Monthly Archives: December 2011

breaking bad…

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there’s a story about mahatma gandhi that one day a woman came to him and said: gandhi-ji (or whatever she called him), my son has such a bad habit. he will not stop eating sugar! i have brought him with me today. he won’t listen to me, but i know he’d listen to you. if you would just tell him to please stop eating sugar, i know he would stop.

gandhi (probably) smiled (i mean, i wasn’t there…perhaps he wasn’t smiling, but i think he was), and said: take your son back home and come back in six months. at that point, i will tell him to stop eating sugar. she left.

six months passed and she returned with her son. gandhi simply looked at him and said: stop eating sugar. and the boy stopped.

but the mother couldn’t understand…why did she have to wait six months for him to say that? “because,” gandhi answered, “first i had to stop eating sugar myself.”

as a children’s yoga instructor, you have this magical gandhi-like power to change the way your students behave and feel. because you establish a non-threatening, non-didactic, yet still extremely wise relationship and they are often more willing to listen to you than their own parents.

but are you walking the walk? or just talking the talk?

this new year’s, i encourage you to look at the habits that you are trying to break…and every time you remind your students to live better lives, step back and remind yourself as well.

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you’re going to think i’m mean…

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yesterday, i was working with a group of 3-5 year old. precious, precious little girls. and there is one girl in particular who just steals my heart away. she’s four. let’s call her mia (all names are changed to protect the innocent!).

anyway, this group loves to invert…headstands, handstands, shoulderstands. it’s all they want to do and they never want to come down. except little mia. she is scared to death of the very thought of doing an inversion. literally, every time i even mention it, she tears up and almost cries in utter anxiety…until i assure her that she doesn’t have to do it unless she wants to. huge sigh of relief…like the kind that lifts all the air in a room.

i have managed to get mia to do headstand prep (tripod with legs on arms), which she “loves”, and backwards handstand (feet up the wall in a modified down dog), which she “loves loves loves”, but despite my assurances that in tens of thousands of spots, i have never once dropped anyone, no can do. every class she assures me “i’ll do it next time” or “i’ll do it when i’m five”.

so…yesterday i had this great idea. i bought “courage” bracelets for everyone (like the livestrong kind) and said that everyone who does an inversion with me gets one. oh, the kids were jumping out of their skin to be the first to go. mia, “it’s okay. i don’t really want a bracelet.” she says this, by the way, not in a downtrodden way, but in a self-assured, “oh well!” kind of a way.

okay. so, everyone’s done their inversions and she is the last one. i walk over to her and she says she’ll practice by herself without help. i said okay, but can i stand by and watch. she was cool with that. i watched her once. great. i watched her twice. good job. third time, she puts her head down and i go in for the kill, grab her waist and pull her up into a full headstand.

she freaks out a little. all the kids are cheering her on. then she actually uses her little abs to curl all the way up (wow!) so she is basically sitting right in my arms (upright), facing me. the blood has rushed from her face in terror. but i don’t react. i let out the biggest smile and the loudest cheer and i parade her around the room so everyone can cheer her on for doing the headstand. and as i do…huge smile…and then “i love love love it!”

it was a great day for mia. and me…

so you want to teach yoga to kids…

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People are always asking me if they need to take a full adult teacher training in order to teach yoga to kids. The short answer is no, you don’t have to take an adult training. The long answer is this:

Yes. You definitely should take a full adult teacher training in addition to your kids’ training if you are planning on teaching yoga to kids professionally. And (shameless plug) you should take your kids’ training with mini yogis.

Taking an adult training shows that you are committed to your practice and serious about your personal growth as an instructor. It shows that you walk the walk and adds credibility to your teaching.

It also gives you a ton of information to use in your classes. I always say in my trainings that the more you bring in, the more you take out. If you’ve been practicing the same sequence your whole yoga career (say, Bikram or Ashtanga, or even just limiting yourself to one teacher who teaches the same sequence every day) and only know a couple dozen poses, you are going to be at a severe disadvantage to those who know thousands of postures and variations. Kids need variety to keep them interested.

Not to mention the fact that a good teacher training will explain the do’s and don’ts of proper alignment…which translates into safer poses for your students and fewer (if any) injuries.

