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I’ve put in the training and now am counting down the clock until Sunday. Race Day.

As I prepare to travel to run the Marine Corps Marathon, I am finding my thoughts very scattered. Going from what I need to pack, to the weekend schedule I need to write for my parents who are watching my children, to the errands that need to be done before I leave, to my son’s swim practice and homework afterward, to the question of whether there is time to go out to eat or whether it is wiser to just stay in for dinner… and what would I make if we did. I actually was in my car twice today on my way to do an errand with out really knowing where I was going or what I was getting.

I am not in the moment. I am already running this race. Stop. Breathe. Focus on right now.

It is so hard to not project into the future. I know that if I think about right now, it will all come together. If I think too far in advance, I will overlook something or everything. This goes for race day. If I run this race with my mind on that finish line or the potential obstacles that may prevent me or impede me from reaching the end, I will not have experienced my first marathon. If I drive in autopilot without being present I miss everything, even the purpose of the journey.

I have a number in mind that I’d love to see when crossing the finish line. But my real goal will be to be present throughout the race. If I experience the fans, the sights and the music while finding “the zone”, that place where you lose yourself in the action, that will be a true race day success in my eyes.

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Why do family yoga? To both deepen the connection with those you love in a playful way while deepening your stretches in poses with the help of your all too eager family members.

I spent an hour Saturday teaching a family yoga class. My family joined me making it very special. There were 6 families and we started out placing mats in a giant circle with each family grouped together to make family/partner poses easier. The ages ran from 3-adult which created a very fun and dynamic mix of energy. Here is the sequence of the class:

Breathing Exercises

  • We started using slinkies to help us visualize our lungs expanding and contracting with breath.
  • Then each family partnered up to do some back breathing using the slow breath that we practiced first.
  • We began to link body and breath with sunrise/sunset pose – starting in child’s pose, inhale and rise on your knees extending your hands above your head like the sun rising and then reverse the direction ending back in child’s pose.
  • Finally, we did some cat/cows linking breath to each pose.

Sun Salutations

  • Kids helped show their parents how we reach to the sun and then say “hi” to our toes.
  • We hissed in cobra and barked in down dog. The poses may not be difficult but it is sometimes hard for us adults to let go and act like a kid and see the fun in something that we usually take seriously.

We focused more on Downward Facing Dog while listening to “Who Let the Dogs Out”.

  • We lifted a leg to shake our tail. We brought our knee toward our opposite wrist and then lengthened our leg back behind us and then brought our knee toward the same wrist then lengthened it out again.
  • We rested in child’s pose.
  • Then we got wild and flipped our dogs saying hi to our families.

I then led everyone on a sequence with some tropical island flair.

  • We listened to steel drums while breathing like elephants, picking bananas like monkeys, stalking prey like tigers, slinking around like lizards, hissing like cobras and drinking water like giraffes.

We spent the rest of the time doing family partner poses.

  • Sitting on a rock. One person rests in child’s pose (usually the larger adult) while another family member aligns the pant line of their pants with that of the person on the floor and gently sits. The person on the bottom gets a deeper spine stretch. Be careful if you have knee issues.
  • Lizard sunbathing on a rock. Starting in the same position with one person in child’s pose, the second person furthers their stretch by lying down head to head and extending their arms side to side.
  • Down dog tunnels. Everyone lines up side to side in downdog and everyone takes turns slinking through the tunnel and getting back into downdog.
  • Double down dogs. One person gets into down dog. The second person stands at the feet of their partner and faces away. Then the second person slowly lifts their feet onto the sacrum (pant line) of the first and gets into their own down dog.
  • Group tree. Touching palms everyone lifts into tree pose, raising hands into the air.
  • Group airplane. Everyone comes into a circle and gets into airplane with hands reaching out toward each other.
  • Group boat. In a circle everyone does boat with feet touching and holding hands.
  • Group flower. In a circle everyone starts in butterfly pose with feet touching, then slip arms through legs and grab a hold of  the hands next to you.
  • Partner boat. Holding hands facing each other with leg bent, extend legs up together while balancing on sit bones.
  • We ended the group poses with each family creating a unique pose of their choice.

We played a breathing game with each family trying to keep a scarf up in the air with their breath.

And finished with savasana.

It was a really wonderful way to spend time with my family while sharing the joy of yoga.

Some of the resources that I used to help gather ideas for this class were a dvd called Yoga for Families led by Ingrid Von Burg and a great book called Playful Family Yoga by Teressa Asencia.

