Gratitude and the Highest Happiness

Silver Outline of Person in Prayer

Santosha or contentment is part of yoga’s eightfold path. These eight steps help to guide us to a meaningful and purposeful life. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving during the month of November, this is the perfect time of year to pause and observe Santosha and explore how practicing contentment and gratitude can help make life extremely rich.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra verse 2.42 reads, “From contentment, the highest happiness is attained.”  Contentment blossoms, when desire is removed. Yoga teaches us that the moment is complete; we don’t need to look for something else. Contentment is all about being grateful for what we have instead of desiring something else, or something more.

When we spend our lives seeking, always looking for the better experience (bigger house, brighter diamond or newer car model), we are placing requirements on our own happiness that we can never meet. Once we get those possessions that we seek, we usually barely enjoy them before we are looking for that next bigger and better thing.

Yoga Teacher TKV Desikachar’s definition of Santosha is “to accept what happens.” In other words, when it is cold, let it be cold. We experienced one of the coldest and wettest winters on record her in the Chicago area last year, and the talk all winter was on how awful it was. Many shifted into survival mode and stopped enjoying life.

Looking back, there was so much joy to be had. I connected with many of my southern states friends when they called or emailed their sympathy. I was motivated to plan a great spring break vacation, and had several days to spend with my kids when school was cancelled. Our house was warm and cozy all winter, our old cars still started every day, and many mornings we woke to see our neighborhood blanketed in some of the most beautiful snow we had ever seen.  

Each morning when I trekked out to my studio to teach yoga, I found my students were more grateful than ever to have a beautiful space to come to, a respite from the cold, and a community to share a practice with. The weather couldn’t ruin the winter, only our attitudes towards the weather could do that.

Gratitude asks us to fall in love with our life as it is, and will keep us centered in joy and abundance. This Thanksgiving, take time to not only count your blessings, but to look for the joy in the perfect moments that will unfold right before you.


Live your life with gratitude as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

Halloween Yoga Poses!

cats on halloween night

 

We LOVE Halloween! We love getting dressed up. We love eating candy. And we love adding a little bit of holiday fun to our YogaKids poses! Enjoy a few of our favorite Halloween Yoga Poses!

Scarecrow/Ghost Coat Swing

Imagine you are a scarecrow hanging in a field. Your spine is the post that holds you up. Place your hands on your shoulders with your elbows out to the side. With the rhythm of your breath, twist your upper body (head, face, neck, shoulders, and arms) around the post of your spine. Breathe as you move back and forth, side to side. Gradually build up to 50 rounds, then 100. Return to center. Let your arms hang down. Twist your spine back and forth and just let your arms hang loose, as if they were empty coat sleeves. Allow them to fly like a ghost with the momentum of your breath and movement.

Black Cat (also known as Cat Pose)

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.

Dracula Pose

Roll yourself up in your yoga mat! Relax in one of our favorite Halloween yoga poses!

Broom Pose (also known as Birthday Candle)

Sit cross-legged. Take hold of your toes from the outer side of your knees. Breathe in and out. Roll backwards. Then, let go of your toes while bending your elbows. Use your hands to support and lift your back. Straighten your legs and lift them past your head until your bent toes touch the floor. Squeeze your shoulders and elbows together. Lift the legs straight up to the ceiling. Rest your weight on your shoulders and triceps. Life your chest. Your feet are the candle flames. Have someone light the candles, or blow with enough power to ignite the flame yourself. Wiggle your toes to make the flames flicker. Tuck your chin to keep your neck relaxed.

360 Degree Owl

Roll up your yoga mat and turn it into a tree branch. Bend your knees and perch on your branch. Find your balance and sit as upright as you can. Tuck your arms behind you. Gently flap your wings. Turn your head from side to side, opening your eyes wide. Make a gentle “who” sound.

Witch’s Hat Pose (also known as Dog Pose)

Begin in All Fours pose. Bend your toes forward. Spread your fingers wide. Press your doggy paws and heels downward as you lift your hips and tail to the sky. Lengthen your spine. Stretch your arms and legs as long as possible. Let your head hang down.

 

 

What Halloween Yoga Poses can you invent? 


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Losing Daylight: Help Children Stay Positive During this Season of Change

losing daylight - child playing in fall leaves

It’s finally fall! While the season brings with it exciting things like pumpkin patches, cider, candy apples and Halloween, it also means it’s beginning to get darker outside earlier. Losing daylight has the potential to impact kids and their mental well-being.

The term that accompanies the sadness which corresponds to the change in seasons and loss of sunlight, is Seasonal Affective Disorder. Known as S.A.D. for short, it affects the young more often than the elderly. S.A.D. is identifiable through negative thoughts, an increased amount of time sleeping and isolation once grey skies appear, and can lead to more serious depression.

It’s important for us to help children fight through S.A.D. and find ways to stay positive and motivated throughout fall and winter. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ways to ensure kids are as happy as possible, no matter the weather outside.

