Under the sea: A Peaceful Gesture scuba and yoga adventure

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After returning from a weekend at the beach, I felt inspired to theme my class around the ocean and breathing. Both are connected as one sound. The passing of the waves are a string from the sound of breath.
I took my kids yoga class on an adventure. Inspired by Yoga Eds ‘Yoga Planet’ cards, Under the Sea activity, the kids put on their wet suites and went scuba diving. I put out different objects such as a scarf, a drumstick, a stuffed horse, yoga chips and more onto the floor, which we imagined as the ocean.
The kids pretended to put on their scuba gear and practiced their scuba breath. They got their strength and swam or crab walked through the ocean finding treasures and gold. As they moved consciously through the room they found their treasures and then once they were finished we met back in are circle. Within the circle we shared what we found on are scuba adventure.
The kids used their imaginations describing a red scarf as a crab or a drumstick as a squid. They came up with imaginary treasures such as a crown and other royal objects. I added the yoga chips in there as gold. Each yoga chip has a pose on it and once we were done sharing are treasures, we dug into the pot of gold and chose the different poses. Each pose was a piece of gold. The yoga is the gold. We felt abundant picking gold and doing the poses. The kids were shiny and blissful after savasana.

Happy Solstice Yoga!

Today started my kids yoga summer camp! Perfect timing and a perfect start to the summer! We danced, we created yoga poses and we made tshirts! So much joy and happiness filled the space as we initiated the beginning of the most playful time of year!
As the children entered the room, I encouraged them to place their mats in an angle, which would create a circle. I described how our circle represented the sun and how our sun represents summer.
We began by sitting in a circle and introducing ourselves by saying our name and what summer means to us. The children replied with answers like ‘Summer is going to the pool’ to ‘Summer is going to the beach.’
Next, I explained that seasons change and that this is the beginning of summer. I explained that when summer begins we have the summer solstice. I explained the solstice in the most simple language that I could. I told them summer brings more joy, happiness and play into the lives of everyone….
To get them moving I turned on some playful music and had them get up and dance around the room. Then once their fire was ignited, I sat them back on their mats.
Here is a quick run down of the poses we did to bring in the summer:
*Cooling breath
*Community Tree….here we gathered in a circle as we held hands while standing in tree. I explained to them how trees give us shade in the summer and how they also give us shade and flowers.
*Sunrise/Sunset
*Twisty flower with bee buzzing breath
*Rock pose

Next I wanted to encourage them to create their own poses. So I sent them to the window to gaze out and look for things that reminded them of summer.
They came back on their mats and each one told the circle what they saw and what it looked like. They demonstrated what it looked like by creating their own pose. For example, I had a boy say ‘grass’ and demonstrated the grass by standing tall with his arms over head. I asked him ‘what happens when we cut the grass?’ Each one of them replied by saying that it gets shorter. So I then showed them chair pose as a way to show ‘cut grass.’
After asana practice I handed out white tshirts and fabric markers for them to create their summer tshirts.

Once the shirts were done we laid in savasana and soaked up the solstice…

This was a joyful way to start the summer! Each of them brought home a new awareness of summer and of course a new shirt to play in!
I am looking forward to next weeks class!
Hooray!!!!

Kid yoga | WCNC.com Charlotte

Here is the link to the segment I did on Charlotte Today. Although I appear at first to be nervous, which I was, it was so fun to be there and spread my love for kids yoga. This message is so important to me because I believe in yoga and I believe in the positive impact that it will have on the future generations. http://www.wcnc.com/charlotte-today/Kid-yoga-158445905.html

Offering Cookies…

Tonight in my kids yoga class I started them out in circle time and asked them to complete the sentence ‘I feel…’

As I went around the circle, I allowed each child a chance to hold ‘Guppy the finger puppet.’ They completed the sentence with answers like ‘I feel loved’ to ‘I feel happy.’ One child said ‘I feel sad…’
From a place of compassion and concern, I asked ‘why?’
She said ‘ My grandpa is in the hospital.’
In that moment, I remembered my phone conversation from earlier in the day. My mom had called to tell me that my 2 1/2 yr old nephew was in the hospital for an intense case of strep throat. I couldn’t help but mention my sorrow for both my students grandfather and my little nephew.
The class showed compassion too and in this moment we gathered in our circle with palms at the heart and dedicated the sound ‘OM’ to our sick friends and family. We opened our palms and offered peace. We took our offerings and placed them in the center of our circle. The children expressed offerings such as ‘cookies’ to ‘all things that are good for them.’