Photo by Amanda Hirsch

Photo by Amanda Hirsch

As I have posted previously, teaching yoga to kids is very different than teaching adults. It is yoga play and typically proper alignment is not stressed. Once a session, however, I take out some props and teach my classes of kids between 5 and 11 some alignment. The kids love it when I bring out the yoga props and although I am speaking alignment, the idea that I am treating them like the adults makes this class special in their eyes. The props are like presents and the excitement is palpable.

Here is a list of poses that we do using different props:

3 lb Pilates Balls

1. Chair pose with chest press

2. Chair pose with chest press and side leg extensions

3. Partner seated twists – sitting back to back with legs crossed twist to one side to pass the ball and then twist to the other side to retrieve the ball.

4. Standing splits – press ball into the air, lift one leg back as you touch the ball to the floor.

5. Boat pose holding ball

6. Boat pose holding ball to one side and then twisting to the opposite side

7. Standing back to back with feet mat distance apart pass ball back and forth with forward bends between legs and then with a small back bends above head.

Wall

1. Chair pose against the wall

2. Warrior one with foot against the wall

3. Warrior three with foot pressing against the wall

4. Warrior three with finger tips touching the wall

5. Tree pose touching wall

6. Dancer pose facing and touching the wall

7. Half Moon with foot pressing against wall and the use of a block for hand

8. Handstand prep against the wall

9. Tripod headstand against the wall

10. Camel pose with hips against the wall

Blocks

1. Half Moon with foot pressing against the wall and the use of a block under hand

2. Feet up the wall with blocks on feet (avoid if the blocks are too heavy and use hardcover books)

I haven’t used blankets, bolsters or straps with the 5-7 year-olds but the 8-11 year-olds love to use blankets and bolsters during savasana. What I especially like about introducing the wall is that you see the kids take more risks with poses knowing the support is there. The kids all love to try handstands and they really open up in half moon.

We ended classes this week with a lot of giggles doing a group chair pose against the wall – one person starts against the wall and everyone else sits on each others laps. The kids are amazed that they can hold the weight of the entire class on their lap and the occasional falls upon trying to stand back up gets everyone laughing to savasana. I posted a while back about a great “life lesson” using chair pose against the wall. Check it out here.

Namaste.

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

I’ve been teaching a lot more classes for the younger crowd. Pre-K, Storybook with parent, Mom and Baby. I have loved teaching these little guys. Each week I am slightly surprised to see which classes go swimmingly and which is having an off week. My storybook class has been really fun, fast (just 1/2 an hour) and a great mix of ages from parents of toddlers to 5 year olds. Each class starts with a breathing exercise, a centering song, sun salutation and then we add some new poses and read a story while acting it out with yoga poses, finishing with savasana. The class has been going really smoothly. Today, not so much. I had some new families mixed in with some regulars. It was a good class size. What went wrong? I remember the exact moment when I missed the boat. I had my pre-class music on and I went to change it and it went right to the centering song. I like to start seated, talking through a breathing exercise but I decided to just push along. Mistake. I missed that moment in class when I connect with the kids and parents. I recognize each person and there is an exchange in some way which helps connect them to me and to the class. I missed this key ingredient today and it was noticeable. One of my regular little boys was not interested in participating as much and the newer families also had some reluctant participants. I continued with the class but the energy was just off the whole time.

I remember reading a post from my fellow kids yoga blogger Aruna Humphry that classroom management is not about “controlling” the class but connecting with the class. I totally believe it. To get the respect of your class you first have to “see” the class; its so important to interact with the children so that they know that you’ve really seen them. It is similar to parenting in that if you are always talking to your children with your back to them while doing something else, your children miss the connection although you may have heard what they were saying. Stopping what you are doing, crouching down to their level, looking in their eyes while they talk is a confirmation that they matter and that you both hear and see them.

I found these great classroom management videos on youtube. I love the premise, and, although I have not implemented the ideas yet, I have a plan when the need arises. I would love to hear what other kinds of classroom management techniques people use to connect to their students and keep the class running smoothly. Please share!

Current Classes:

MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB

Mondays:
6-7:15am Power Vinyasa (H)

Thursdays:
6-7am Power Vinyasa

Story Time Yoga
1-1:45pm

Sundays:
5-7 year olds
9:45-10:30am
8-11 year olds
10:45-11:30am

STUDIO MOVE!

Wednesdays:
10:30-11:30 Power Vinyasa

Fridays:
Yoga for Athletes
9-10am

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