Make Home Cozy

As the weather becomes colder, people spend more time indoors at home. Embracing the seasonal change and making home a comfy haven is one easy way to promote happiness in kids. Having your home be a relaxing place to spend time can have a tremendous impact on a child’s mood. Have plenty of soft blankets around to cuddle under while watching T.V. or having a movie night. With constant adult supervision, light a few candles to create a cozy atmosphere. Check any negativity at the door and ensure you and the kids have a calm space to bask in and forget the weather.

Keep Active

When the weather is dark and grey, it’s easy for kids to feel less motivated. Don’t let that impact the time they spend being active. Activity is not only healthy for their bodies, it’s also beneficial for mental health. Exercise, in any form, helps release endorphins and feel good brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine to help regulate moods and fight sadness and depression. One great exercise to start is yoga. Combining the physical poses and stretches with the mental focus and meditation, makes yoga a great exercise for children’s happiness.

Aid in Restful Sleep

Sleep is always important, but it becomes even more so when battling sadness and depression. We want to make sure kids are getting the right kind of sleep. This means a good and restful nine to eleven hours per night, depending on age. To help kids accomplish this, make sure they’re comfortable in their beds. This all starts with a good base; your kids mattress should foster a good night’s sleep and benefit the way they like to sleep. Then look to their surroundings. Instead of allowing them to sleep with the T.V. on for noise and light, buy a white noise machine and night light. Listen to what their preferences are and work with them to create it. Beware of oversleeping though, as this is a sign of S.A.D.

Get Creative

When they’re feeling sad, give kids an outlet to express themselves. Children are inherently creative, so giving them the tools to showcase this helps to grow that skill while also teaching them to channel their feelings. Have a dedicated craft box filled with supplies for your child to turn to when they’re feeling sad and need something to uplift them. This also offers the perfect opportunity for you to spend time together working on a project. Having your child explain their craft to you can also give you insight into their feelings so you’re able to understand why they’re sad and think of more ways to help.

Set an Example

You are a child’s biggest role model. In their eyes, you have all the answers and the ability to make anything better. Set an example as the seasons change and show your kids how to be happy. Embrace the fun activities that come along with fall and winter, instead of focusing on the increased grey skies and darkness. Spend more time with them to make them feel less lonely and talk to understand how they’re feeling. Being a positive presence in their lives during this time of year can truly make a difference in the way they view the outside.


Learn more ways to help kids as a Certified YogaKids Teacher!

Halloween Lesson Plan: Celebrate the Spooky Season!

Halloween Lesson Plan

We love Halloween! And kids do too! Don’t let the holiday slip by without celebrating the season! And if you need a Halloween-themed lesson plan  for your kids yoga class to celebrate the spooky season? Look no further! Enjoy a witches’ brew of festive fun in this Halloween Lesson Plan. (And download a coloring page to go with your lesson!)

AGE GROUPS

2-6, 7-11

MATERIALS

  • Music player with fun Halloween music prepared
  • Halloween coloring pages or mini-pumpkins
  • Crayons or supplies for decorating mini-pumpkins
  • Witches hat

SHORT DESCRIPTION/TOPIC

To get the kids excited about Halloween!

MUSICAL MUSINGS

Play fun Halloween music in the background.

CONNECTING CIRCLE

Recite the YogaKids Pledge (or any classroom rules). Introduce the class theme (“Halloween Night in your town”).
Sit in Pretzel and do torso circles right and then left while you sing the Welcome song (sung to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down):

Welcome to YogaKids
YogaKids… YogaKids
Welcom to YogaKids
We’re so glad you’re here!

Continue with Magic Witch’s Hat Breath – inhale hands in prayer over head, exhale hands to heart. (several rounds)

POSES AS PATHWAYS

Sun Salutation is a way of thanking the sun for coming out every day, for providing us with warmth and light and vitamins D. It gives us healthy bones, allowing us to grow. It allows our food to grow… giving our pumpkins and apples color and vitamins. This dance makes us strong, flexible, alert, and coordinated… and it’s good for the heart!

Sun Salutation – Do any variation of sun salutations you like.

The sun is setting on Halloween night, and we are ready for a night of fun. The moon is bright, and shining down on our Halloween night.

Sunrise Sunset – Sit on your heels. Open and close your wings several times. Then open your wings and interlace your fingers above your head. Stretch your arms up as you lift your buttocks off your heels with an inhalation. Exhale and drop your hips to the right as the arms drop left like the setting sun. Inhale and arch your arms overhead like the rising sun. Then, drop your arms to the right as the hips drop left. Repeat.

We are a witch’s broomstick! Take in a deep breath, and then float around the room on the broom stick blowing out all our air. When all our air is out, our broom turns into a mouse.

Witch’s Broomstick (Mountain) – Stand with your feet together or hip-width apart, whichever is most comfortable. Arms are at your sides, fingers stretching towards the floor. Press your feet into the ground.

