One of my favorite yoga teachers talks often in class about what she calls “head fakes”. She is referring to how people who do yoga may think that they are there to stretch or change their bodies, but in actuality the yoga is changing their minds. For example, while on the mat you learn how to breath through a difficult pose—coming to your breath instead of your mind or a reaction to come out of the pose—you  relax and the pose becomes easier. This then translates when off the mat during a difficult situation or an argument when you find yourself coming first into your breath before reacting which likely changes the outcome of the situation. Another great yoga to life analogy is “how you are on the mat is how you are off the mat”. If you don’t try to get up in crow pose, do you also stop from trying new things in life out of fear? Or, if you break from a pose because it is difficult, do you also tend to not complete projects in your life or go after goals when things get challenging? Those life revelations or “aha moments” are what I love about yoga.

So how does this apply to children? As parents or teachers I believe it is our role to help children learn about their strengths and who they are. It is a fact that if an individual knows what their strengths are and makes sure that their life is full of activities that put to use those strengths, they will have a more contented life. How do you learn about your strengths? Being aware of oneself and what activities bring joy is a great place to start.

I have a game that my kids in class love to play that helps them think about who they are. I call this game yoga bowling. The kids can either sit in butterfly pose with their feet touching, or, to make the game more challenging, they can stay in a crab crawl position. They find a spot around the room and I roll a ball toward them (the pins). They can either move side to side in butterfly pose or scatter around in crab. If they get hit by the bowler, they must stand in tree or mountain pose and answer a question that I ask. My questions are all about them. What is your favorite activity after school? What is your favorite book? What is your favorite food? What is one of your favorite memories? You get the idea. What I find interesting is that the kids don’t end up trying hard to NOT get hit. They want to be asked questions about themselves. They want to share all of their skills, desires and favorites. Those questions are not asked often enough in their lives and yet the answers are so much more important to know than the capitols of each state. Try spending some of those rare quiet times with the kids in your life asking them questions about themselves and see their eyes light up.


New Products that I Love:

I just ordered a yoga tool that I am sooooo excited about. It is called a Thumball. I saw something like this idea in this months Family Fun magazine and was going to make a yoga version when I came across this great product line. Thumballs are soccer balls with different words printed on each hexagon. There are many versions such as “Ice Breaker” and “Who are You”. The idea is that whoever gets the ball picks it up and answers a question or does some activity where their thumb rests. Brilliant! I also picked up an animal and alphabet version as those will work well with games that require yoga poses.

Another game that I recently discovered is called Totika. It is like Jenga however there are cards that have color coded questions. When you pull out a colored piece, you must answer the correlating question. The catagories are Life Skills and Principles, Values and Beliefs with a Self-Esteem deck also included with each. I have the Life Skills version on its way and will try it out on my family before bringing it into class.

Play, laugh and learn!