The power of compassion, love and prayer was shown in this circle. Children truly know how to channel deep spiritual love from the bottom of their BIG hearts. The power of Love and Compassion are easy places for them to access.

Namaste….

Kids Yoga Camp!!!

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Come play yoga! Starting June 21st I will be teaching an eight week kids yoga camp. Come drop off the kids and take a Power Yoga class in the other room. Class is from 9:30 to 10:30. We will do yoga, dance, sing songs and do creative projects. Sign up for our early bird special before next week. For more information contact me or visit Charlotte Family Yoga’s website at http://www.charlottefamilyyogacenter.com
Hope to see your little one on the mat!!!!

YOGA and ADD/ADHD: How to approach ADD/ADHD without the yellow pill

When I was growing up, I was tested, diagnosed and medicated for learning disabilities along with ADD/ADHD. I remember driving far distances with my mom to go through this process and I remember sitting in psychologists offices being “quizzed” and “tested” with different methods like blocks, cards and other methods that would determine my “disease.” I was in the third grade when I started taking the little yellow pill, also known as Ritalin. I spent my elementary years all the way through college taking this little yellow pill (on and off) that was prescribed to me as a “fixer” for my ADD/ADHD. Through my years of taking Ritalin and being categorized as being ADD/ADHD, I noticed my level of anxiety increasing and my body weight dropping. I never had an eating disorder and I was always involved in sports and other physical activities. However, because the Ritalin suppressed my appetite and made me look and feel unhealthy, I was often asked if I had an eating disorder. This assumption only increased my insecurities about feeling different and along with my level of anxiety, I felt like a hot mess. I was not lead to yoga at this time in my life and I know now that had I been doing asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation, then I would not have taken Ritalin nor would my anxiety level have increased. There are so many benefits to yoga and ADD/ADHD and with the rise in children being diagnosed and medicated, it is important to educate parents and teachers of these benefits. It is important not to medicate the child and to expose them to more holistic techniques that will not deplete their energy or their creative abilities.
The little yellow pill was the pill that tuned me into the classroom and allowed me to achieve multiplication and spelling. Math was one of my diagnosed learning disabilities and achieving the subject helped boost my confidence in the classroom. What didn’t feel good was the Ritalin and the coming down off of the drug.  This would cause me to act out in emotional outbursts, which left me feeling frustrated beyond words. Every time that I would try and get off the Ritalin and go to school Ritalin free, my grades and performance would drop, which then lead to parent/teacher conferences and then eventually lead to me being held back in the 4th grade.
As I look back, when I was not on Ritalin, I remember only achieving in math, science and social studies when my teacher was on a topic that actually interested me. In the meantime, one thing that was never considered in my diagnosis was the fact that I always achieved in arts, creative writing, gym and recess! It appeared to me that they never considered arts, creative writing and gym as subjects that were important enough skills to develop or have in this left brained world. Although recess may not have been a subject, it still showed that I was social, playful and in love with the outdoors.
If I was such a star student at recess and gym, then I surely would have appreciated doing yoga at school. There are so many benefits to yoga for children with ADD/ADHD.
Benefits for ADD/ADHD from Yoga:
* Relaxation and de-stressing
*Quieting the mind
*Improved focus
*Decreased fidgeting
*Decreased impulsivity
*Promotes the connection between mind, body and spirit
*Increased strength and flexibility
*Improved respiration and energy level
*Balanced metabolism
*Can help promote a sense of need from others.

Asana
According to Marsha Wenig’s book Yoga Kids, “since focus is at the very core of yoga, it might seem nearly impossible to convince your attention-deficit child to hold still in a pose for more than a moment, but you’ll find the act of doing yoga is often enough to hold her attention.” It takes regular practice for children with ADD/ADHD to be able to receive the benefits of yoga. These children should practice at least two to three times per week. They will benefit most by doing a full hour of yoga at school or with their parents. As a kids yoga teacher, I find it difficult for the younger children to practice for more than 45 minutes and easier for older children to practice longer. The key to teaching children is to mix it up. Making cards is a good technique because the child/children can pick different poses or groups of poses for each session. As someone who was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, it seems right that I have created my own games and activities to use in my yoga classes. I have created games and activities centered around memory and brain challenge simply because that is what I remember doing in my diagnosis process/therapy. These games don’t test the child’s brain and attention ability, but rather helps develop it according to their own process.
Children with ADD/ADHD should avoid loud or fast poses because they are likely to become overexcited and over stimulated. They need poses that require a lot of strength and concentration- like the Warrior series and balancing poses. The combination of breathing exercises with asana helps children with ADD/ADHD develop greater body awareness, emotional balance, and concentration, which increases their capacity for school work and creative play.