Repeat Witch’s Broom to Mouse a few times.

Child’s Pose (Mouse) – 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.

It is time to make our special Halloween Witch’s Brew. Stand in a wide stance Mountain and begin stirring the pot clockwise then counterclockwise. What will we put into our brew this Halloween? Let’s add some bugs!

Bug Pose or Happy Baby – Lie on your back. Bend your knees into your belly. Open your knees as you grip the outsides of your feet. Bring your needs toward your armpits. Gently rock from side to side.

Stir the pot! Next, let’s add 4 large green lizards…

Lizard – Lie on your belly. Place your hands under your shoulders. Spread your fingers out like lizard claws. Bend your lizard toes forward. Push up until your arms and legs are straight in Plank Pose. Draw your shoulders back and away from your ears. Walk like a lizard, slowly and carefully.

Can you say, “Large Lucky Lizards Land in our Witches Brew?” Stir the pot! Next, we can put in two twisted twigs from an Oak tree…

Tree Pose – 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. 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.

Stir the pot! Now, let’s reach down into our pockets and pluck out two eyeballs and throw them into the brew!

Ball Pose – Have the children roll back and forth on their mats.

Stir the pot! Next, let’s add in the skull of an eagle…

Eagle Pose – Begin in Mountain pose. Lift your right leg and wrap it over your left leg. If you can, hide your right foot and toes behind your left calf. Bring your bent arms up in front of you and place the right elbow on top of your left. Twist together your forearms bringing your palms together. You can also interlace your fingers. Bend your knees. Untangle yourself and change sides, bringing your left leg over your right leg and your left elbow on top of your right.

And a handful of feathers from a wise old owl…

360 Degree Owl – Roll up your yoga mat and turn it into a tree branch. Bend your knees and perch on your branch. Find your balance and sit as upright as you can. Tuck your arms behind you. Gently flap your wings. Turn your head from side to side, opening your eyes wide. Make a gentle “who” sound.

And stir the pot! Now, let’s add two wings of a magic butterfly…

Butterfly – 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.

Ask the children if they have anything they want to put in, going around the circle and putting in their ideas with or without doing yoga poses to go along with what they come up with.

And now our last two ingredients… two shells of a snapping turtle!

Turtle – Begin in L-Sitting pose. Open your legs wide. Flex your feet and lift your knees. Place your hands on the floor inside your legs. Spread your fingers wide. Slide your hands and arms under your knees, as far away from each other as possible. Bend forward at the hips and lengthen your chest along the floor. Lift your head and look from side to side. Say “hello” as you stretch your arms and legs as far out as you can. Now, tuck in your chin and retreat retreated into your shell. Pull all of your senses inward and rest. Stay in your shell as you breathe in and out. Repeat.

Turtles have been on the earth for more than 200 million years. Several species of turtles can live to be over 100 years old. The oldest documented turtle lived to be over 200.

Stay sitting with wide legs and stir making big circles in both directions. Then do a Magic Spell together — saying softly at first, then repeating getting louder and louder…. Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Laugh together like witches! HAHAHAHA! Now let’s be a witch’s hat!

Witch’s Hat Pose (Down Diggety Down Dog) – Begin in All Fours pose. Bend your toes forward. Spread your fingers wide. Press your doggy paws and heels downward as you lift your hips and tail to the sky. Lengthen your spine. Stretch your arms and legs as long as possible. Let your head hang down.

Now let’s be a dog howling at the moon!

Up Uppity Doggie Up – Drop your hips and lift your chest forward with an inhalation. Drop your shoulders away from your ears, broaden your chest and keep your arms strong. Keep your legs up from the floor if you can.

Howl at the moon. Go back and forth between Witch’s Hat to Up Dog several times.

Now that all our work is done, let’s take a rest in a pumpkin patch.

Have the kids lie down and take 13 breaths. Expand the belly like a pumpkin It is time for us to celebrate Halloween with some Trick or Treating. Repeat the mantra as the do the pose:

Trick or Treat (clapping feet on floor), Smell My Feet (hands and soles of feet clapping)

Row Row Row Your Boat – Begin in L-Sitting pose and place both hands, palms down, alongside your hips. Lengthen your arms and spine. Lean back and lift your legs up. Balance. Stretch your arms forward, palms up. Breathe in and out. Row your arms forward. Reverse, and row your arms backward.

If you have time, play the Yoga Freeze and Flow Game. When the music stops, take turns having each child wear the Witch’s hat and teach a yoga pose to the group.

Sunrise/Sunset – Same as before!

The sun is setting on our spooky Halloween night, time for us to sleep…

Twist and Blow – Lie on your back with your knees bent. Stretch your arms out to each side, in line with your shoulders, palms up. Drop your bent knees over to the right and up towards your armpit. Turn your head to the left as you breathe out. Breathe in and bring your knees back to the center and across your belly. Drop your legs to the left side, turn your head to the right, and breathe out. Do several continuous rounds. Then, relax for at least a minute with your knees on one side and head rotated in the opposite direction. Change sides and relax again. Then relax for at least a minute on each side.

