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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

IMG_0187IMG_0221IMG_0227IMG_0231IMG_0179IMG_0263IMG_0271The kids and I had a lot of fun in the park. We did yoga poses using animal cards. We saluted the sun and during savasana the class listened to a relaxation script that I read to them from a great book that I’ve mentioned before called “Ready, Set, Relax: A Research-Based Program of Relaxation, Learning and Self-Esteem for Children” by Jeffrey Allen.

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Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

I was reading this morning about how most children are not spending enough time in nature in a piece called How To Lick a Slug written by Op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.  I really believe that it is up to us as parents to expose our children to nature starting from an early age for them to really appreciate being outside in all of its natural glory. Sometimes that means getting uncomfortable in the heat or the rain. Sometimes that means not sleeping so well because of the root digging into your back or the rain dripping through the tent or the cacophony of animal sounds that descend once darkness arrives. It means we as parents must make nature important. We must take the time to take walks or bike rides with our children. We must remember to put the alarm on to see some natural wonder in the mid-night sky. I also know that sometimes life is really busy so if we as parent can’t take the time to be the nature guides, then summer camps can do wonders to help a child connect with the millipedes of the world.

Here is great news… yoga connects kids to nature! You can begin to teach your children how to connect with the natural world in your own home. You can start at any age and it’s free. Yoga poses were created long ago as a way to appreciate and connect with the world. The asanas we take to our mat visually and physically represent animals and objects seen in nature.

Here is a fun yoga game that gets everyone moving and thinking about how everything is connected.

Yoga games that are inspired by nature:

Walk Like This: (I adapted this game from Barbara Sher’s book Self-Esteem Games.)
In this game, you call out various animals and the kids have to move like that animal.

Have everyone stand in a line across a wall. Mark a “finish line” across the way.

  • Duck: Squat down with your hands behind your back and waddle to the line with the heels of your feet touching.
  • Crab: Sit in the traditional crab position. Turn sideways and walk to the finish line.
  • Kangaroo:Standing with your feet together and elbows bent with hands clenched jump to the finish line keeping your feet together.
  • Elephant: Bend forward with hands clasped in front swinging from side to side, walk with straight legs.
  • Lobster: Sit in crab position moving hands first then feet move toward your hands.
  • Caterpillar: Starting in child pose, transition into down dog, then slide your arms out until you are flat on the ground, then scrunch back into child pose and repeat.
  • Chicken: Squatting with feet together and knees apart, grasp your ankles from inside your knees. Walk and cluck.
  • Other animals that work well are bunny, seal, horse, and donkey.

Go on a yoga journey: This is an idea that works with 3-8 year olds. Have the kids help navigate the journey. How will you get there? Use many transportation poses. What did you see? Mountains, volcanoes, forests, jungles, all kinds of land or aquatic animals. You can take the journey to the desert and talk about desert plants and animals and weather, you can go planet hopping by rocket ship, you can to your nearest zoo or garden and become the animals, insects, flora and fauna that you encounter. The ideas are as limitless as your and the kids imaginations.

In class we also salute the sun, get down with dogs, stand still and strong like mountains and defy gravity in crow. We also have a lot of fun and its even better when you take class outside and use the wind for music during savasana.

Photo by John Goodridge

Photo by John Goodridge

I just happened to be at Target today with my family and found packs of animal flash cards in the dollar section. I bought two decks—Animals of the World and U.S. Animals. Each deck has 36 cards that are color illustrated on one side and has facts on the other side. What a great tool for teaching yoga to kids.

Ideas for how to use the cards in class:

  • Let each child pick a card and act out that animal in a yoga pose. If there isn’t a pose for the animal, have the child make it up!
  • One child acts out his pose. Then the class does the pose. You can go around the room with each child acting it out individually (as the classic stadium wave) or all together as a class.
  • One child acts out their animal pose. Then the class acts out the animal pose. Then the next child acts out his pose and the class follows, but this time the class also acts out the previous pose or poses. This creates a very dynamic, flowing class. Fun and energy releasing!
  • Teach 5-8 poses to the class using the cards as visual references. Then teach the card’s poses in the opposite direction. Then mix the poses up so the class feels how the transitions between the poses change when the cards are placed in a different sequence. Ask them whether it flowed better or worse each time you change the sequence. See if the kids can sequence the poses in as many different ways as possible.
  • Lay out mats in circle configuration. Teach 5-12 poses. Lay one pose on each childs’ mat. Turn on energetic music and play yoga freeze. When the music stops, the children get into the pose on the mat. When the music resumes, the children walk or run around the mat circle.

21VYM+CZx5L._SL210_I recently found great yoga cards called Creative Yoga Games for Kids made by Edna Reinhardt in Australia. These cards have inspired me and my classes for the last 6 weeks. The 48 cards are divided into groups of 6 card sequences. The cards come with ideas for games and learning. I have been introducing the poses in sequence and then doing them backwards and then having the kids try different ways to sequence them while thinking about transitions. I also have been playing a game called musical mats. I lay out a card or two per mat and the kids run or dance around to music. When the music stops, the kids must find a mat and do the poses. It is a great game and energy releaser.

Just a side note:
While the kids are doing their poses, I try to remember to make specific comments to each of the children about the asanas they are working on. It is so easy to provide general “nice job” or ” great down dog” comments but it is so much more beneficial to point out a very specific detail to comment about such as, “Tommy, your table top in your table pose is so flat that I can eat off of it!” or “Sara, I like how you made starfish hands in your down dog!” These types of comments create a sense of pride and help children learn about their strengths. It shows them that we are really paying attention and that we appreciate them… a great self-esteem boost.

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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