When choosing a teacher training program, make sure that you take a few classes with the lead instructor beforehand, to make sure that you resonate with his or her style. There are a lot of fabulous instructors out there that may not necessarily “speak” to your comfort or sensibilities. Just because they are well-regarded, doesn’t mean that they will be well-regarded by you. Remember, you will be spending hundreds of hours listening to this person. Make sure you like them.

Also, be sure to check out the instructor’s level of knowledge and expertise. And, if you can, get an overview of the curriculum before the training so that you know that it is a comprehensive program. Make sure, for example, that if you are taking with your favorite teacher that s/he will actually be covering the whole spectrum of yoga poses and philosophies, anatomy and adjustments, etc. in depth, not just the surface information s/he has already presented in class.

You may also want to also ask around at the various studios near you if they recognize the training that you are attending. Not all studios recognize all trainings and it would be a bummer if you invested so much time and energy into a training that will not open any doors to teaching.

So, choose wisely, learn, grow, and enjoy. A full adult training is an amazingly rewarding investment that will pay itself off over a lifetime.

best kid gratitude statement ever…complete with diagram!

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i have already posted this on facebook and emailed to my lists, but i fear the brilliance may have been lost on many…so i must repost.

at first glance, this is just a cute little gratitude bit. mini yogis student, age 8 (let’s call her rebecca, as that’s her name), makes a picture of what she is thankful for.

now, it’s the words that make this sweet, but the diagram at the bottom that makes this absolutely precious! notice the hatch-mark through “dead”…in case you didn’t catch on that being alive meant not being dead, this diagram makes that so vividly clear. now i get it! she’s thankful for her life…happy girl in bottom right.

may your life also be filled with gratitude! ♥

christmas + hanukkah yoga

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As the holidays are upon us, I just wanted to offer two quick activities you can do with your kids: one is a Christmas activity and the second is for Hanukkah.

Decorating the Christmas Tree:

Have the kids break up into pairs. One will stand in tree pose (Vrksasana) with arms outstretched and palms facing up. The other will have a stack of blocks. Any kind of blocks will do…toy blocks, yoga blocks, even bean bags or beanie babies would work. Have the child who is not in tree, “decorate the tree” by stacking and balancing the blocks on his or her hands, arms, etc. See how many blocks can be balanced and how long the pose can be held without knocking over the stacks or falling. You can also have some sort of star (cardboard, stuffed, etc) balancing on the tree’s head. Or, even harder, have the builder keep a star balanced on his or her head as s/he builds.

Lighting the Hanukkah Candles:

Have all the children lie down in plow position (Halasana). Walk around the room and as you tap a child’s feet, s/he will “light the candle” by lifting his or her feet into the air into shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana, also known aptly as candle pose). Once all the candles are lit, you can have them very slowly “melt” back into plow and then (just as slowly) all the way down to savasana.

hi world!

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hi world,

i’m here to talk about yoga for kids. but if you want to talk about yoga in general, i can do that, too. in fact, if you want to talk about life in general, that’s cool. we can even talk about the entire universe–in general–if  you like. or we can just talk about yoga for kids.

i’ve been teaching kids yoga since early 2002, when i left business  school and corporate america to roll around on the floor with children instead. best thing i’ve ever done.

so, for now, i’ll tell you what i can of what i know about working with kids. it’s a lot. though what i really recommend is that you attend one of my mini yogis teacher trainings around the world so you can teach everyone else all the fabulous things you know, too.

more than anything, working with kids is fun. teaching them yoga is amazing. and i’m incredibly blessed to be here.

so, hi. and namaste. and all that good stuff,

shana

324 sun salutations

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for solstice, i had my class do the traditional 108 sun salutations. er…classes…three classes to be exact. and i did it with them. let’s do the math. 108 x 3 = 324. i did 324 salutations in a day. 327 if you count my class of kindergartners that day.

if you’ve never embarked on  your own 108, it’s really not that bad.  you get a break every 27, and it really flows quite easily. once the bitching and moaning die down, people are generally amazed at how manageable the whole process was. and they all want to wear their “i did 108” stickers with great pride.

anyway, the first 108 didn’t feel like much at all. second 108, i’m getting a bit tired. third 108, a great test of my poker face. let’s just say that when i got to my final client that night, i couldn’t have made it from plank to chatauranga without a broken nose being involved.

anyway, don’t think this is some form of child abuse or something. having your kids do (or at least attempt) 108 salutations is a great way for them to build perseverance, patience, and pride. fight the resistance!