Kitchen Safety – It’s Important!

Kitchen.

Making food can be super fun and awesome, and to keep it that way, it’s important to practice a few safety tips when you’re in the kitchen. Having adult backup, knowing how to sterilize and clean your work area, and understanding the proper way to handle different types of foods are all things you need to know and do.

Grown-up Back-up

Before you get started, make sure you get permission to start your cooking project. Let your parent know if your recipe uses knives, a stove or any other appliance used to heat food, or other types of kitchen appliances (blenders, food processors, and other stuff like that), you need to ask an adult for help, especially when you’re just learning.

Having an adult helping you while you cook will help keep you safe, and make sure you have the ability to act properly and quickly if something goes wrong. Besides, it’s always great to have a second set of hands in the kitchen…even the professionals have assistants, and sometimes even whole teams!

Wear an apron to keep your clothes clean and avoid staining. Make sure your shirt, especially, isn’t too large and baggy, as loose fabric can get caught on moving appliance parts, catch on fire, and create other hazards.

Big Bad Bacteria

When you’re working with raw food (even vegetables), you have to keep your kitchen, your cooking gear, and yourself — CLEAN. When you keep your materials clean, it keeps bacteria from contaminating your food.

BACTERIA is what makes you sick (germs), CONTAMINATION is what happens when dirty stuff (like bacteria) gets into clean stuff (like your food).  Food doesn’t have to LOOK dirty to BE dirty, so it’s important to:

Practice the following SUPER IMPORTANT safety tips all the time

  1. Before you start, wash your hands with soap and clean water
  2. Wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, poultry, egg, and fish products. < Really important
  3. Wash your cutting board, knives, and surfaces, especially in between switching from meat to raw veggies and fruits
  4. Make sure all your fruits and veggies are thoroughly washed (you can fill up the sink with water and a couple Tablespoons of white vinegar to make a good veggie wash)
  5. Clean as you go
  6. Don’t eat raw eggs, or foods that have uncooked eggs in them (like dough)
  7. Wash your hands before you eat
  8. Have an adult help you properly store leftovers

Sharp and Hot – PAY ATTENTION!

Always ask your grown-up if you can use appliances with cutters, blades, or heating elements. If they say it’s ok to use a knife, point the blade away from your body and keep your fingers away from the blade when you’re cutting. And watch it when you’re not using it, too. Be careful where you wave that thing!

Pay Attention! Give 100% of your attention to what you’re doing at all times.

Don’t get burned

  • Use potholders or oven mitts when handling hot pots, pans, or baking trays. Don’t use your shirt, or a towel, or the cat.
  • Turn pot and pan handles toward the back of the stove so you won’t flip them over by accident.
  • Never try to relight the pilot light on a gas stove. Only an adult should do this. An adult should also light the burners for you and make sure to pay close attention when you’re near the stove so you don’t catch yourself, clothes, or utensils on fire.
  • Use only microwave-safe dishes in the microwave. Some dishes can break, crack, explode, or get too hot in the microwave. If you’re not sure if something is safe for use in the microwave, ask your grown-up.
  • NEVER put anything metal in the microwave. Even a little foil on a label can cause sparks and fire.

If you practice good safety and cleanliness, and pay attention to what you’re doing, cooking can be a grand adventure. If you have any questions about what’s safe and what’s not, ask your grown-up! Chances are, they know a thing or two about kitchen safety.

Spring is in the Air (a free YogaKids class plan!)

butterflies and flowers

Spring is just around the corner! Yay! Enjoy this delightful spring-themed YogaKids class plan with the children in your life!

MATERIALS

  • name tags
  • crayons
  • sharpies
  • coloring pages
  • ping pong balls
  • straws

 

CONNECTING CIRCLE

Spring is March 20 to June 21. When it’s spring in the northern hemisphere, it’s fall in the southern hemisphere (Australia). Share fun facts about spring as you do the following poses together:

  • Reach for the SunWe are closer to the sun in the spring.

Begin in Open Mountain pose. Breathe in and reach up high with an outstretched hand. Grab a piece of sunshine and pull the power into your solar plexus, your inner sun. Exhale with a “HAH” breath. Repeat with the other arm. Alternately reach with the left and right arms. As you practice, increase the force of your breath.

  • Moo and Meow  – Many animals have babies in the spring.

Begin in All Fours Pose. Line up your wrists under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and arch your spine to the sky. Loosen your neck and drop your head down. Breathe out long as you meow. Now lift your chest forward and look up with big cow eyes. Dip your belly down and tilt your sitting bones up. Your back will sink down like a cow’s. Make cow lips and moo deeply from the back of your throat. Go back and forth, meowing and mooing.

  • Polar BearAnimals such as bears who hibernate start to wake up and become active.

Begin in Heel-Sitting pose. Open your knees wide apart, toes touching behind you. Bend forward at the hips and slide your chest along the floor. Place your chin on the floor and put your paws over your nose to keep yourself warm. Breathe in and out.

