Tag Archives: yoga

about that long…

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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…  😉

a burn across my whole chest!!!

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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…

 

 

it’s the buddha smash!

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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!

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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…

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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!

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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…

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this is home.

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it’s not always easy volunteering at a battered women’s shelter. the kids are sweet and polite as can be…but it’s sad. it’s sad that these kids have been taken away from everything that they know: their home, their room, their toys, their friends. as these kids try to piece together some normalcy in living in a group home, adjust to their new surroundings, there are a lot of inner conflicts, insecurities, and pain underlying the whole experience.

i love using yoga with these kids as a tool not only for calming and coping, but for playing and laughing. i love having an hour of seeing these kids smiling.

yesterday, we were doing turbo salutations and a four-year-old boy asked if we could do them even faster than a cheetah. “of course!” i said. and he continued on, telling me that he actually has a little cheetah.

wow. i wasn’t sure if he meant a real cheetah (!) or a stuffed cheetah, but he went on to clarify. “i have the cheetah at home.”

“home” is always a loaded word with these kids. my heart panged.

then, as much to explain to me as to rationalize to himself, he added “this is my home.” that just melted my heart…and i had to tell you…

fine art…

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in my closet, i have a huge collection of invaluable art work. i don’t have room to hang it all up, so some of it has to be kept in its most pristine condition in the closet.

today, a new piece of art.

one of my most precious students (age five…and the one who did the handstand!), handed it to me before class. i’m not positive what it is a picture of, though i’m pretty sure it involves some butterflies, a lot of letter a’s, maybe a house of sorts (?), and a random chunk of the page carefully cut out of one edge of the two-sided masterpiece.

as she handed it to me, with huge smile and unrivaled sincerity, she offered “here, shana. i made this for you. i worked very hard on it.” and i don’t doubt it.

i never throw away pictures like this. they all go into “the collection”. i really wish i had room to hang all the masterpieces that my kids give to me because they are worth so much to me…perhaps not in money, but definitely in love.

men!

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the other day, i met a new guy and as i talked, he was sitting there with the most beatific smile, hanging on my every word as if i were the most beautiful and scintillating woman on earth. and all i kept thinking was “awwwwwww…isn’t that cute?” the guy was five years old. well…almost five.

he was joining one of my mini yogis classes that day with one of his friends and we all had a few minutes to bond over finger food before class started. this boy was absolutely entranced with me. he laughed at all my jokes, answered all my questions, and i thought, “phew! i’ve got this kid wrapped around my little finger. he’s going to be a great listener in yoga.”

if only it were that simple!

when we rolled out the mats, my five-year-old admirer suddenly became that obnoxious guy at the bar who tries to get your attention by being arrogantly aloof, defiant and smugly smiley…showing off for the other kids how cool he really is. cool guys don’t listen to teachers. and they never allow themselves to be wrapped around some broad’s finger.

how did this precious little peanut become such a pint-sized recalcitrant nightmare? ultimately, it was probably my fault. when you are too jokey or chummy with a child before class, all they want to do with you is joke and play. you can’t just go from shana-clown to shana-yoga-teacher…no matter how fun you make the class. it’s like a bait-and-switch.

as with all men, there is a fine balance between getting the little guys to fall under your spell, but also always reminding them who’s really boss.

swing, baby, swing!

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man, i hate to publicize this even further…but have you seen this video???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnRmBD1I1kM

abc news goes so far as to call this woman, lena fokina, a yoga guru! seriously???

when i first saw lena’s full-length video a year or two ago (sent to me, of course, by a horrified parent), i thought it was certainly a joke. certainly that must be a baby doll. now “time magazine” and “abc news” have confirmed that this woman is for real.

okay…”horrified” doesn’t begin to describe my feelings about what this woman is doing with these babies. and the fact that she tries to pass this off as yoga….? and herself as some sort of expert????

the media–once again–presents this story as if any yoga instructor on earth would find this practice acceptable. guru???? did they look up the word “guru” before using it so flippantly in this video? a guru, as defined by wikipedia, “is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others (teacher).”

i feel confident in saying that there isn’t a single respectable teacher in the children’s (or broader) yoga community who would condone ms. fokina’s “baby yoga” practice. right now, the media seems hell-bent on presenting yoga as the most dangerous activity on earth (http://yogathletica.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/yoga-the-most-dangerous-activity-on-earth/). this is just another example of  inappropriate sensationalism feeding on the yoga craze in order to stir controversy and boost viewership.

it would have been great if abc interviewed some real baby yoga specialists to explain how amazing and therapeutic baby yoga really is when done correctly…

okay…now let me get back to my baby-toss game…i really want to win this one!