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A new session has begun and I found myself with first class jitters yesterday although I have been teaching for a while. Each group brings a different dynamic to the class. If I have a lot of returning students, I feel obligated to shake things up and not repeat too many ideas from my past lessons. Then a little voice in my head asks how can they get bored with repeating some games or yoga warm ups when most of them probably can sit and watch reruns of Phineas and Ferb for days on end!

There seems to be a predictable pattern to the dynamics in my classes. If there are a lot of siblings, class is a bit more energetic. The class will require some extra focus on classroom management. I find that if there are a lot of friends in the class that this usually also creates more distraction and less focus. Yesterday’s class had me chanting “If I say yoga, you say class… Yoga…the class shouts class, Yoga… class, yoga, yoga,yoga… class, class, class!” This is a very effective way to get the class to focus back on me and it is fun for them to do. You mix up how you say your part and can make it very silly. I have used tree and pose and nama and ste.

As a teacher, one must be able to reevaluate class plans and make quick adjustments. My 5-7 group yesterday had three boys and 10 girls. We had siblings and we had good friends and the class was a bit rowdy. I had planned to play the game Mirror, Mirror that my fellow yoga blogger, Donna Freeman at yogainmyschool.com mentioned recently but with this age group I find that the boys do not like partnering up with girls. I decided to switch to my favorite standby game Yoga Toes instead. In Yoga Toes, I throw out a big bucket of pom poms around the room and the kids have to use their toes to pick them up and put them on their mats. I sometimes have them drop them into cups. The kids count their pom poms and remember the number and then try to get more the next time. This game miraculously quiets everyone down… even the rowdiest of classes. It requires being very present which is a skill that the Mirror, Mirror game also helps develop.

My older group of 11-18 year olds had a lot of repeats but enough new students that we started with the Name/Pose game where each person says their name and then picks a pose. The whole group then does that pose. We continue to the next person and the group does that pose and then repeats the pose that came before it. We end up doing a flowing sequence and learning each others names. Yesterday we added a new idea to this game. After someone picked a pose we talked about the flow and transitions between the poses and if there was a break in the flow. The class decided where the person should move to make the sequence flow more fluidly. It was great fun moving people around and trying the vinyasa out again feeling the differences between smooth transitions and ones that feel out of sequence.

I’d love to hear how you begin a new session, if you ever get the butterflies and your thoughts about class dynamics.

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.

D Sharon Pruitt

D Sharon Pruitt

I began my day waking up early and meeting some friends for a run on the green trail which is one of my favorite places to run. The morning promised a beautiful day with the sun already shining and the heat building, wisps of fog dancing in the fields. I passed at least seven deer grazing while driving to the rendezvous point. One was the identical image of Bambi from the Disney film—it was tiny and had white spots unlike the other older deer wandering the fields. It is moments like that, which I would not have seen if my alarm didn’t wake me at 5:15 to venture out while my family sleeps, that make me feel grateful.

I had a great run with the  aches and pains d’jour not making a fuss and the conversation with friends flowing making the miles fly. I felt peaceful upon arriving home.

First day of summer vacation! The excitement for the fun to start created a frenetic energy that pulsed from my son. He was ready. The “for what” wasn’t planned yet. His sister wasn’t up yet and as the minutes ticked the frenetic energy began to turn into an unsettling grumpiness. When said sister did finally awaken, her surly brother was already waiting to bait and catch. My kids don’t wrestle or  fight physically. They are almost four years apart and that just doesn’t work. Instead they have developed other tactics that hurt—tattling, instigating, put downs. I’m sure these things are happening in every household but none-the-less they drive me bonkers and I just can’t have a summer of taunts, cries and whines. What can be done? Here are some ideas to help stave off the sibling rivalry. I will not hold them as fool proof, but give them a try. Let me know which work best for you and I’ll let you know how things progress here this summer.

If you have children that like to one up or put down their siblings, I found these ideas in the 10-Minute Life Lessons for Kid book.

One tactic to help cut down on put downs is to encourage the offender to say three compliments to the person that has been belittled before being able to continue with the activity that is taking place bringing awareness to the positive qualities of the sibling.

(I have a friend who makes her children pay 5 cents each time they tattle, whine or belittle their siblings. The money goes into a family activity savings jar. I like this idea but my children don’t get allowance yet so this won’t work for us.)

Another interesting activity for a family to do that demonstrates that a person’s love is limitless which may help with jealous siblings is to first give each family member a candle (the braided kind work best). Then mom or dad lights their candle and explains that the flame represents love. Each time you light a different member of the family’s candle discuss the love you felt for them coming into your life. After everyone’s candle is lit, ask these questions:

  • Did my light get smaller as I passed my light to each of you?
  • By giving love (light) to each child, was love taken away from the original child or spouse?
  • Is there more light with everyone’s candle lit than with just mine lit?
  • Do we have enough light as a family to share it with others who might need it — who may be sad or lonely?
  • What happens when all the candles are held together?
  • Does the light shine more brightly as a family or as individuals?

A great book that helps with all kinds of negative behavior is “1-2-3 Magic” by Thomas Phelan. The idea behind this book is that when your child is demonstrating negative behaviors such as whining, back talk, negotiating, sibling fighting you count them for each time the infraction occurs until three. At three there is a consequence. The consequence should be as closely related to the event as possible but taking away privileges works as well. In my house an earlier bedtime hour or reduced tv time are often used as consequences. If used consistently by both parents, this discipline technique really helps.

A final suggestion to temper heated summer moments between children would be to try some partner yoga. Did you actually think that yoga ideas would not be in this post! Partner yoga is a wonderful way to help your children connect and work together. It is fun and often ends in laughter. Partner poses to try can be found in this inspiring book called “Playful Family Yoga for Kids, Parents and Grandparents” by Teressa Asencia. Try these easy poses with your children or have them do them together.

Partner Boat Pose: Each person starts facing each other seated with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grab ahold of each other’s hands on the outside of your legs while placing the soles of your feet together. Using core strength, lift both feet up and straigten your legs while balancing on your sit bones in boat pose.

Partner Lotus Pose: Starting in the same way as above, grab ahold of each other’s hand on the inside of the legs this time and lift legs up with your feet touching and while balancing on your sit bones.

Sunbathing on a Rock: One person starts in child’s pose. The other person stands at their partner’s feet facing away from their partner. Gently, the standing partner lowers themselves down so their sacrum (lower back) is resting on the sacrum of their partner in child’s pose. The partner on top then drapes their body over their partner so that both of their heads are next to each other. Partners must talk to each other and respect each other. The partner on top then opens their chest up by extending their arms to the sides. When the bottom partner is ready, switch.



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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