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I was looking through my idea folder for some new inspiration. I came across a torn out Family Fun Magazine page. Although originally pulled out for an outdoor game on one side, I was pleasantly surprised to find inspiration for a new way to play the old favorite game telephone on the other page.

Here is my yoga version.

Have everyone sit down in a circle. Jot down three yoga moves on a piece of paper (so that you can remember the sequence!) Whisper the three moves to one of your students. That person passes the message on until the message makes it all around the circle. The last player to hear the message announces the instructions aloud and leads the class in acting them out.

To make this even trickier, and to get more people announcing the instructions more quickly, have two messages go around the circle in opposite directions.

Have fun!

Photo by B&M Photography

In one of my favorite books that I use for teaching life lessons (10-Minute Life Lessons For Kids), I came across this story. You can duplicate this in class very easily.

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group of high powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.”He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good.” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “That’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.” What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life? Your children; Your loved ones; Your education; Your dreams; A worthy cause; Teaching or mentoring others; Doing things that you love; Time for yourself; Your health; Your significant other? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. If you sweat the little stuff (the gravel, the sand) then you’ll fill your life with little things you worry about that don’t really matter, and you’ll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff (the big rocks). What are the ‘big rocks’ in my life? Start asking yourself that question to simplify your life. Always remember to put the big rocks in the jar first.

Photo by Kevin Chodzinski

It is impossible not to be effected by the horrendous catastrophe that took place this week in Haiti. It is also easy to be confused as to how to help. So many organizations are calling out for donations to aid the Haitian people in getting back on their feet and rebuilding. I am always a little leery as to where I should put my money. I decided to just pick up my phone. Our society has a hard time putting our phones down. Don’t hesitate now! It’s as easy as texting “Haiti” and dialing 90999. The $10 charge is added to your phone bill. Piece of cake. Do it once. Do it twice. It’s easy and it makes a difference. Check out this article that I found on Tonic (which is a great website that focuses on positive news). Let your fingers do the talking and make a difference today.

Photo by Sean Michael

My sister mentioned at lunch today that her family keeps a jar in the kitchen and throughout the year they write down things that they want to remember. Come New Years they read their year in review memories. I thought this was such a wonderful way to preserve special family moments. I’m heading out to buy pretzels that come in the huge plastic jar with the wide rim tomorrow. Thanks sister! You can come over to help us eat those pretzels anytime!

I am not a big resolution maker. I did however think about some things that I’d like to focus more on this year. One area that I’d like to concentrate on is to improve my writing and this blog. I never new how much enjoyment I would find and how many new friends that I would make when I started clicking away last year.

Another area that I want to focus on is being more mindful of giving – to my family, my friends and even to strangers. This year I am making random acts of kindness a goal. I will be thankful, grateful and appreciative. I will try to spread more joy and happiness by giving unconditionally and with sincerity and feeling.

So thank you my readers for reading, commenting and coming along this ride with me. I am most grateful and appreciative of your support.

There is a great website called www.live-inspired.com that sells little “window” cards with wonderful quotes that inspire. Some of the themes are Thank You, You’ve Got A Friend, Spirit, Brilliance and Hero. I have decided to keep some in my car and randomly give them out when the moment strikes. I would also like to use them in my yoga classes too. I was thinking of having the cards on the kid’s mats as they come in on a day when teaching a class with theme of friendship or gratefulness.

I will leave you with a quote from the brilliance card category.

Begin doing what you want to do now.

We are not living in eternity.

We have only this moment,

sparkling like a star in our hand—

and melting like a snowflake.

~ Marie Beynon Ray

Midtown is hosting David Romanelli this weekend. David is known worldwide for sharing his yoga+chocolate and yoga+wine experiences. Click here to find out more and to reserve your spot!

Photo by Janie Jones

Yoga parties are a healthy and creative way to celebrate a birthday. I can bring the yoga party to your location or schedule parties at Breathe yoga studio in the village of Pittsford. Either way the kids get a unique, active and fun yoga hour to mark their happy day with friends.

For this event it was decided weeks beforehand that the birthday girl wanted a dog theme for her yoga party. I offer many themes for parties, as well as, customized party ideas and this puppy party was going to be fun to create from scratch. For each theme, the different elements of the party (group intro game, breath work, warm ups, pose concentration, yoga games and guided relaxation) change to fit the theme.

Group Game

In all of my classes and parties, I begin with a group game to help create a connection. The birthday girl requested the “alphabet name game” which gets everyone moving and warmed up for more fun. In this game, we go around the circle and create a pose using the first letter in each name. Each child shares a pose or makes one up and then the whole group does the pose. Each new pose is followed by the preceding poses creating a very dynamic flow.

