Tag Archives: yoga for kids

just another sweet little supposi-story

Standard

so, i’m teaching a private to two awesome little four-year-olds…a boy and a girl.

i notice that the girl is scratching a lot…down there. so, i ask if she’s okay, if she needs to go to the bathroom, perhaps…

she says she doesn’t need the bathroom and goes on to explain that it feels like there’s “something up there.”

quickly the boy pipes in “i know!”.

i spin to him…how could he possibly know? i mean, besides the fact that he pretty much knows everything…

“a suppository, right?” he proudly exclaims, his pride in his worldly knowledge gleaming across his face.

her reaction could best explain why the following emoticon was invented —–>  :/

apparently, that wasn’t it.

about that long…

Standard

when i teach kids, they love to watch me do some tricky stuff…arm balances, inversions, funky transitions…things like that.

today, i was teaching a bunch of children–some of whom i’ve been working with longer than others–and they were begging to see a yoga trick. so i did one and they all ooh-ed and aah-ed. and one girl always asks the same thing: how do you do that?

this girl, by the way, is obsessed with handstands and is pretty much trying to kick up every free nano-second available between poses or activities. she’s amazing for her age, but long holds aren’t yet in her cards.

i explain to her that the reason i can do some hard stuff is because i listen, i’m patient, and i practice practice practice.

she responds, “yeah…it’s like you’re a pro.” (some might say that’s exactly what i am…).

of course i try to impart that with patience and perseverance, she can do it, too. i’ve just been practicing for a really long time.

at this point, a boy pipes in–he’s new to this particular class, but not new to working with me–“i know,” he brags, “because you practiced yoga for so long ago with me!”

“yeah,” i agree out loud. and then think to myself…that’s about how long it took me to master this stuff….

fyi…the boy is now 3 1/2 and i’ve been working with him for almost a year…  😉

the number one question in kids’ yoga

Standard

savasana has to be the most overlooked and under-appreciated pose in all of yoga.

poor savasana.

afterall, you’re just lying there, doing nothing. how important can it really be?

certainly, you can find better things to do with your kids’ time. handstands, for example! or stretching! or tree!

not.

fact is, savasana is the single most important pose in the whole asana practice. in fact, the entire practice is devised to prepare us for savasana. for, nestled in savasana, is the key to all asana…complete and unaffected stillness and quietness.

oh…and even if yoga didn’t think savasana so very important, think about it: kids, stillness, quietness. seem like good skills to me.

i would go far as to say that the primary benefit of yoga for kids is teaching them how to quiet down, get still, and foster self-control.

overall, i am quite lenient with alignments in a children’s yoga practice, working in broad strokes and general directions. but when it comes to savasana, things get very specific.

this is a pose done lying flat on the back with feet relaxed and about a foot apart, palms open and about a foot from the body, nose faces the sky, eyes are closed.

and as i reiterate repeatedly to the kids, nothing moves. not a finger or a toe. we don’t scratch itches, play with our hair, or pick our noses. we’re working on becoming frozen still.

and herein comes the number one question in all of kids’ yoga. i get asked this just about every class…and in complete sincerity…

“are we allowed to breathe?”

“yes,” i answer, “the parts that breathe are allowed to move. i highly encourage breathing…”

and so, all my kids do eventually emerge from corpse pose alive and intact. thank god they asked me before they just went ahead stopped breathing…

a burn across my whole chest!!!

Standard

so, i’m teaching a class of ten-year-old girls and do these girls love to talk. and talk. and talk.

and one girl is getting sort of lost in the gabble and she announces excitedly that she got a huge burn across her entire chest the day before and then gestures with an outstretched palm across the entire width of her chest. she had everyone’s attention now.

first i’m thinking, “how did that happen? a huge burn across her entire chest? was it a sunburn? cooking burn? god forbid, abuse?”.

then i’m thinking, “why are you at yoga??? why aren’t you at home…or in the hospital????”.

then i’m thinking, “why are you so happy?”.

she goes on to explain that she was cooking and she accidentally hit herself somehow with the pan and it was full of hot oil….and did we want to see?

okay…ten-year-old girls…a little too old to be pulling up their shirts to show everyone their chests. i quickly suggested it wouldn’t be the best idea. but the other girls were adamant and our tragic little burn victim assured me it was okay.

before i knew what was happening, she starts lifting up her shirt for the big reveal…but she stops short of her rib cage (thank goodness)…so it’s not exactly her chest. okay…we’re all girls here.