SAVASANA

VISUAL VIGNETTE

Have the children color a Halloween coloring page, or decorate mini-pumpkins. You can download one here! coloring page.


Learn to write and teach your own Halloween lesson plans with YogaKids!

Rock Your Chakras Halloween Style!

black cat with pumpkin

Need a Halloween-themed class for your older students? This is a Halloween twist on a chakra lesson plan. Having knowledge about your chakras gives you a guide on how to interpret the experiences in your body. Listening to your body and directing your energy within in a conscience way so you feel safe, creative, empowered, loved, heard, connected and spiritual.

AGE GROUP

7-11

MATERIALS

  • One hollowed-out pumpkin
  • Cooked spaghetti
  • Gummy candy
  • Fangs
  • Cyclops eyes
  • Scarves
  • White 8.5 x 11 paper
  • Markers the colors of the chakras
  • Pencils
  • Wet wipes
  • Cotton balls
  • Clothespins
  • Cedar and lavender oil
  • Green marker
  • Music player and prepared music
  • Blocks

DISCUSSION POINTS

What are chakras? Why do we care about chakras? Where is each chakra located in the body? What are some things associated with each chakra (i.e.: color, sense, emotion, etc.)?

CONNECTING CIRCLE

Place a skeleton in the center of the circle.

Take a moment close your eyes and sit tall on your sit bones. Think about your spine. <Pause.> Look at the skeleton in the center of the circle. There are 33 bones in your spine and 5 sections. The cervical spine is your neck, thoracic is where the ribs attach to the spine, lumbar is lower back and sacral is where your spine attaches to your pelvis and then the tailbone region. When one of those bones becomes misaligned, we feel discomfort.

So, alignment of our spine is essential to our health. We have wheels of energy along our spine called chakras. Energy is what makes all things exist and move. Our body receives energy from the sun, food we eat and the air we breathe, and that energy is sent throughout the whole body. Our chakras are those places where that energy comes into the body and is then sent throughout the body. We want to keep these wheels of energy spinning and balanced so that you feel good, much like spinal alignment. Yoga poses can help keep our spines aligned and our chakras balanced.

Name Game – Go around the circle, say your name and an adjective that is scary that begins with the same letter as your name: Howling Heather. Say all together after each child says their name.

POSES AS PATHWAYS

Sunlight is absorbed through our skin, so we can produce Vitamin D, which in turn allows us to absorb calcium. Calcium strengthens our bones.

Sunrise/Sunset – Sit on your heels. Open and close your wings several times. Then open your wings and interlace your fingers above your head. Stretch your arms up as you lift your buttocks off your heels with an inhalation. Exhale and drop your hips to the right as the arms drop left like the setting sun. Inhale and arch your arms overhead like the rising sun. Then, drop your arms to the right as the hips drop left.

Pull your hands around your face to make it dark. Darkness is scary. Your sight is limited, and you might hear things you wouldn’t hear during the day because the world is quiet. Our first chakra’s sense is smell. Pass around a cotton ball held in a clothespin with cedar oil on it, The essence of our first chakra is meeting our basic needs; feeling stable and secure in our environment. 

Polar Bear – 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.

We are going to be the moon rising. Make wide arms circles to draw the face of the full moon. Moonlight is sun reflected off the surface of the moon. 

Volcano – 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.

What comes out when the moon is full? WEREWOLVES!

Play Thriller by Michael Jackson. Howl at the moon.

Transformer Series (modified to become Werewolves) – A vinyasa is a flow of poses linked together through breath and movement. In YogaKids, we call vinyasa flows “transformers.” This example of a Transformer Series transitions through the following poses: Lunge, Lizard, S is for Snake, Down Diggety Doggy Down, and back into Lunge.

When our root chakra is balanced, we feel centered and grounded. “I am rooted to the Earth, I am Safe.” 

Mountain – Stand with your feet together or hip-width apart, whichever is most comfortable. Arms are at your sides, fingers stretching towards the floor. Press your feet into the ground. This downward action through the legs allows the torso, neck, and head to rise like a mountain above the clouds. Notice how tall and light you feel.

Put your hands on either side of your hips and you can feel the ilium bones that make up your pelvis, which is like a bowl. These bones connect to your spine at the sacrum which is a large triangular bone that helps support the weight of our upper body. This is also where our second or sacral chakra is housed which enhances your ability to feel. When it is in alignment your creative energy flows. Orange represents this chakra. Let’s become pumpkins.

Pelvic Bowling – The pelvis is like a bowl, holding the reproductive and abdominal organs. Tip your bowl forward and backward several times. Now realign and lengthen your spine as you return to center. Feel your legs strong and supportive. Feel your pelvic bowl sitting on the pedestal of the legs, supporting the upward mobility of your torso. Stand tall and walk without spilling anything out of your bowl.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself as an orange pumpkin. Make a scary mouth with fangs and everyone reveal their scary face at once by opening their eyes. Do the Darth Vader breath: Try to inhale/exhale through your nose even though your mouth is open. Use your tongue to stopper your teeth. Count to three on inhale, five on exhale. 