  • Finger-Dancing/Salutations to MeDuring April, you will see more rain showers.

Sit on your heels or cross-legged. Begin at the top of your head and gently stimulate your hair and skin by lightly dancing your fingers all the way down your body. Allow the self-touch to feel good, as it wakes you up, stimulates your skin and lymph system and makes you feel alive. Do this technique along with Salutations to Me. Each time you touch a part of your body say a silent affirmation or kind statement to that place: toes; skull, hair, face, ears, neck, throat, chest, breasts, belly, bottom, legs, arms, feet, etc.

  • Circle of Friendship FlowersMay the flowers will start to bloom.

Kneel in a circle, holding hands. As you inhale, reach your arms up, lift your buttocks off your heels, and stretch back arching your back and neck. As you exhale, continue to hold hands and fold down into Child’s Pose. Repeat a few times imagining all the different flowers that you could be.

 

POSES AS PATHWAYS

Do a Planting Seeds Yoga Flow together!

  • Mountain Stretch your arms up overhead and say “hello” to the sun and pluck some “seeds.”
  • Ragdoll Dig a little hole and plant the seeds.
  • Standing Half Forward BendLift halfway and pretend to pour water on the planted seeds.
  • Ragdoll Pat down the dirt around the planted seeds a bit more.
  • MountainClasp hands overhead, making a “sun” with raised arms.
  • Repeat the previous poses one time.
  • Low SquatIt’s time to see if anything has sprouted! Squat down low. I see something!
  • Mountain
  • TreePlace one leg on the shin and grow your branches up. What kind of tree are you?
  • Repeat the transition from “squat” to “tree” on the other side.

Celebrate springtime activities with the following poses:

  • Kite

Begin in Mountain pose. Come onto your tippy toes and stretch your arms up and out to the side like tree arms. Lean to one side and stretch a leg out to the other side. Change sides. Play with your balance as you find your way and move with the wind. Feel your body flying like a kite.

  • Wind Chimes

Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. Swing your arms back and forth in harmony with your breath. Be sure to keep your feet planted. You are a wind chime moving with the wind. Now separate your feet into a wide stance. Bend forward and take your right hand to your left leg. Lift your left arm to the sky and look up. Now lower your left arm and take it to the right leg. Twist your torso towards the sky and look up. Go back and forth several times.

  • Roller Coaster – Amusement parks are open in the spring, and many towns host festivals!

Sit down in a line with your legs spread wide. Clasp your hands around the person in front of you. As the roller coaster climbs up the hill, lean back. Then lean forward as you speed downhill. Be brave and raise your hands as you lean from side to side

  • Butterfly with Antenae

Begin in L-Sitting pose. Bring the bottoms of your feet together, with your heels close to your body and your knees out to each side. Stretch your neck and the top of your head toward the sky and make your spine longer. Place your hands at the sides of your head and stick up your pointer fingers to make antennae. Pull your arms back like they’re your wings. Breathe in and out as you flap your wings forward and back, up and down.

  • Bridge – Some people take trips in the spring to visit family!

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Place your feet hip-width apart as close to the sit bones as possible. Press your feet into the ground and lift your hips to the sky. Place your hands however it’s comfortable to support your lower back and pelvis. Lift your chest and arch your spine.

 

WE ALL WIN

Play Ping Pong Ball Breathing. Give each child a straw. Blow a ping-pong ball around the circle by blowing.

 

VISUAL VIGNETTES

Print or draw flowers with 4-8 petals and have the students color in the flowers with a light color crayon, then write something they love about themselves on each petal.

 

QUIET QUESTS

The Cherry Blossoms – “My friend Rengetsu was returning from a pilgrimage when she stopped in a town to rest for the night. Although she appeared tired and hungry, each door she knocked on refused her lodging. As the sun began to set behind the hills, she hiked up to a cherry orchard on the hillside. There she made a little bed of leaves under the trees and fell asleep. But something stirred her in the middle of the night. A beautiful scent fell over her. Pulling herself up from the sleep, she saw the loveliest of sights, the black sky behind dozens of trees with pink cherry blossoms, all blooming radiant and shimmering in the moonlight. Rengetsu took in the beautiful experience. Then she turned toward the town, gave a little bow, and said, ‘Oh people of the village, thank you so much for turning me away tonight, for if you did receive me, and give me a place to rest in your home, then I would never have been able to witness such beauty!’” Imagine you are lying in the cherry blossom.

 

CLOSING CIRCLE

  • Fountain of Oms

Everyone chants OM at their own pace and rhythm. Start together, but everyone’s duration can be different. Let the OMs keep coming at various intervals; some short, some long. Feel the Fountain of OMs wash through and around you. The sound and vibration is very powerful. Keep your eyes closed and keep chanting. Keep the OMs flowing and allow the sound to cease with its own natural conclusion.