“do you see it?” she asks.

everyone is confused and searching.

i’m looking hard for this huge disfiguring traumatic swath of a burn. but all i see is a teeny tiny pink mark around the area of her bottom rib. and i mean teeny, tiny, like a baby’s pinkie.

she looks down at her “chest” and points to the little pink line. “there! there it is!”

lots of oohs and aahs all around. her war wound was enough to impress all the other girls…and i guess i don’t have to call child protective services afterall…

 

 

a hole in my mouth!

Standard

i had a fairly busy day after lunch yesterday.

first i had to meet with a new yoga space…or at least with the person in charge of said space. you know, meet, greet, smile. 🙂

then i went to teach a class of 14 kids and their parents…all of whom were new to me. you know the importance of first impressions, et al. big smiles all around!!!  😀 😀 😀

on to my next client, starting with a meeting with the mom, followed by class with her almost-five-year-old son. a boy i’ve been working with for years and who has no inhibitions with me at all.

so, we’re just finishing meditation and he announces to me “shana, you have a hole in your mouth!!!”

i wasn’t sure what that meant. of course, my mouth is a hole, but beyond that, what kind of hole could i have? i asked him where it was…was it my chapped lip, which was a little cracked?

“no! it’s a hole! open your mouth!” i opened the mouth for my pint-sized dentist as he pointed and declared “you have a cavity!”

now, if his dental credentials were a tiny bit stronger (maybe a preschool diploma, at least), i might take this more seriously. but i assured him i did not have a cavity.

“it’s right there! on your tooth! a hole!”

“ohhhhhhh,” i said, “it’s probably just a piece of broccoli that got caught in my teeth.” i poked around a little.

“no! it’s black!”

okay, it was time to get back to yoga. i laughed, “then, it’s blackoli!” and we went on to do our yoga class.

the episode was all but forgotten until i found myself approaching the yoga studio for my next class and i decided to give a quick check in the mirror. in fact, i had what must have been the entire skin of a black bean stuck to one of my teeth and, well, it looked like a gaping hole in my mouth.

i hear first impressions are everything. how awesome that the first 30 people i had encountered since lunch will now have a mental imprint of me with a big gaping hole in the front of my mouth.

it’s the buddha smash!

Standard

one of my very favorite students has been diligently planning his birthday, exploring his vast options. granted, planning his birthday parties is pretty much a year-round sport for him, but now, just two months away from the big FIVE, it’s time to get serious.

today he asked me–not unlike a formal interview–“shana, do you do yoga birthday parties?”

“of course, i do!” i told him.

“well, what do you do at a yoga birthday party?”

i explained that it’s sort of like his own yoga classes, but even more fun and more games and more crazy…and no one even has to meditate.

no meditation! now, that got his attention. i made it to the second round of questioning.

“oh, cool.” he says in his extraordinarily precocious off-handed manner. “and…have you ever seen a yoga pinata?”

a yoga pinata…now’s there’s something i never thought of! i tried to picture what a yoga pinata might look like…

maybe a guy in seated meditation, full lotus, and as you smash and smash at his, er, equanimity, his mula bandha falls out?

perhaps a girl in handstand, hanging by her feet and once you eviscerate her skull, maybe there are like gummy brains and guts that fall out onto the floor?

or….?

hmmm…that one did leave me at a bit of a loss, but whatever it looks like, i just hope it doesn’t have my face.

kumbaya!

