/PRANCER RUDOLPH! Similar to DUCK DUCK GOOSE. Kids move like a reindeer around the circle calling DANCER/PRANCER until the child then chooses RUDOLPH. Whoever becomes the Rudolph (with their nose shining bright) the child goes to the middle of the circle and teaches a yoga pose. It can be one of their imagination or a traditional pose.(you could also put a bucket of poses in the middle and have them draw from that)
Santa Yoga Sequence by Classroom Yoga:
It is a very calm night (calm breath) Not a creature is stirring. Not even a mouse as they say.
You look up into the beautiful sky and see the bright and luminous moon (beautiful sky and crescent moon).
A bright star is shining in the sky. (shining star) Underneath it you see something flying. Is that superman? (airplane) No. Maybe it’s an eagle? (Eagle)
Nope. It’s a very large man with an enormous belly. It’s Santa Claus of course! You hear, “HO, HO, HO!” (Santa Breath)
He’s sitting in his flying sleigh being pulled by reindeer (chair)
As it blazes across the sky, it swoops down and lands on your rooftop! (Rooftop Partner Pose)
He walks over to the chimney. (tower: legs wide, arms up overhead) Santa tries to go down it, but he gets stuck! “Ho, ho ho, oops!” (“I’m stuck” pose: chair with hands clasped in front of you) He takes in a big breath and then exhales it all out to make himself a little skinnier, Then WHOOSH! Down down down he falls
and kaboom he lands! (boat pose)
Santa inhales and stands up smiling as he brushes the soot from his red and white suit. (body brushes) He sees a cookie on the table. (table) He takes one bite, but it’s one bite too much! His buckle pops! (buckle-breaking breath)
Santa walks over to the beautiful tree (tree) Underneath it he leaves you a present. He smiles and waves goodbye. You hear a “ho ho ho” and he is gone. (santa breath)
You tiptoe over and look under the tree, but there is no tag. No wrapper. No gift box at all. But….? But…? Suddenly you can’t stop thinking of all of the good things in your life you already have. Your body fills with joy. That’s it! The present is the gift of gratitude.
The Gift of Gratitude is…
Close your eyes and inhale and exhale through your nose calmly. Feel the air rush in. Notice it as it leaves. Now picture in your head something you are thankful for.
-a person who loves you
-a warm place to sleep
-your favorite meal
-a special experience
-someone who makes you smile
-someone who you make smile
-just being here right now and breathing
Keep inhaling and exhaling calmly as you create a picture in your head. Do you notice anything? How does it feel to be grateful? (ask students to share outloud).
THE SNOWMAN By Relax Kids
Close your eyes, be very still, and imagine that you are a snowman standing in the middle of a sparkling snowy garden. Everywhere you look is covered in crisp white snow. The sun is shining, making the snow glisten brightly. You are a snowman standing in the snow, with a carrot for your nose, stones for your eyes, and sticks for your arms. You are wearing a brightly colored hat and stripy scarf. A snowman can’t move at all, so don’t forget to be as still as you possibly can. Feel as if
you are frozen right through, completely stiff.
A robin hops along the glittering garden, making tiny patterns in the powdery snow as he bobs along. Suddenly, he flies up and perches on your stick arm. Stay very still as he confidently hops up and down your arm. In a moment he takes flight, and off he goes silently into the wintery air. You are alone again, it feels good to be alone in this sparkling snowy garden. You like being quiet, you like being still.
While you are standing in the garden, take a few seconds to feel how peaceful it is on this sunny morning. The sunbeams are casting shadows on your snowy form- you are truly glistening and twinkling like thousands of tiny crystals. Feel the warmth of the sun on your frozen head and body. Very slowly feel yourself melting. Starting from your head, feel the snow melting and dripping down to the frozen ground. And now feel your body getting smaller and smaller, delightfully warm, and ready to move again. As each bit of snow melts, your body is transformed until there is only a pile of fluffy snow in the middle of the garden. You feel very relaxed and still, no longer a snowman.
And now, when you are ready, wiggle your fingers and toes, have a big stretch and open your eyes.
I AM STILL…I AM STILL…
Below are a list of holiday poses that came from http://www.lilsugar.com
Candy Cane (standing lateral stretch)
Plant your feet on the ground and put your arms together so they reach up high to the sky. Curve your upper body over to the right, take a deep breath, and then curve over to the left.
Bare Tree Branches (easy tree)
Stand on one leg and lift the other one making a triangle shape with your knee. Stretch your arms out like the bare branches of a tree in the Winter.
Partridge in a Pear Tree
While in tree pose, hook your thumbs together, and fly your bird all around the branches.
Stand with your feet wide apart and stretch your arms. No two snowflakes are alike.
Either keep your feet on the ground and move all around or run around the room like a snowflake flying all around.
Rat King From the Nutcracker
Lift your arm, swing your sword, and stand proudly on one leg.
One of the Three Kings
Kneel down on one knee and stretch out your arms to offer your gifts of gold, frankincense or myrrh.
Inspired by the King (cobra)
While on your belly, press your hands into the ground and lift your heart.
Stand on your knees and lift your head high with your mouth open to catch the snowflakes on your tongue.
Camel in Jerusalem (paste)
Stand on your knees, hold your heels, and lift your heart up to the sky. Catch a snowflake on the tip of your nose.
Gather snow from all around or roll yourself across the floor until you become a tightly packed snowball.