Squat & Breath – Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees and squat down. If possible, bring your heels to the ground and keep your feet parallel to one another. Bring your hands into the Namaste position, with your thumbs lifting the breastbone and your elbows opening your inner thighs. Drop your shoulders away from your ears and keep the torso upright. Breathe deeply and quietly as you balance. Continue to increase the duration of time you can squat and breathe.

Sing the following as you do the pose:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
the first one said, “oh my its getting late,”
the second one said, “there are witches in the air,”
the third one said, “but I don’t care,”
the fourth one said, “I’m ready for some fun,”
the fifth one said, “let’s run and run and run.”
Woo went the wind and out went the lights and
the 5 little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Rock ‘n Roll – Sit cross-legged. Take hold of your toes from the outer side of your knees. Breathe in and lift up your chest. Breathe out and tuck in your chin. Breathe in and out. Rock your back and roll backwards. Extend your crossed legs over your head. Roll forward, tuck in your legs, and sit up again. Do this a few times to loosen up your spine, back and legs. Re-cross your legs the other way, then roll a few more times.

A pumpkin is in the shape of our pelvis and where our guts are. If you are brave enough to reach inside without looking, there are some prizes. Pass around a carved-out pumpkin that has “guts” (cooked spaghetti) inside. Within the guts, put in gummy organ shaped candy and eyeballs. Share this folktale:

There is an Irish folktale of how Jack-o-lanterns came to be a Halloween tradition. A man named Stingy Jack invited the devil to have a drink with him. But Jack being stingy didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the coin, and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for another 10 years. Soon after, Jack died.

As the legend goes, God wouldn’t allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by Jack’s trickery but keeping his word not to claim is soul, wouldn’t let Jack into Hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since. The Irish refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern” which became simply Jack-o-Lantern. When the Irish brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, they adopted this fruit for their carving activities. 

Row your Boat – Begin in L-Sitting pose and place both hands, palms down, alongside your hips. Lengthen your arms and spine. Lean back and lift your legs up. Balance. Stretch your arms forward, palms up. Breathe in and out. Row your arms forward. Reverse, and row your arms backward. Try the pose while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Our navel chakra is our power center which fuels your will to act. Let’s hold hands in this pose as we work to recharge and reconnect with this energy center.

Feel the energy that flows in your body. See if you can connect to your neighbors’ energy like an electric current that flows from one to another. 

Electric Circle – This pose is done with at least three people. Sit cross-legged with your hands on your knees. The left-hand rests palm up, and the right-hand rests palm-down. Breathe deeply into your heart space at the center of your chest. Feel the breath move across your chest, flow down your arms and into the hands that you are holding. You might feel or hear tingling. Whenever you feel this electricity, gently squeeze the hands you are holding. That is the signal to let each other know that the circuit has been made and the current is flowing. With your lips closed and your tongue curled upward to touch the roof of your mouth, start humming or buzzing to imitate the sound of electricity. Get louder and louder, then break the circuit by letting go of each other’s hands. Sit quiet and listen to the silence.

Electricity has transformed us into Frankenstein! Play Monster Mash. Try to walk with arms and legs straight like Frankenstein. Try to cross one leg over the other as you step sideways. Go in both directions.

Ankle/Heel/Toe/Walking – Put on your favorite music or make your own. Lift your toes in the air and walk on your heels. Then, lift your heels and walk high on your tiptoes. Balance on the inside edges of your feet and walk around. Balance on the outside edges and walk around.

When your navel chakra is balanced you feel confident and courageous in your decisions.

Warrior Series with Affirmations – Begin in Mountain pose. Step one leg back while bending your front leg. Keep your hips facing frontward as you raise your arms straight above your head. Say, “I am bold!” From Bold Warrior, turn your back foot slightly outward and bring your arms down parallel to the floor. Keep your front knee bent directly over your ankle. Say, “I am brave.” From Brave Warrior, shift your weight onto your front leg. Pick up your back leg and stretch it behind you. Keep both legs as straight and strong as possible. Stretch your arms forward and say, “My own power I can hold!” Repeat on the other side.

Our spine isn’t straight, it is curved like an S so it can better support the weight of your upper body. Convex is the shape of our cervical and lumbar areas and concave is the shape of our thoracic region We are going to make those two shapes with our back: stretch our chest muscles by opening our arms wide and arching back: then stretch the back muscles by bringing our arms to the front and rounding back. A good way to remember it, concave has the word cave in it and when you cave in, you cave inward. 

Draw a heart with washable green marker on hands of child and dab some lavender oil in center. Our heart chakra fuels our ability to give and receive love.