  • Namaste

Put your hands together at your heart and bow to each other.

 


Learn to write and teach your own YogaKids lesson plans!

Yoga Tools for Temper Tantrums

child screaming

When my son was 3, he was diagnosed with a dairy allergy. Not long after the diagnosis he had a meltdown over a Sponge Bob ice cream cone at a local zoo. Despite my efforts to entice him into a non-dairy treat, he insisted on the ice cream, and as the discussion continued, we both became more and more agitated. Eventually the incident ended in a full out screaming fit with my son lying down on his back and kicking his feet, while making balls out of his little fists. As a small crowd of people watched, I tried desperately to calm him down, eventually getting so angry myself that I picked him up and dragged him back to the car literally kicking and screaming.

Most parents of toddlers can relate to this story. Shortly after the zoo incident, I started yoga teacher training with YogaKids. In the ,training I learned many techniques to calm the body and the mind. I soon began to incorporate what I learned with my own children and it led to a harmonious journey into peaceful parenting the YogaKids way.

 

Take Steps to Prevent Tantrums

Setting clear boundaries, offering rewards for good behavior, and staying away from triggers will help to prevent tantrums. My son’s ice cream meltdown could have been prevented if I had steered clear of the ice cream stand in the first place. It would have also helped if, as a family, we avoided ice cream when together. Finding special non-dairy treats that my son liked and having those at-the-ready would also be a helpful tool to promote peace and happiness.

 

Stay Calm

During a temper tantrum, it is very easy to get angry and frustrated yourself, but this will only fuel the situation. If you stop and observe how you feel during the tantrum, you may find an inner calm present behind the stress that eases the tension in the situation. If you find calm, that energy will help to calm your child. Your child will come to understand that they can trust you to be peaceful and calm no matter what, and will find this comforting. Observing your breath is a great tool to focus on while the tantrum is happening. Once your child has calmed down, speak softly with kindness and empathy. Let your child know you understand why they were frustrated, and practice peaceful breathing or a mindfulness technique after the tantrum is over. This will build your child’s “peace muscle,” your child’s ability to tap into that part of them that is full of ease and joy.

 

Tantrums Can Help Your Children Get Their Feelings Out

As long as your child is safe, tantrums can help them to release frustrations. Small children often have a hard time articulating how they feel, and they may not have developed coping skills to handle life’s everyday stressors.  It is very healthy to release tension instead of keeping negative thoughts in. Crying, jumping up and down, or lying down and kicking can help to release tension. If we don’t express frustrations often, they lay dormant and can block positive energy and affect our ability to enjoy life.

 

YogaKids Tools for Temper Tantrums

YogaKids offers many tools to help kids release excess energy, move their bodies in healthy ways, and calm down and find peace.

Volcano – This pose offers a healthy outlet for tension.

Begin in Mountain pose; bring the fingertips together at the chest. Jump the feet apart. Place your palms together at the center of your body. Breathe in. Watch your hands as you raise them over head. Breathe out as you explode your arms outward. Lower them to your sides and return your hands to heart. Erupt and release again and again. Make big, exploding volcano noises.

Rocket Ship is another healthy way to blow off steam in a fun way.

Begin from a Squat, inhale and shoot your hands and body upward to the sky and make blast off noises. Come back down and do it a few more times.         

Peace Breath – Once stored energy has been released, Peace Breath is a great way to calm the nervous system.

Close your eyes. Relax your face muscles. Let your skin drape over your bones like a soft blanket. Breathe in. Breathe out and whisper the word “peace.” Repeat 3 to 6 times

Swim Ducky Swim is a technique that can be used at the end of a yoga practice, at bedtime or anytime you have 5-10 minutes to calm down and help to increase focus.

Lie down on your back. Place a rubber ducky on your belly. Breathe gently in (your belly button rises) and out (your belly button sinks down.) As your belly rises and falls like the waves, your ducky surfs the waves as you inhale (breathe in) and floats as you exhale (breathe out). Give your ducky a slow and gentle ride with your breathing. You can used any small stuffed animal or favorite toy for this exercise.


Learn ALL the YogaKids poses and their benefits as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

Lemon Toes

Lemon Toes pose

Progressive relaxation is a wonderful technique for releasing stress and anxiety in the body — by tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups. In YogaKids, we use the pose called Lemon Toes to help students experience progressive relaxation. It’s a great final pose right before Savasana!

Instructions: Lie on your back, or relax in a chair with your head on your desk. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Imagine that you are sipping sour lemonade through your toes, and sending it to every part of your body. Hold your breath as you curl and pucker your toes. Breathe out as you relax your toes. Work your way up the body, tensing and then relaxing your legs, then your belly, chest, shoulders, and arms; sip, pucker, breathe, and relax.