Standard

i was working with one of my all-time favorite students yesterday. this eight-year-old boy hangs on my every word, does everything i say…with a smile, no less, and if he falls, always asks “can i try it again?” if i could clone this kid and work with him all day, i would.

well, add this to his list of awesomeness:

we were in the middle of practice yesterday and he suddenly asks me, “can we sing ‘kumbaya’ in yoga some time?”

i’ll admit, at first the question just cracked me up. i thought the only kids who sang “kumbaya” anymore were the kids of “south park”…as a joke.

but he was dead serious. he wanted to sing “kumbaya” and who was i to stop him?

and, let me add, he didn’t just sing kumbaya. he belted it at the top of his lungs with his huge toothy smile as accompaniment. it was a lot like being back in summer camp in the 70’s (yes, i’m dating myself here), only without the pinky swears and panty raids.

after we were done, he explained to me, “‘kumbaya’ means peace. and the whole song is just like ‘peace. peace. peace. peace. peace.’ because you know…it’s about peace. so it’s enough.”

kumbaya to that, little dude, kumbaya!

what it means to be special…

Standard

the other day, i got an email from a mom who wanted yoga for her child for very specific reasons. she listed the reasons and then went on to assure me “…but my child is not special needs“.

ah…special needs. who wants their kid to be labeled as a kid with special needs??? other children have special needs! not my child!

well…here’s the cold, hard fact. every child has special needs. that’s right. every child is a special needs child.

how dare i say that? i’ll take it even further…every person is a special needs person.

come on. what is all the stigma about? we all have special needs, unique experiences, different backgrounds, specific frames of reference. yoga isn’t “one size fits all” any more than life itself is.

every child that i work with gets special attention intended to address his or her specific strengths and challenges, mindsets and attitudes. having special needs doesn’t make a child defective. it just makes him human.

http://www.miniyogis.com

college prep yoga!

Standard

kids these days are pretty amazing with their college prep. mandarin and ballet on monday. tennis and art on tuesday. spanish and french on wednesdays. don’t forget soccer and cooking every thursday. fridays are set aside for swimming…then rest! only one class! weekends…religious school, gymnastics, sports teams. and the most amazing thing of all…these kids are only in kindergarten.

seems you can’t start that college prep too early.

naturally, these parents would like to see their children in yoga, as well. not only because they would like their kids to be well-rounded individuals (one more activity!), but because their kids are suffering from stress and anxiety (go figure!) and they want me to teach their children stress relief, calming, and grounding techniques.

i love working with these kids (and i have a bunch of them). yoga gives them true life skills and these kids are not just smart, but wise. like little forty-year-olds in four-year-old bodies. more often than not, they are whisked into yoga immediately from another activity and are just as quickly whisked away to the next…sometimes mid-savasana. wonder why these kids are stressed out?

and here’s the frustration: time and time again, the moms wind up cancelling the class because yoga no longer fits in their schedule. there’s no time for yoga–the activity that is meant to decrease the anxiety and stress built up by the myriad other classes and engagements that take up every second of these kids’ lives. no one needs yoga more than these pint-sized powerhouses.

it’s amazing how backwards this line of thinking is. granted, yoga won’t get your kid a college scholarship or earn him huge piles of money when he grows up (unless, god forbid, he becomes a yoga instructor), but it will give him the life skills to deal with life’s challenges and stresses and live a mentally stable and balanced life.

if you ask me, i think yoga should be the most important activity these kids do all week.

of course, i’m just a little bit biased…

Image

NOW i’m humble…

Standard

one of the schools i’ve had a yoga program at for years and years was having their bi-annual enrichment showcase and, of course, i wanted to show my case for mini yogis.

twice a year i go, do a fun and funky arm balance and inversion sequence, get oohs and aahs and lots of sign-ups.

this time–for some weird reason–i thought i’d do something different. just one really cool pose and that’s it. but i let them vote first: one extra-super-cool pose or a whole sequence of cool poses. they voted for extra-super-cool.

so i went to the wall and did a one-handed handstand (as i can’t do that away from the wall yet). and then i did my spiel (sign up for yoga! yoga is cool! yoga is fun! you can do this, too!) standing on one hand.

fine. clap clap.

then came the capoeistas –new to the school, completely foreign to the kids. they started standing on one hand (in the middle of the room, of course) and then proceeded to flip, twist, bend, balance, and, well, i guess fly would be the best word for it…all over the place.

the kids went crazy.

and oddly enough my yoga registrations came in at a tiny trickle that session while capoeira’s wait list stretched from here to new york city.

lesson learned. next time i’ll stick with the arm balances and inversion bit.

humble pie eaten.

burp.