When we take our heads below our hearts we bathe our brain in oxygenated blood. 

Did someone say BLOOD! (Put your fangs in for Dracula.) Make the shape of Dracula’s cape. When our heart chakra is open and balanced, you feel a deep sense of love, gratitude and connection to all beings, including yourself.

Standing Partner Stretch – With a partner, stand back-to-back in Mountain pose. Both partners take one “baby step” forward. Reach back and take hold of each other’s hands or wrists. Keep your feet rooted to the floor. Lean gently away from each other, as you stretch your chests and shoulders. Come back to center and release your hands.

Dracula is transforming into a bat to fly away. This pose strengthens your arms and core. 

Crow Pose – 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.

We are going to Hiss (tongue behind two front teeth) like a mad black cat (Moo pose) and Purr (as you breath air out of your mouth, flutter your tongue against the roof of your mouth) like we are happy. (Meow pose) 

Moo/Meow – 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.

Zig Zag Breathing – Lay your head down on your friend’s belly pillow. Have someone use your belly as a belly pillow too. Make body zigzags on the floor as everyone breathes from their bellies. Close your eyes and relax. Feel your belly rise and fall with the weight of your friend’s head.

Our throat chakra is the energy center for sound and communication. Everyone wants to be heard. We make sounds in the front and back of our mouths. 

Play with tongue twisters.

  • If two big black cats could blow bubbles, how big of bubbles would big black cats blow.
  • Ghostly ghouls gather gleefully to golf on ghostly green golf courses.

Put cyclops eyes on everyone’s forehead while lying down.

Play Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr. Musical Musings

Channel energy through our third eye chakra. This is our center for intuition and insight. Seeing and color represent this chakra. Give each child as a scarf and everyone will work together to keep the scarves in the air. It doesn’t matter whose scarf you rescue. Keep an eye out so you don’t run into someone!

Throw and Grab – Use two or more light objects like scarves. Toss them in the air laterally and try to catch them. Next toss them up laterally but reach across and catch them with your opposite hands. Notice when you add the words, ‘Throw. Throw. Grab. Grab,” it makes this mid-line movement and cross-lateral coordination easier.

These eye exercises will stimulate our Corpus Collosum, the connection between the two halves or hemispheres of our brain. 

Eyes Around the Clock – Use this technique anytime you need to soothe and rest your eyes. Take any seated position. Rub your hands together until they feel hot, then place the palms of your hands over your eyes. Let them soak up the heat. Keep your fingers close together so no light comes through. You can keep your eyes closed or open. Imagine a clock hanging in front of your eyes. Move your eyes to each position around the clock like this:

  1. Look up and down, from twelve o’clock to six o’clock and back to twelve o’clock;
  2. Look right to left from three o’clock to nine o’clock and back to three o’clock;
  3. Look diagonally from one o’clock to seven o’clock and back to one o’clock;
  4. Look from eleven o’clock to five o’clock and back to eleven o’clock.
  5. Now start at twelve o’clock and look at each number around the face of the clock.
  6. Then, start again at twelve o’clock and move in the opposite direction. Circle the cock clockwise three times, then reverse. Try to keep your head still and move only your eyes.

7th chakra is at your crown and it’s your connection to your thoughts and your understanding of the world around you and how you fit into it. 

Headstand (modified) – From all fours position, put top of head on mat. Put arms in an “L” shape position. Place one knee at a time on triceps. If able, straighten legs to ceiling.

Plough – Sit cross-legged. Take hold of your toes from the outer side of your knees. Breathe in and out. Roll backwards. Then, let go of your toes while bending your elbows. Use your hands to support and lift your back. Straighten your legs and lift them past your head until your bent toes touch the floor. Squeeze your shoulders and elbows together. Breathe in and out. To relax in this pose, bend your knees and rest them on the floor on either side of your head. Rest your hands at the back of your knees.

The sky is starting to get light and we are close to the sun peaking over the Eastern horizon. It’s time to return to our coffins to rest. Close your eyes and shut the lid. Imagine what the inside of a coffin must be like. There is no light; no sound; the interior is soft, the bedding you are resting on is comfortable; take a sniff of your lavender, the smell can be calming. Shutting out your senses can be calming on your nervous system. 

Corpse Pose – Lie on your back and relax.

Bring your awareness to the base of your spine, feel your tailbone and sacrum region on the mat. Feel the space between your lumbar region and the mat. Does it feel like you could drive a truck underneath your lower back or does it feel like only a bug could crawl under? <Pause> Feel your ribs expand into the mat as you inhale air into your lungs. <Pause> Press your shoulder blades into the mat and then relax. Let your cervical spine make a natural bridge between your collar bone and back of the skull. 

VISUAL VIGNETTES

Make Pop-up Cards. Fold 8.5×11” paper in half. Refold top half edge to folded edge. Draw half circle along second edge, make upper half of a scary face (no mouth). Draw a pair of short legs and feet on paper so that it looks like half face and legs are attached. Unfold paper and draw other half of circle to complete face and draw a smile. Draw rest of the body. Make sure your shoulders are the width of your legs. Draw arms at sides.