Make a sourpuss face. Wrinkle your nose. Squeeze your eyes shut. Grit your teeth and pucker your lips. Hold this facial squeeze for a few seconds, and then release. Finally, tighten your entire body all at once, and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Completely release. Relax.

Now you are ready for Savasana. It may be difficult, but try to clear your mind of all thoughts. Stay in Savasana for at least one minute — and build up to 10 minutes. Stay awake, but completely relaxed and peaceful.


Learn ALL the YogaKids poses and their benefits as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

 

Facing Fear and Anxiety with Challenge Poses

child in crow pose

At a small amusement park along the Jersey shore, waiting with my kids for a turn on the ride, my eyes and ears were drawn to one particular child. High excitement could be felt from the kids in line anticipating glimpses of the ocean, onlookers, and sand sailing by as the ride whirled around. Kids already on the ride were happily screaming and yelling, at times waving to family and friends, their eyes wide with seeing a blur of blue ocean and sky.

Except for one child. One little girl, crying uncontrollably as the ride increased its speed and circular motion. Unprepared for the motion and sensations, her whole being shouted “stop the ride, I want to get off!”

Like the response expressed by the little girl on the ride, trying new things can leave one feeling under prepared, overwhelmed, and over faced. Teens especially, already grappling with physical and emotional changes, may find trying new experiences daunting while trying to navigate their ever-evolving inner and outer worlds. Awkwardness and shyness can prevent them from trying anything different or novel. They don’t want to appear silly, inept, or clumsy in front of their peers!

Trying new asanas can produce anxiety in a student who feels it is beyond their ability. It gets even worse if they feel they are the only one in class who cannot do the pose! This is a great learning opportunity! An idea to address these concerns is to incorporate “Challenge Poses”.

First, provide and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment. Suggest that awareness of the breath is a great aid for the students to gauge their response. Then have the students pick a pose (example: Camel, Crow, or any pose your students find challenging and out of their comfort zone). The students can choose individual poses or all work on the same one as a group.

Example: Dromedary Delight (aka Camel pose)

Instructions: Kneel on the floor with your legs and knees hip-width apart. Curl your toes, push your thighs forward, and bring your hands to your lower back. Lift your chest. Breathe evenly in and out as you extend your rib cage and broaden your chest. Continue to lift your chest with each breath as you bring your hands to your heels. Increase the duration and repetitions of the pose as your spine and chest become more flexible. Rest in Child’s Pose after each back-bend.

You can take the pose “apart” by doing it in stages:

  • Beginner  (just touching backs of legs)
  • Intermediate (feet flexed, touch heels)
  • Advanced (feet flat, touch heels)

Have the students decide how far to go and how long to stay in the pose (defining edges). Explore adding props (the hands rest on two blocks next to the heels rather than heel touch). This modification makes the pose more accessible.

Here are a few more challenging YogaKids poses. Think about how they can be broken down into stages.

Wheel: Lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, with your heels as close to your sitting bones as possible. Raise your arms up over your head and bend your elbows. Place your palms flat on the floor beside your ears with the fingertips pointing toward your shoulders. Pull your elbows toward each other. Press down into your hands and feet, as you straighten your arms and legs. Your chest and thighs lift toward the sky. Imagine a wheel underneath you, supporting the spine in this convex shape.

Headstand: Lace your fingers together and place your forearms on the floor. Set the crown of your head on the floor, placing the back of your head in your interlaced hands. Inhale and lift your knees off the floor, slowly walking your feet closer to your elbows. Exhale and lift your feet off the floor, pulling your knees to your chest. With a firm upper body and abdomen, extend your legs skyward. To come out of Headstand pose, draw your knees into your chest and bring your toes to the floor. Walk your feet away from your elbows and gently drop your knees to the floor. Rest in Child’s Pose.

Crow: Begin in Mountain pose. Bend your knees and squat down. Place your arms to the inside of your bent legs and press your hands with outstretched fingers into the floor. Lean slightly forward. Bend your elbows to make a shelf for your knees. Lean forward and balance with your feet off the floor. With patience and practice, you can increase the time you can stay balanced.

Whenever working on challenging poses, be sure to give time for exploration. Allow for feedback of the experience. Ask questions; what was felt prior to trying this pose? Was it a positive attitude; I will do this! Or a negative attitude; this is impossible! No way! Discuss feelings around the process. Did they feel self-criticism? Were there feelings of accomplishment, happiness, frustration, or discouragement? New experiences can test our edges, whirling us way out of our comfort zone. But it also opens us up to new possibilities and a great opportunity for growth.


Learn ALL the YogaKids poses and their benefits as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

Helping Kids Choose Happiness

children in pedal laughing pose

I recently saw an interview on TV of a new mom with her baby. The reporter asked her what she wanted for her child.  “I just want her to be happy,” replied the mom, an answer that probably most of us would give. As new parents we give our baby their basic needs to satisfy their happiness. As toddlers, we find that instant gratification in the form of a toy or treat works to bring happiness.

