Bringing Laughing Language Home

What do you do if you come home and find your kids playing soccer/football in the house? Well, I came home and my girls were playing football in the house with a (don’t laugh) bag of onions. The skins were EVERYWHERE! My kids are not toddlers, of which I could almost expect that sort of game – they’re teens! They just thought it would be fun and knew the repercussions would not be too great. They were right.

The experience became a YogaKids moment — a Laughing Language opportunity. After the mess was cleaned up, we chatted about different types of kicking games. We talked about the success of the teams and their form of practice and how football has evolved to what it is today. We discussed the designing of the ball, how heavy the balls are, and why they have panels on them. We even discussed what forces are at work when the ball is propelling through the air or rolling on the pitch. Later, we looked up some follow up information online so we could learn more about the game.

I enjoy bringing the Laughing Language to my home.  I’m a goofball, and it allows my kids to let their guard down and be kids or “de-mature.” It keeps things the atmosphere light an open — while also letting them know that the lines of communication are open for serious discussions too. There are some pretty heavy duty subjects that come up in young people’s lives and I wouldn’t trade those difficult talks for anything. I also wouldn’t trade the funny or the strangest things we talk about like odd laws, ridiculous music lyrics and the worst jokes ever.

Laughing Language also makes it easy to compare and contrast between other households and cultures to ensure your kids are well rounded and rooted with the morals and values you hope to ingrain.My kids and I discuss different education systems, forms of government, and talk about different rules that people find important.As parents and as advocates of YogaKids principles, it is invaluable to remember that Laughing Language can be used both lightly and seriously and that it’s easy to incorporate  into your everyday life. It is not simply having fun with language. It’s bringing diversity into your class or home using language or interpretation as the delivery vehicle.


The Opposite of Mindfulness

Kids Sitting on Bench

When the Sandy Hook tragedy happened, I was more than a little distraught. At the time, my kids were 4 and 7 years old. My friend — having seen all my Facebook posts on the matter — called to ask if I really thought my kids were going to be in a school shooting. She wasn’t being cold-hearted, just realistic. I assured her that I knew the odds were slim.

Unfortunately, the odds seem a lot less astronomical now than they did then. Still pretty unlikely, but definitely in the realm of possibility. By the way, it was just the realm of possibility that had me so distraught in the first place. I mean… how could this happen? And how does it continue to happen?

I’d venture to say that events like Sandy Hook don’t just HAPPEN. Violence needs a breeding ground, one void of mindfulness. One actually nourished by what seems to be the opposite of mindfulness. Can that be a thing we talk about? In addition to gun control, individual rights, mental illness, violent media etc… can we talk about the opposite of mindfulness as a possible root cause?

What would that be called? This opposite? A quick search on antonyms brought up: apathy, carelessness, disregard, idleness, ignorance, indifference, negligence, thoughtlessness… to name a few. While we don’t have a single word, the opposite of mindfulness is most certainly a lot of unpleasantness. And I imagine — when mixed in with a few other ingredients (fear and shame) — the end results are aggression and violence.

So what can we do? Nothing is going to eradicate violence completely — but can we do something? Can we nourish the soil with something better? Empower children with the tools to live happy and healthy lives? After all, kids (and adults) that feel good about themselves — ones that are mindful of themselves, others and the larger world around them — are not even going to bully others…  much less pull a gun on them. Why? Because you can’t be centered and angry at the same time.


Learn more about the YogaKids program here.


Acceptance and Letting Go

Woman Meditating on Beach

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”

– Eckhart Tolle

Life with bipolar disorder combined with ADHD is an interesting adventure—but teaching kids yoga has made it a much more bearable one. I realized that I have a knack for teaching at my very first career as a computer programmer. Instead of enjoying writing and debugging code like most programmers, my favorite work time activities were writing and correcting documentation, and helping the new people understand our system. (Ask any programmer what they think about writing documentation. You rarely will hear enthusiasm at the prospect!)

Following that career, I took a 5-year vacation from working life to have my first child and to be introduced to my new life companion: bipolar disorder. After a month of getting to know it at a psychiatrist hospital in New York City, I decided I decided I didn’t much like my new companion. (They say it takes about ten years for bipolar patients to accept their diagnoses – and this rule held true for me.)

The next ten years were a huge emotional roller coaster. I was on and off my medications, and I was on and off believing that I must live my life with bipolar disorder. During those ten years, I was accumulating all sorts of fears and phobias. Many of them found their niche in my back, causing me to develop debilitating backaches.

The next four years seemed like an unending sequence of acceptance and letting goes as I began regularly practicing hot Bikram yoga. I accepted the bipolar disorder, and miraculously the back pain began to subside. During this time, I also let go of my former jobs. My past environments felt toxic – but the desire to teach was still strong within me. That’s when I discovered YogaKids.