Write I AM…. in bold lettering above the head. Put a dot that represents each color of chakra alongside the body. Don’t put the dots above or below the two folded seams. Write words alongside corresponding color: Red: Safe, Orange: Creative, Yellow: Strong, Green: Loved, Blue: Expressive, Indigo: Connected, Violet: Divine.

CLOSING CIRCLE

We only have this one body to care for in our lifetime. Luckily, we have modern medicine to help us repair a broken bone, fix a tooth and make our eyesight better but the true way to stay healthy is by making healthy choices every day that keep you feeling at ease, peaceful and joyful.

Diamond Breath/Bridge of Diamonds – Begin in Heel-Sitting pose. Inhale as you lift your arms overhead. Form a diamond above your head with your pointer fingers and thumbs touching. Exhale as you lower your arms back down to your sides. Repeat. Then hold your diamond shape above your head. Close your eyes and envision a beautiful, sparkling diamond floating above your head. Feel it grow larger and more brilliant. Now open your thumbs and let the magical sparkly diamond dust flow into the top of your head, through the crown chakra and over your whole body. Feel the diamond light surrounding you. Now lift your torso off your heels. Join hands with the children next to you and feel the diamond light move through your group to create a bridge of diamonds. Imagine joining hands with children across the globe and forming a bridge of diamonds; a rainbow of beaming light that spans across the world. Together our love and light will shine in peace.

Share the following quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:

People are like stain-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.


Learn to write and teach your own Halloween lesson plans with YogaKids!

Scenes from a YogaKids Training!

 

A YogaKids training is a totally unique and immersive experience. Because we believe that children learn better by doing — we ALSO apply this same philosophy to our training of adults! You — just like your YogaKids students — learn by engaging in activities and connections to art, music, literacy, and much more. If you’d like a sneak peek at one of our trainings, here’s an exclusive photo gallery of scenes from our recent Level 3 Transformations Training event in Newbury, Massachusetts at Roots to Wings Yoga and Healing.

And, remember, if you want to experience a YogaKids training — start your Certification today!

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Scenes from a YogaKids Class!

Kids in Roller Coaster Pose

 

A YogaKids class is not just a kids yoga class. A YogaKids class is a totally immersive educational experience — that is super-fun for kids of all ages! We include art, music, games, science, math, literacy, and much more into every class. Here’s a peak inside a recent YogaKids class by YK Teacher Jua Nnafie. The theme is our Wonderful World.

If you’re planning a YogaKids class about the Earth — we hope it gives you some great ideas!

And if you WANT to learn to teach a YogaKids class like this — start your Certification today!

 

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International Day of Peace Class Plan

International Day of Peace Logo

The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is a global holiday celebrated annually on September 21. Established in 1981 by a United Nations resolution, Peace Day asks us to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. Here’s a wonderful class plan for celebrating this holiday with your YogaKids!

AGE GROUPS

7-11, 12+

MATERIALS

What does Peace Feel Like by Vladimir Radunsky, paper and markers or crayons, music

SHORT DESCRIPTION/TOPIC

Children will explore what peace means to them and practice yoga poses to help them integrate the concepts presented.

DISCUSSION POINTS

Introduce the topic. The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on September 21. Established in 1981 by a United Nations resolution, Peace Day asks us to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. What ideas to you have to help celebrate this day with your family and friends?

CONNECTING CIRCLE

Peace Breath – Close your eyes. Relax your face muscles. Breathe in. Breathe out and whisper the word “peace.” Do these 3 to 6 times. 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.

POSES AS PATHWAYS

What does peace feel like? Read the book and present the following:

Peace in many languages:

  • Pace – Italian
  • Paix – French
  • Paz – Spanish

What does peace smell like?

Flower Pose – Sit cross-legged, lean back and place your arms under your knees and balance.

Pizza – Sit with your legs wide apart. Roll out and stretch the pizza dough to the right by slowly sliding your hands down your legs from your right thigh to your right toes. Then repeat on the left side. Now spread some sauce on the slice by moving your hands from side to side on the floor in the space between your legs. Add your favorite toppings.

What does peace sound like? Play some beautiful music of your choice.

What does peace taste like?

Popcorn: Start in child’s pose. Stay still and feel the warmth coming up from the popcorn maker beneath you. Now if you are ready – jump high into the air and POP. POP. POP. Repeat and pop!

What does peace feel like?

Sun Salutation – Start standing in Mountain pose, 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 (plank). 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 (cobra). Curl your toes under and stretch into Down Dog. Step forward with right leg into a lunge. Step forward with left leg into Ragdoll (forward fold) . Stretch arms outward and return to standing. Raise arms overhead and stretch upward. Repeat cycle, leading with the opposite leg.

Grugging – gGoup or individual hugs

Imagine what you could with peace.