There comes a time when a child can learn that happiness comes from within. Our feelings are never wrong; we just need to learn how to understand and cope with our emotions. As parents, teachers, and child advocates we can help kids choose happiness over unhappiness.

We can foster happiness by displaying positive emotions like empathy and gratitude. Surround the child with people who lift her up rather than bring her down. We can also reflect on our own attitude towards happiness. In yoga, we practice Santosha, or contentment. Would a bigger house or new vehicle truly make us happy?  If we often complain about material possessions, then the child will associate that with attaining happiness.

It is also valuable for a child to understand that being sad is okay too. The loss of a pet or a friend moving away will make us sad, and sometimes only time can help.

I feel so blessed to have YogaKids in my home and community to help nurture happiness within. When I teach a class, my intention is always to have the student leave feeling happier than they did prior to class. When I notice that a child in my YogaKids may be grumpy, here are some poses I incorporate:

 Volcano: This pose safely releases emotions. Fill your volcano with something you love!

Begin in Mountain pose. Bring your fingertips together at the chest. Jump your feet apart. Place your palms together at the center of your body in Namaste Position. Breathe in. Watch your hands as you raise them over your head. Breathe out as you explode your arms outward. Lower them to your sides and return your hands to Namaste. Erupt and release again and again. Make big, exploding volcano noises. Jump your feet back together when you’ve finished erupting.

 Untie the Knots: This pose loosens up your whole body to relax, shake, and feel great!

While standing, untie your neck by rolling your head around. Untie your shoulders by moving your shoulders up, down and all around. Untie all your knotted muscles and joints from head to toe. Massage and stroke them after you’ve untied them. Untie them until you feel nice and loose.

Tarzan’s Thymus Tap: This is a great pick-me-up for tired or cranky kids. The taps promote blood flow to the brain.

Start in any of the base poses, seated or standing. Make two fists and pound your chest. Pound and tap under your arms, too. Howl, yowl and yodel. Feel the power and vibration of your sounds.

Peace Breath: Send peace to all the parts of your body, especially your heart.

Close your eyes. Relax your face muscles. Let your skin drape over your bones like a soft blanket. Breathe in. Breathe out and whisper the word “peace.” Repeat. As you say the word, feel the peace inside you. Send peace to the animals, trees and plants. Send peace to your family and friends. Send peace to countries in the world that are at war. Send peace to all the people you love.

Pedal Laughing: Laughter can be the best medicine! If you fake laugh long enough, it will eventually turn into a real laugh!

Lie on your back. Bend your arms and legs like you’re riding a bicycle in the air. Pedal forward and laugh. Pedal backward and laugh. It might be hard to really laugh at first, but once you get started, you won’t be able to stop. Have fun and be silly with this one. Form a pedal laughing chorus. High-tone laughters are sopranos and lower ones are bass. Medium-low laughters are toners and medium-high are altos. Make music with your laughter!

In YogaKids classes we often incorporate books and music.  I love a book called The Feel Good Book by Todd Parr. It’s perfect for ages 4-7, but I find older kids enjoy it too. Of course, the popular song “Happy” by Pharrell is fun and sends a positive message too!

After Savasana, the time of relaxation and renewal at the end of yoga class, I love to incorporate quotes. A favorite of mine is from Dr. Seuss in his book Oh the Places You’ll Go!

“You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose
Choose happiness!


Learn ALL the YogaKids poses and their benefits as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

Open Your Heart

Child in Bubble Fish pose

Valentine’s Day is February 14 and why not celebrate with some heart-opening poses with your YogaKids? Here’s a few great ones…

Bubble Fish: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Bring the bottoms of your feet together and open your knees outward. Press your feet together and flop your legs up and down. Slide your hands, palms down, underneath your backside. Squeeze your shoulders together. Arch your back as your chest lifts off the floor. Place the top of your head on the floor. Feel your gills open and close as you breathe. Make fish lips and blow bubbles. Imagine you have gills instead of lungs.

Wheel: Lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, with your heels as close to your sitting bones as possible. Raise your arms up over your head and bend your elbows. Place your palms flat on the floor beside your ears with the fingertips pointing toward your shoulders. Pull your elbows toward each other. Press down into your hands and feet, as you straighten your arms and legs. Your chest and thighs lift toward the sky. Imagine a wheel underneath you, supporting the spine in this convex shape.

Dromedary Delight: Kneel on the floor with your legs and knees hip-width apart. Curl your toes, push your thighs forward, and bring your hands to your lower back. Lift your chest. Breathe evenly in and out as you extend your rib cage and broaden your chest. Continue to lift your chest with each breath as you bring your hands to your heels. Increase the duration and repetitions of the pose as your spine and chest become more flexible. Rest in Child’s Pose after each backbend.