Breath Work

I then introduce some breathing exercises. For the puppy party, I combined the traditional bunny breath with a lion breath and created the “dog breath”. You begin by inhaling through your nose and then you stick your tongue out and pant 4 times. We do this three times. I then showed them a fun snake breath which is done by inhaling raising arms into the air and then exhaling with a hiss as your arms slither down to heart center. This breath starts the kids linking breath with movement.

Yoga Warm Up

I customized a theme based doggie warm up. For the dog party, we took our puppies on a nighttime adventure. The dogs followed moths into the woods, barked at owls flying in pursuit of mice, encountered snakes slithering through tall grass, happened upon a horse farm and fell into a pond filled with frogs. Finally our puppies chased some cats home, where exhausted by their adventure, lay down on their backs to rest.

We also worked on our down dogs using the song “Who Let the Dogs Out”. The kids did some strenuous yoga while in their down dogs. Lifting legs to shake their tails, flipping their dogs into wild dogs and alternating between howling up dogs and barking down dogs. Within all of the fun is some serious yoga!

Pose Concentration

We then took out bean bags and practiced balance poses . We worked on balancing on one leg in flamingo pose, tree pose and eagle all while trying to keep those been bags from falling.

As all dogs love balls, we took out our big red bouncy ball and played “Catch the Cat”. Sitting in boat pose, you begin to pass the ball around the circle using your feet. This is the dog. Once the dog is half way around the circle, the cat comes out. I use a smaller ball for the cat. The dog ball tries to catch the cat ball. No one notices how hard they are working their cores as the laughter ensues.

We also used our balls to practice plow pose. I place the ball between a girl’s feet. She then lifts her hips up and over her head to either drop the ball in her outstretched arms or (if there is room) to the feet of another girl behind her.

Final Game

For this final “dog show” game which is variation of musical chairs, I printed out dogs doing various activities. Many of the activities are poses that we reviewed during the party. Some were new. After reviewing all of the poses, I  placed the dog cards on all of the mats. I turned on music and the group walked around the mats. When the music stopped, the girls get on a mat and do the designated pose. Each time the music stops, the girls must find a pose that they did not do. I try not to do any games where people get “out” to keep yoga non-competitive.

Savasana

For savasana I usually provide breathing buddies for the class to place on their stomachs to help them focus on their breath. For this party the birthday girl’s mom wanted to treat each girl to a dog Webkinz. After the initial excitement of receiving this new toy, the girls quieted down to some guided relaxation.

The party was a success. Smoothies and veggies and dip were enjoyed. What a great way to begin a new year!

Photo by Justin Price

Driving home from my sister’s New Years Day brunch (a tradition that I usually make at my own home but was thankful for this year’s change of venue), my husband stated to my six-year-old who was in the midst of a staying-up-until-midnight-the-night-before meltdown that she was in control of what was happening. She was able to make the situation better or worse by her own thoughts. That was a jaw dropping moment.

Let me back up a bit to say that my husband has become very serious about yoga. I admit that he has been taking more classes than I have lately. I regularly teach and have a home practice, but he is knocking my socks off as far as getting into the studio. I’m so proud of him. I know it makes him feel great both physically and mentally. But until this moment in the car, I didn’t realize that yoga was starting to seep into his life off the mat. After focusing on the physical asana and breathing during class, he was getting the “it” of yoga. Yoga is the unity of breath, body and mind. Through the breath (pranayama) and the body (asana), mindfulness can be found. Interestingly, studies show that through mindfulness one can actually increase spirituality.

I had another yoga moment today of my own. I woke up wanting to get a run in before doing an errand. I was planning on taking the dog to the park to run in my snowshoes. My son surprisingly wanted to come along. When we got to the park, I noticed that we’d lost a lot of snow over the night and that snowshoeing and sledding were no longer options. My son is not a fan of running for running sake so I readjusted my plan to walk with him and enjoy our time together.

The dog was having a blast running wild and the snow was perfect for throwing. Knowing how my son’s mind works, I stated TWICE that I didn’t want to be hit by any snowballs. TWICE. The next thing I know an icy snowball is dripping off my face. I did not take that yoga breath before raising my voice questioning him as to why after two very specific requests I still got a mouth full of snow. He stomped off angrily and we both felt disappointed that the morning was turning to the dark side. I then decided that it was up to me as to how this was going to turn out. I was in control of my thoughts, my actions and this very moment at hand.

One of my resolutions for this year is to laugh more. So I picked up a handful of snow, made a perfect ball and as my son sulked on the path in front of me, managed to hit him smack center on his back. After his initial shock of my sudden attitude change, we started running through the woods, hiding, throwing, laughing and connecting. By the time we walked back to the car, my son who hates to run, managed a mile in the snow with both a smile on his face and in his heart… and I did too.

Make this year a year of yoga both on the mat and off. You will not be disappointed.

Namaste and Happy 2010 to all.

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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