The YogaKids program carried all he answers to my doubts. As I was discovering the principles of YogaKids during my six months of training, I became more and more thrilled.  It incorporated many of the things that I believed in when I was helping children back in my academic jobs. I learned so many new techniques and almost a whole new way of teaching.

I feel the process of accepting and letting go is still just starting for me. For 37 years, I lived a life ruled by disorders. Now I’m on the path towards a new way of life ruled by me. And I attribute this major shift in my life to yoga…. both as a lifelong yoga student and as a newly certified YogaKids instructor.


The Art of Sequencing

Children Meditating in Park

My 5K cross-country outing began with the intention to mostly run, not walk the distance. But it didn’t start that way. (I’m slow — and my walk is even slower.)The first 2 miles found me walking up the hills followed by a sluggish jog down the other side. Slow ,slow progress. But with one more mile to go. my jog DOWN hill became a jog UP the next hill. And the next.  And continued this way until I actually “sprinted” to the finish. What was that all about I wondered? What just happened here?

Although my route started out feeling like a lot of stops and starts, I had a continuous pace at the finish. Cycling through those walk and jog segments must have prepared me for the last third of the course where I felt stronger and more competent. Intervals alternating between high and low activity allowed me to manage my energy and achieve a good outcome.

Most of my YogaKids students have the desire to accomplish ALL of the poses quickly and easily. But constant energy will likely falter. Sequencing a class with cycles of active and recovery segments can help kids finish strong and successful by the end of the session. Between challenging efforts for both mind and body, I insert recovery moments in the lesson plan.

Begin with gentle stretching of mental as well as physical “muscles” to engage the students. Peace Breath softens the face and calms the mind providing a quiet moment. Butterfly with Antenna involves “wing” movement and stimulates the pathway between the brain and body, offering a slightly more active segment.

Poses that use more movement and focus can alternate with resting asanas. Balancing in Eagle enlists concentration of the brain with attention to crossing arm and leg positions. Follow this with Child’s Pose, allowing time to breathe and relax. Active Spouting Dolphins cresting multiple waves may need to “float” on their bellies and rest a bit afterwards. Allowing time for that lower energy, quieter moment provides each student the time to rest, refresh, and re-center.

Yoga, like life, has hills AND valleys — acknowledging both can be a powerful tool for creating YogaKids classes.

Learn more about sequencing in our one-of-a-kind Certification Program.

Teen Yogis Become Team Leaders

Children in Roller Coaster Pose

Encouraging teens to “teach” your class can be a lot of fun! Handing over portions of the class to these willing yogis can build confidence and expand their knowledge of a yoga practice. Permitting greater control to these older students creates more give and take in the learning process. And selectively portioning out lesson segments allows you to manage the process without losing focus and direction. Engaging teens in this way can lead to some surprising results!

Leading a familiar vinyasa flow (sun salutations) can be a good start. Each teen can have a chance to add a special modification to the series while leading the class (from the teacher’s mat of course!) through the asanas. Or the teens can be challenged to create an original vinyasa flow. This can be a singular, pairing up, or small group activity. Poses can be assigned or chosen and then sequenced by the teens. The result is taught to the rest of the class.

Another activity involves an introduction to the YogaKids Elements for older teens. Use simple words to guide the students as to what the Element is and ideas on how to use it with their pose. Give them time to work on their own. Whenever possible let them collaborate on ideas. For example, have the students create a repeating pattern (Math Medley) using Tree pose by varying their arm and leg positions. Another idea would be to have the teens decide on poses that would be used to tell a story (RCAWY). Have them share a story about a day they walked through snowy woods and what they saw, heard, and felt. Enhance the story by using all of the senses (even the sixth sense)!

Another favorite student-led activity in my classes is Quiet Quests/Savasana. Talking the class through progressive muscle relaxation (tensing and then relaxing areas of the body) allows the teen leader to gain a sense of timing, allowing for these responses without rushing through the sequence. There is also the opportunity to observe tension and relaxation in fellow classmates. And who doesn’t like ringing the chimes to “awaken” everyone at the end?

Another component of final relaxation can be a guided visualization. A teen leader tells a story during the silent reflective time. This is great practice using a voice that helps the listeners “paint a picture” in their minds. At closing circle, ask your group what music they would like to hear next time they meet. Write down the requests that would be acceptable for your lesson. When meeting again, ask the teens to determine where and how the music would be incorporated into the lesson plan.

These suggestions can help yoga to resonate with your teens. Allowing them ownership in the process can be very empowering!