Rocking Horse: Lie on your belly. Bend your knees and reach back to take hold of your ankles one at a time. Lift and broaden your chest as you squeeze your shoulder blades and inner thighs together. Look forward and bring your feet towards the sky. Notice how the entire back of our body contacts, so that the front of your body can open and lift like a proud horse. Take strong breaths in and out, as you begin to rock. Increase your rocking time with regular practice. Rest in Child’s Pose when you get tired.


Learn ALL the YogaKids poses as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

 

We All Win: Rock, Tree, Bridge!

Child in child's pose, children in tree pose and child in bridge pose

This is a great cooperative game to play with friends! Get into a wide circle and have everyone get into alternating poses of Child’s Pose (rock), Tree, and Bridge. Then, one person gets up and goes around the circle stepping over the rock, walking around the tree ,and through or under the bridge.

Move slowly and mindfully so as not to disturb the rocks, trees and bridges. Work together to get through the obstacle course without a tree falling over or a bridge breaking! Everyone gets a turn.

Child’s Pose Instructions: Begin in Heel-Sitting pose. Open your knees a little, so your belly relaxes between your thighs. Bend at the hips and fold forward, letting your shoulders drop down away from your ears and spine. Your arms lie back along the sides of your legs with open palms facing upward. Place your forehead on the floor. Turn your head to one side and take a few breaths. Then, turn to the other and do the same.

Tree Pose Instructions: Begin in Mountain Pose. Lift one foot and press your foot against the inside of your other leg. You can use your hand to place your foot anywhere between your ankle and inner thigh. Avoid the knee joint. As your balance gets stronger, you’ll be able to raise your foot higher up your leg. Bring your hands to your chest, palms together in Namaste position. Then raise your arms up above your head. Stretch them out wide, like the branches of a tree. Separate your fingers. Balance and breathe. Now repeat on the other side.

Bridge Pose Instructions: Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Place your feet hip-width apart as close to the sit bones as possible. Press your feet into the ground and lift your hips to the sky. Place your hands however it’s comfortable to support your lower back and pelvis. Lift your chest and arch your spine.


Create and teach your own Great Ideas as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

Courage in Heartbreak: Healing After a Pregnancy Loss

Jua Sandra Nnafie - van Dijk

“You don’t realize how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have.”

Adapted from a quote by Bob Marley

If you are reading this, that means that I found the courage to share the story of my pregnancy loss.

If you are reading this, that means that we are one step closer to sharing and opening up to stories about pregnancy loss.

Thank you for reading.

I am sure that my journey in the YogaKids program has given me the strength to get back up, after I took a big fall into the dark in early November 2018. As part of an assignment in the YK program, reading Judith Hanson Lasater’s book Living your Yoga was what helped me start reliving my own yoga.

When I was almost eleven weeks into my fourth pregnancy (or sixth if you’d count my two earlier miscarriages), my gynecologist gave me the heartbreaking news that I would most likely lose this baby within the next two or three weeks. BOOM! Just like that, I fell from cloud nine all the way into the deepest, darkest black hole I had ever known.

I have a husband who loves me dearly and I have three amazing children. This fourth baby, however, had been a forever wish inside my heart. That wish would now go up in smoke. The three weeks that followed were so confusing. Still pregnant, but not really. My mind and heart were swinging from hope to despair to deep sadness. For the first time in my life as a yogi and a mom, even my own yoga practice couldn’t keep my thoughts calm and collected. I did have over 15 years of yoga experience, but this sudden shift from happiness to sadness was too much to handle.

I felt lost and alone. Honestly, I felt like giving up on trying to feel happy again. I had to keep going for my family though. I had to find a positive vibe somewhere. But where?

Only three people knew about my pregnancy. My husband, my mom, and a friend in school — whom I had told at only 7 weeks pregnant, driven by a gust of pregnancy enthusiasm when I heard she was selling baby stuff. I had been keeping my nausea, fatigue and mood swings hidden from the rest of the world for 11 weeks. I had already been fantasizing about how I was going to break the happy news to my friends and family. Now, I was all of a sudden keeping something else a secret. I was secretly carrying a life that was slowly being “absorbed back into my body.” That’s what my doctor said. It hurt, but I wasn’t showing my pain to anyone. Nobody knew I was pregnant, right? So, no one could know I was having a miscarriage during those long, agonizing three weeks.

It wasn’t until a few weeks into my grieving period that it hit me: we do not tell people we are pregnant, so we do not have to share the sad news if we have a miscarriage. (I think you may have noticed that I put my other two pregnancies that ended in a miscarriage in parentheses. I do count them as pregnancies, but would others do the same?) Why I wonder? Why can we only share happy pregnancy news?

Is it wrong or weird to feel sad about losing someone I never even met?