Ladder to the Clouds Stand tall. Reach up and begin to climb a very, very, very tall, imaginary ladder. Climb all the way to the clouds and beyond. Now slowly lower to the ground as you climb back down to a crouch and rest in Child’s Pose.

PARTNER POSES

Standing Partner Stretch – Stand back to back in Mountain pose. Both partners take one “baby step” forward. Reach back and take hold of each other’s hands or wrists. Keep your feet rooted to the floor. Lean gently away from each other until you both feel a nice stretch opening your chest s and shoulders.

Sit and Twist – Sit cross-legged in front of your partner with your four knees touching. Put your right arm behind your back, reach out with your left hand and grab your partner’s right hand. Breathe in and sit up tall. Breathe out, turn away from your partner, twist your spine, and look over your right shoulder. Switch sides and repeat.

GROUP POSE

Tree – Stand in a tight circle, each member lifts the right foot, bend the right knee, and press the foot against the inside of the left leg. Reach out and hold hands.

VISUAL VIGNETTES

Peace Drawing

Have the children draw their version of peace to celebrate the International Day of Peace.

QUIET QUESTS

Peace MeditationLie down and close your eyes. Notice your belly gently rise and fall. As you exhale, feel more and more relaxed. Imagine your exhale melting all your tension. (pause) Notice how you feel, imagine you are filled with peace. (pause) Now send peace to the animals. (pause) To the trees. (pause) Send peace to your family. (pause) Send peace to your friends. (pause) Notice how you feel. Now completely rest. (pause for 2-5 minutes) Now wiggle your fingers and toes. (pause) Stretch your arms overhead. (pause) Slowly roll onto one side. (pause) Gently come up to sitting.

CLOSING CIRCLE

Fountain of Oms– Everyone chants OM at their own pace and rhythm. We start together, but everyone’s duration is different. Just 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.


Learn to write and teach your own YogaKids lesson plans!

Yoga & Me Come Be a Tree – A YogaKids Book Review

Yoga & Me Come Be a Tree book

Yoga & Me Come Be a Tree by Certified YogaKids Teacher and Occupational Therapist Tere Bowen-Irish is a lovely book that showcases various yoga poses in a very special light. Each pose is illustrated by two children performing a pose — one of whom is in a wheelchair. With this approach, the author does a wonderful job of showing how specific yoga poses can be modified for differently-abled children. And more broadly, how yoga is accessible to children of ALL abilities.

There are 2 pages dedicated to each pose. The only text is the name of the pose (including the Sanskrit name), and a short, simple poem about each pose. (For example, for Mountain Pose: “I am a mountain, strong and tall, When I look down, I see it all. I am made from rock, trees and granite. I am the strongest on the planet.” The book also includes a lovely introduction by Ms. Bowen-Irish that details how the book (and yoga, generally) can be used by parents, teachers, therapists, and other child-focused professionals.

Contact praxiscoachtere@comcast.net to order your copy!


Discover more about literacy and yoga in the YK Certification Program!

 

 

 

 

Wet Poses!

Swan
 

In traditional yoga, poses are categorized by the position of the spine. In the YogaKids program, poses are categorized by subject. This helps with planning engaging themed YogaKids classes! There are 20 categories of YogaKids poses — and one of our favorites is WET poses — a category for celebrating water and water-dwelling animals! Here’s a just a few…

Alligator: Lie down on your belly. Stretch your arms in front of you, one palm on top of the other. Open and close your arms like a jaw. Open and close your real jaw as you do this, too. Keep your legs together and lifted like an alligator’s tail. Gently bring your tail up and down.

Row Your Boat: Begin in L-Sitting pose and place both hands, palms down, alongside your hips. Lengthen your arms and spine. Lean back and lift your legs up. Balance. Stretch your arms forward, palms up. Breathe in and out. Row your arms forward. Reverse, and row your arms backward. Try the pose while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Spouting Dolphin: Begin in All Fours pose. Lower your elbows to the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips. Grasp your elbows with the opposite fingers to keep proper spacing. Move your lower arms forward, interlacing your fingers, and make a triangle. Breathe in and out, letting your spine lengthen and your tailbone lift up and back. Work your legs as you press your heels towards the floor. Breathe in and out. Move your body forward so your chin touches down in front of your fingers. Then breathe out and lift out of the water.

Swan: Begin in All Fours pose. Bend your lower legs, pointing your toes to the sky. Glide your body forward. Lift your chest and lengthen your graceful neck. Breathe in and out.

Waves: Sit on the ground and bend your knees, placing your feet on the floor hip-distance apart. Move your knees and legs back and forth to the left and right, as they ebb and flow like waves. Use this as a transition pose between the wet poses. It is a fun and accessible hip opener.

There are many more Wet Poses in the YogaKids Program — and you should always feel free to make up your own!  (Or encourage your YogaKids to get creative!)


Learn all the YogaKids poses in our Certification Program!