Taking a child’s pose break during an Asana Alphabet basic teacher training.
It’s nice to use the holidays as inspiration for reflection When you get involved with everyday, possibly seemingly mundane activities, it can seem like your not accomplishing anything, yet when given the bigger picture, the results may be enough to fuel your soul. On the level of asana (yoga poses), it may be that you feel a little progress but then you may recall that now you can touch your toes in uttanasana and you don’t even remember when you made that transition.
For those of you who do not keep up with Asana Alphabet (www.AsanaAlphabet.com) on a regular basis, this is an opportunity to get to know us better and perhaps be inspired to get involved. Here’s our year in review:
–Our founder traveled to Cambodia where she taught students in the Cambodia Living Arts program (http://www.marioninstitute.org/cambodian–living–arts
). What’s so wonderful about teaching yoga and movement is that you don’t always need to know someone else’s language in order to teach as the body shape and the resulting benefits are universal. We highly recommend getting to know this group if you travel to Siem Reap or Phenom Phen. Rumor has it they may tour the U.S. sometime soon and we certainly hope so.
–Our fabulous intern -turned marketing consultant -turned kids yoga teacher was a wonderful find this year. She not only volunteers her kids yoga classes at one of our favorite Lower East Side schools early in the morning before school stars, she also introduced us to WIC (more at http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/nutrition/wic/
) where we attended their annual benefit and gave a free yoga class for their staff. If you’ve never heard of the WIC before, it’s worth checking them out.
–We gave our first trainings at Jaya Yoga in Brooklyn (thanks Kenzie), Kula Heart Yoga in Nazareth, PA (thanks Rachael and Silver) and at Synergy Yoga in Miami (thanks Victoria)!
–We were also selected to give a workshop at the NJEA conference in Atlantic City (Thanks Sue!). Due to Hurricane Sandy, this conference was cancelled but we will cross our fingers to be a part of next year’s conference.
–Congratulations is in order for our Brooklyn based teacher Sarah. Sarah is one of our best baby and toddler yoga teachers. Sad for us but happy for her that she has been appointed the Executive Director of the Earth Dance Festival (www.earthdance.org) so she will be moving to MA I’m sure we will miss her so much that we will have to go on retreat and visit her.
–After several workshops at Third Street Yoga in Edmond and practicum this year, we certified our first kids yoga teacher in Oklahoma. Diana teaches yoga to kids in public parks in Norman (when the weather is nice) and teaches in local area schools. She’s also bilingual and comes with prior experience working in a Montessori school so this is one highly qualified and wonderful kids yoga teacher!
Asana Alphabet Certified Teacher Diana teaches yoga for kids in Oklahoma
–Two students received full work-study scholarships for their Asana Alphabet Teacher Trainings.
–We donated 50 yoga mats to a new kids yoga program in the Bronx.
–The rest of our profits went to helping victims of Hurricane Sandy. Though that’s not directly related to teaching yoga to children, we reached deeper into the meaning of Ek Ong Kar, everything is one thing, everything is connected, and decided that donations were needed most there for our side of the U.S.
And now…..what are the New Year’s Resolutions going to be? Feel free to share your yoga and community volunteering resolutions with us.
If your yoga studio or yoga in the school program is Christmas friendly, then the following ideas are great to use with The Night before Christmas. We like to read the poem while kids rest in savasana, then we do a stop and start version with the following pose/word match ups. Enjoy! You can learn more about successfully integrating stories with yoga in an upcoming teacher training! As always, we would still call the pose by the correct name…instead of saying “mouse pose”, you can say “child’s pose is like a small mouse”. This will help to keep the yoga tied to its original roots.
House (triangle pose)
Mouse (child’s pose)
Chimney (o-shaped mouth breath…like blowing out smoke)
St Nicholas (warrior one giant step)
Wondering eyes (yoga eye rotations)
8 tiny reindeer (stick pose with antler like mudras at head)
A little old driver (sway from side to side)
Eagles (eagle pose)
House top (triangle)
Flew (warrior 3)
Belly was round (Hathaway camel pose)
Not a word (quiet mudra)
Aside his nose (alternate nostril breath)
Good night (savasana)
After last Friday’s tragedy in CT, we were grateful to receive the following guidelines on addressing violence with students from a wonderful lower school principal. We hope these are helpful to teachers (both yoga and classroom teachers) and that we continue to spread the word of peace through our daily actions. -Namaste, Asana Alphabet
Helpful Guidelines to Keep in Mind
1. Any conversation with a student must be developmentally appropriate.
Young children are not able to process the complexities of violence in the same way that adolescents and young adults are prepared to discuss the issue. Young children often gauge how threatening an event is by adult reactions (i.e., if caregivers act scared and frightened, young children will view the event as scary and frightening). They may be confused by what they hear and may have basic fear responses such as bad dreams, resistance to separate from their parent, and/or crying and clinginess. They respond well to basic assurances by adults and simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
Older children and teenagers may have more information about an event as they are commonly able to access information independent of adults via the internet and television. For these youth, it is important to discuss issues openly emphasizing the efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools. It is also important to emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
2. Communicate to parents about the conversations that you have had with students.
It is important to keep parents informed about how you are responding to student questions and any type of support that has been made available for students struggling with the crisis. Additionally, if teachers working with older students choose to have classroom discussions about the event linked to their instructional activities, parents should be made aware of these activities and any suggestions for following up at home should be offered.
3. Guidelines for talking with children about violence.
Encourage parents to talk with their children and validate their feelings. They should let children’s questions guide what and how much information to provide, be open to opportunities to talk when children are ready, be honest about their own feelings related to violence, and emphasize the positive things that child/family/school can do to stay safe. They should be aware of signs that their child might be in distress, e.g., changes in behavior, anxiety, sleep problems, acting out, problems at school or with academic work. Remind parents and teachers to be conscious of media exposure and what they say about the event. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
4. Reinforce student strengths and focus on normal routines and activities.
It is important to know that one of the best ways for students to recover from the effects of a tragedy is to maintain or return to their normal school routines. Normal routines help establish a sense of calm and predictability important to maintaining effective learning environments. Schools should recognize that depending on the impact of the event on individuals, not all students will quickly be able to make these transitions back to the normal routine and that counseling services should be available for those continuing to require some support and guidance
5. Consider the cultures, traditions, religions and family/community values of students in any school response.
It is important that schools respect the values, traditions, beliefs and customs of the students and their families impacted by the crisis.~ Remember not everyone processes strong emotions through conversation. Some children and adults may need to respond through art, poetry, prayer, meditation or activity.