Well, on November 15 2019, when I lost my pregnancy, all my belief in my own yoga and meditation practice went down the drain. Not a single method could calm me down. I cried so much, so loud and non-stop. I was sadder than I had ever been and nothing could help me to take away this feeling. Not a single moment did I think that my breathing could calm me down. I have lost loved ones before, but never in my life had I experienced this much hurt and pain before. For the first time I really felt heartache, there where my heart lives. It hurts. So much.

There I was, lying in bed, listening to my family living, and trying to hold onto my heart, almost trying to squeeze the hurt out of my heart. What was I to do? How could I ever get back up and running, full of smiles and energy, like I always am?

For no particular reason, I remembered the next YogaKids assignment I needed to complete. It involved reading Judith Hanson’s book. Just like you started reading this post, I started reading her book. And….it turned out to be a step in the right (or should I say ‘light’) direction.

I took the liberty of using the assignment as part of my grieving process. It was as if each chapter in the book touched upon another part of the pain I was feeling. Each chapter seemed to be offering me another way of dealing with all the emotions racing through my heart and all the thoughts twirling in my mind. After each page, I felt that I was reconnecting with myself a little bit more. Baby steps.

Tears ran down my face while reading the book, and writing up my assignment, but I allowed myself to feel the hurt, the anger, the disappointment, the shame. I tell you, I feel a lump in my throat even as I am writing this post. The pain is still there. I have found ways to deal with it, most of the times. I have found a way to start living my yoga again.

Thank you, YogaKids, for offering me a way out of total darkness.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read my story.

I feel stronger every time I find myself able to share this experience with others. Even though I do not know you, it feels we are now sharing a heavy load, which makes it a little bit easier to carry.

I would like to finish by suggesting that if you went through a miscarriage yourself, please find people who will listen to your story and who will support you while you are grieving your loss.

Sorry for your loss. Sharing the pain really does help.

Namaste.

With a smile,

Jua

 

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Winston Churchill


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Presidents’ Day Cookies

president's day cookies

What better way to honor some of our founding fathers than with a sweet treat in the likenesses of George Washington and Honest Abe?

You will need:

  • Sugar cookies (fully cooled)
  • Chocolate bar that’s divided into sections (if you need to cut the chocolate, dip the blade of a sharp knife in hot water for a few seconds so the chocolate doesn’t break)
  • Black gel icing
  • Regular chocolate or vanilla icing (homemade royal icing would work the best, but we just grabbed a tub of cake frosting off the shelf for this project)
  • For small president cookies, use mini-marshmallows (dehydrated, for hot cocoa — you can sometimes find these in shaker canisters in the baking aisle), mini-chocolate chips
  • For large president cookies, use mini-marshmallows, full-sized chocolate chips

Use the icing to attach the hats, chocolate chips, and marshmallows to the cookies, then draw on little faces with the black icing. You may need to let the icing set for about half an hour so Abe’s candy bar hat will stay on as you serve the cookies.

About Presidents’ Day

This year, Presidents Day falls on Monday, February 20, 2017. February 22 was George Washington’s birthday, and Presidents Day began as a day to honor our very first president. For what presidential actions were Abraham Lincoln and George Washington most well-known? Who is your favorite president, and why? Can you name the Presidents in order? Here is a list of the US Presidents, from the founding of this nation to the current day.

  1. George Washington, 1789-1797
  2. John Adams, 1797-1801
  3. Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809
  4. James Madison, 1809-1817
  5. James Monroe, 1817-1825
  6. John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829
  7. Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837
  8. Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841
  9. William Henry Harrison, 1841
  10. John Tyler, 1841-1845
  11. James Knox Polk, 1845-1849
  12. Zachary Taylor, 1849-1850
  13. Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853
  14. Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857
  15. James Buchanan, 1857-1861
  16. Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865
  17. Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869
  18. Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1877
  19. Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 1877-1881
  20. James Abram Garfield, 1881
  21. Chester Alan Arthur, 1881-1885
  22. Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889
  23. Benjamin Harrison, 1889-1893
  24. Grover Cleveland, 1893-1897
  25. William McKinley, 1897-1901
  26. Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909
  27. William Howard Taft, 1909-1913
  28. Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921
  29. Warren Gamaliel Harding, 1921-1923
  30. Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929
  31. Herbert Clark Hoover, 1929-1933
  32. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-1945
  33. Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953
  34. Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953-1961
  35. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961-1963
  36. Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-1969
  37. Richard Milhous Nixon, 1969-1974
  38. Gerald Rudolph Ford, 1974-1977
  39. James Earl Carter, Jr., 1977-1981
  40. Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1981-1989
  41. George Herbert Walker Bush, 1989-1993
  42. William Jefferson Clinton, 1993-2001
  43. George Walker Bush, 2001-2009
  44. Barack Hussein Obama, 2009-2016
  45. Donald John Trump, 2016 (current)

Happy Presidents’ Day!


Create and teach your own Great Ideas as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

YogaKids Poses to the Rescue

girl meditating

Is your child feeling angry? We have a pose for that  Is your child feeling anxious, we have poses, breathing exercises and techniques for that! Are you kids fighting with each other, we have a pose for that! YogaKids has tools for all of life’s challenges, and when used regularly, yoga can help you and your child find joy, good health and peace!