Pranayama

Why prescribe Ritalin when you can do pranayama? Pranayama is an excellent technique for children with ADD/ADHD because it helps to calm the nervous system, decrease stress and improve focus and the ability to concentrate. Exercises like Bunny Breath help children to boost their energy and clear their minds. This breath gives them a feeling of relaxed alertness, which is an optimum state for learning. It also balances the brain through the rapid intakes of oxygen that provide the brain with essential fuel. There are several other pranayama or breathing techniques that can benefit children with ADD/ADHD. Below is a list of other pranayama techniques and the benefits.
*Sighing Breath: allows the child to release stress by sighing out of the mouth.
*Sun Breath: helps the child feel the rise of the inhale and the gracefulness of the exhale.
*Humming Breath: allows the child to feel the hum in different areas of the body like the chest, face, lips, and throat.

Meditation/Mantra
There is no question that we live in an over stimulated world where technology has divided our attention and created an even more demand for meditation. Children are affected by this just as much due to computers, video games and television. It is important to educate the child/children about meditation so that they can learn to still their minds and not become over stimulated. According to the article How meditation helps multitasking “attention is like a muscle that needs to be trained. If the muscle is untrained, the mind wanders all over the place all day long. The same thing applies to any skill- it takes practice. Media multitasking involves the ability to attend to something and make a decision . Part of what kids should learn is to make a choice.” This is related to the fact when children meditate they are more likely to stay focused on a task for longer periods of time without any distraction. They also learn to listen to their inner voice that guides them to slow down and choose the task that is more important versus the one that can wait. Children will not learn these techniques unless they are taught them in places like school.
Another form of mindfulness that children with ADD/ADHD can benefit from is mantra. Sat Dharam Kaur said “while chanting, 84 meridian points on the upper palate are stimulated, creating all kinds of beneficial brain chemistry alterations.” She believes that chanting mantras can help balance neurotransmitters in children with ADD/ADHD. Chanting also helps the frontal lobe activity. The frontal lobe is responsible for Executive Functioning, which is an area of the brain that is underdeveloped by anyone with ADD/ADHD. When this part of the brain is underdeveloped it makes it harder to pull it all together and be successful. Executive Functioning is said to provide the ability to plan, organize, task, control emotions, keep track of time etc.. Studies have indicated that the results are positive when testing this part of the brain at the same time that one is chanting mantras. Chanting and meditation have no side effects and the results last longer than any yellow pill that a doctor prescribes.

As an adult I have used all of the techniques that I mentioned in this paper. I started asana practice while in college and at times still took my Ritalin. After awhile I began to notice the effects of yoga and discontinued the Ritalin. By having a regular yoga practice along with other changes like diet and exercise, I noticed my grades increasing to higher g.p.a’s than when I was on

Hot/Cold Fun Yoga Game!

I remember playing the game hot/cold as a child. My dad would hide my toy somewhere so that I could find it. When I was far away he would say ‘cold’ and the closer I came to the toy, he’d say ‘warm.’ Once I got right near it, he would say ‘YOU’RE ON FIRE!.’ The mysteriousness of the objects hiding place would have me looking while also being encouraged by my fathers voice. I also remember playing this game with teachers and friends as we would hide various objects.

I have found that this game is a good way to get kids to interact with one another while encouraging the other to find the hidden object.

To me it is related to yoga. How? In yoga we find ourselves. It’s not necessarily an easy or fast process. We often go to cold or hot places that leave us wondering where to turn next. Where to go to find the truth. Just like in the hot/cold game, we are encouraged by are family, teachers and friends on the place that is best for us.

So where does kids yoga come in?

*Take yoga pose cards and use one at a time as a hot/cold object.
* One child leaves the room while the teacher hides the yoga card under a mat.
* The child re-enters the room to find the yoga pose. The other kids in the class encourage the child to find the pose by using ‘hot and cold’ as signals of where it is. Kids may use terms like ‘you’re in the arctic!’ to ‘you’re on fire!’
* Once the child finds the pose, everyone in the group performs the pose.

The teacher can also give the child playing a stamp or sticker after he/she finds the card.
You can find ways to prepare them for the game. Mindfulness exercises and breathing techniques like volcano or sigh breath help calm them while also preparing them to concentrate. Kids love interaction and they love encouragement. They love being challenged where they can be rewarded. If you are in a class situation where you need an assistant, you can ask a parent to volunteer by sitting outside the class and distracting the child from going back into the room.
Whatever you do have fun and do yoga! Kids love to play and believe me, kids enjoy acting like a dog or a cat!
Enjoy!

Om Shanti….