Confidence

If your child does poorly on a test, misses the goal in a soccer game or is upset about getting braces, they may lack confidence which can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness or lack. Reach for the Sun is a YogaKids pose that would be a great way to start the day, or can be used after a disappointment or challenging situation. This pose brings energy to the solar plexus which is our area of personal power. It also includes a slight back bend which will improve mood, and help to build joy, optimism and confidence.

Reach for the Sun – Begin in Open Mountain pose. Breathe in and reach up. grab a piece of sunshine and pull the power into your solar plexus-your inner sun. Exhale with a “HAH” breath. Repeat with the other arm. Repeat ten times.

 

Bullying

When peers are critical, judgmental or just plain mean, kids can be left feeling helpless and sad. Sun salutations help to bring positive energy into the heart, are energizing and uplifting. Practice before or after school for a jolt of joy.

Sun Salutations – From Mountain, raise arms overhead and stretch upward. Fold forward into Ragdoll. Step back with right leg into a lunge. Step back with left leg to Lizard. Slowly come down to the floor with your knees, chest and chin. Bring your hips down to the floor, and lift up into S is for Snake. Curl your toes under and stretch into Down Dog. Step forward with right leg into a lunge. Step forward with left leg into Ragdoll. Stretch arms outward and return to standing. Raise arms overhead and stretch upward. Repeat cycle, leading with the opposite leg. Repeat one to ten times.

 

Anger

Kids often have a hard time dealing with life’s challenges and have not developed the skills to cope with disappointments, disagreements or not getting what they want. If anger is kept inside, it can lead to much suffering, and affect long-term health. Volcano is a pose designed to discharge feelings of anger in a healthy way.

Volcano – From Mountain pose; bring the fingertips together at the heart. Jump the feet apart.  Watch your hands as you raise them over head. Breathe out as you explode your arms outward. Lower them to your sides and return your hands to heart.  Erupt and release again and again. Make big, exploding volcano noises. Jump your feet back together when you’re finished erupting. Repeat ten times.

 

Fear

Staying in the present moment is often a great antidote to fear. Fear is often a product of worrying about some future perceived threat. Peace Breath is a way for kids to stop and notice how they feel in the present moment.  They focus on their breath and notice the softness of their own lips as the say “peace” or feel the gentle rise and fall of their belly.

Peace Breath – Close eyes and relax the face muscles. Let your skin drape over your bones like a soft blanket. Breathe in. Breathe out and whisper the word “peace.”  As you say the word, feel the peace inside you. Send peace to the animals, trees and plants. Send peace to your family and friends. Send peace to countries in the world that are at war. Send peace to all the people you love. Repeat 3-10 times.

 

Grief

Grieving is an important part of accepting that a loved one, pet or friend has died. When feelings of grief become overwhelming or don’t dissipate over time, yoga can help kids feel happy, uplifted and joyous. Direction breath is a children’s version of a pose called the Breath of Joy, it brings awareness and light to the heart.

Direction Breath – Stand in mountain, inhale and stretch arms forward, out to the side and overhead.  Exhale and bend forward into Rag Doll.  Repeat about 10 times.

 

Anxiety

Worrying about school, friends, sports or life’s challenges can cause anxiety. When feelings of anxiety distract kids from being able to enjoy life, Eyes Around the Clock is a technique that can help kids learn to focus attention on the present moment instead of living in possibility of a future problem.

Eyes Around the Clock – Imagine a clock hanging in front of your eyes.  Move your eyes from 12 to 6 and back to again.  Look right to left from 3 to 9 and back.  Look diagonally from 1 to 7 and back, then 11 to 5.  Now start at twelve o’clock and look at each number around the face of the clock. Then start again at twelve o’clock and move in the opposite direction. Try to keep your head still and move only your eyes.

 

Sadness

Opening the chest, and taking in a full inhale has been found to improve mood, confidence and our outlook on life. Dromedary Delight is a back-bend that can help kids feel open to the magic of life. Warm up the spine before doing this pose, and encourage kids to pause during the day for a gentle version for quick pick-me-ups. This can be done seated at a desk, or standing with hands gently clasped behind the back. Pause in the pose for several breaths.

Dromedary Delight – Kneel on the floor with your legs and knees hip width apart. Press the tops of your feet into the floor, push your thighs forward, bring your hands to your lower back, fingers pointing upward, and lift your chest. Breathe evenly in and out as you extend your rib cage and broaden your chest. Continue to lift your chest with each breath as you curl your toes forward and bring your hands to your heels to imitate a camel’s hump. Delight in the dromedary for ten seconds. Rest in child’s pose after each back-bend. Repeat. Increase the duration and repetitions of the pose as your spine and chest become more flexible.


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