children

Star Wars Yoga

From the Founder of Asana Alphabet Yoga for Kids, Ann Robideaux, c. 2016

star-wars-yoga1.jpgI don’t often design kids yoga classes around commercialized characters, as we can get much more  authentic in our kids yoga practice than talking about the wonders of Disney (of course there are others, but most of my young students seems to mention Disney characters and stories the most).  Some schools we bring kids yoga to explicitly say they do not want ANY lesson plans using commercialized characters.  BUT, a yoga teacher recently asked if I had ever done a Star Wars yoga class (no I have not), but if I was going to, I’d probably add these few things in. You know, sometimes meeting kids where they are at with what they already like is one way to entice them to start yoga in the first place.In the end, yoga is about being happier, and if Star Wars is the way to get you there, so be it.:

—Take long deep breaths…loud through your nose like Darth Vadar. These are good breaths though! 

—Explore Warriors, 1, 2, 3 and Peaceful War with positive energy lightsabers.

—Meditate like yoda in the mountains.

–Practice half-moon rising and crescent moon poses as you explore the galaxies.

—Inhale turn your head left and exhale turn your head right like R2D2 (Kundalini Yoga inspired here)

As a small but important note here, I personally call yoga poses by their given names ALWAYS.  So for instance, I may say, “take giant warrior 1 steps like Chewbacca” but I would never say, “do Chewbacca Yoga Pose”. Let’s keep yoga authentically yoga please.

So after creating a few quickie ideas, I turned to Ye Olde Google Search and wasn’t surprised to find some great Star Wars Yoga Cartoons as well as a fun kids yoga video on that theme.  If you teach Star Wars Yoga to kids, let me know how it goes. If you want to learn more fun ways to engage children in real yoga, come train with Asana Alphabet. Our next basic trainings are in NJ and Arkansas as well as a Baby Specialty training in NYC this May.  Namaste!

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True Yoga Stories: Success with Middle Schoolers

Report from today, March 11, 2016; All boys yoga class; average age: 11

Teacher: First day of yoga, please come in and lie down on a mat to relax a bit.

Students: Everyone runs to a mat. Three boys make a pile up on one mat and wrestle, the rest of them flop down in various positions.

Teacher: Please keep your voices off so you can hear what to do.

Students: Two boys call out, “I’ve done this before!” ; another, “ssshhh!” and yet another pretends to snore in savasana. A few do listen quietly.

Teacher: OK, time for sun salutations

Students: Everyone participates while yelling out what poses they can’t do (mainly touching their toes).

Teacher: Now for some partner yoga.

Students: Several partners wrestling and play hitting each other, then trying out the partner yoga poses with some success.

Teacher: Let’s learn warrior 1, 2 and 3 poses.

Students: I want to do warrior 7 and 9 instead!

Teacher: Ok, everyone into child’s pose please.

Students: everyone (literally everyone) is quiet

Teacher: Ok, now some challenge poses. Let’s try side arm balances.

Students: All doing their best. Some giving up but finally giving it another shot to find out they can do it.

Teacher: Now let’s lie down in savasana.

Students: Everyone (well, ALMOST everyone except for one trying to pinch his neighbor) is quiet and still.

Teacher: Time to go, please clean up your mats.

Students: “Yoga is over already?! That was too short.”

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2015, Asana Alphabet Kids Yoga in Review

So many exciting events happened with Asana Alphabet this year!

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First off, we held our first ever trainings in Vitoria and Vila Velha, Brazil. With the help of several amazing translators, our guidebook could be given out and the teachings spread orally. Really, our photos convey best how much fun we had!

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With our continued partnership with the Cornelia Connelly Center, we were able to host three successful teacher trainings in NYC this past year. When we rent from a school like Cornelia, our training participants are directly supporting positive educational programs—in this case, for middle school girls at an all-scholarship school. Second level trainings were then held in Bethlehem, PA at Kula Heart Yoga—one of our favorite spots always full of smart and positive students.

11890943_994288043924799_5037588151039084905_nSilver Kim, director/owner, is always posting photos of her in handstand—we think this would be a fun project for high school students to take on as well!

End of the year celebration!!! We received the tremendous news that the grant funding Asana Alphabet yoga classes at SCO family of services has been extended for 2016! This grant funds 20 KIDS YOGA CLASSES PER WEEK for lower income students. Not only are students served but this gives three of our expert teachers a significant chunk of hours to rely upon so they can do what they love for work.

addie baby yogaOur founder and director gave birth to a baby this year too and she’s already practicing yoga with baby. She especially recommends kundalini sufi grinds (or criss cross legs then rotate them around and in gently towards the stomach) for relieving baby gas, baby massage before bedtime and cobra pose (aka tummy time) to our followers with infants. IT WORKS! Note, you too can become a baby yoga expert by taking our May workshop in NYC.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Stay tuned for our post on what’s in store for 2016.

Join us June 11th in Brooklyn and have fun while networking!

Hi everyone! 

It’s been a while since we posted so we are happy to have some inspiration! Over the past few months, people have been asking for advice on how to start a kids yoga business.  Our director and founder always says to start from the heart.  You can only do really well, and have a truly “yogic” business, if your intentions are pure and you aim to help others.  Intentions combined with professionalism and hard work ensure PROSPERITY!  We also highly recommend mantras and kriyas for prosperity and to overcome obstacles.  

Another great idea that many business coaches recommend is to get out and network.  Here’s an event June 11th certain to be filled with like-minded business yogis and fun people! Partnering with other enterprises can also be a great way to help grow your own seeds. We hope you’ll join us. (See info below…and if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see a special offer to get you in for half price!):

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T is for Teacher: Basic Training plus Teen Intensive!

Image  Learn how to teach fun and effective yoga for kids!

Led by Asana Alphabet™ founder with guest teachers. 

March 1-2 in NYC; 10am-6:30pm both days

Full Workshop: Early Birds (by 2/1/14): $395; After 2/1: $435

Basic Only (ends Sunday afternoon): $365

Teens Only (Sun. 2:30-6:30pm only; prereq: basic training required): $108

Basic TrainingTopics covered include:

Asana Appropriateness: Safety and fun of yoga poses    Why Yoga for Children? Benefits

Breathwork for Kids                                                         Mantra and Song for Kids

Mudra and handwork for Kids                                         Kids partnering/group games

Yoga ball skills                                                                 Parent-Child Yoga Class Ideas

Prek-Grade 1 Class Outline and ideas                             Grade 2-4 Class Outline and ideas

Grades 5-8 Class Outline and ideas                                 Building your kids yoga business

Special Needs (how to adapt in general)                          Controlling Your Class

Teen Portion:  Today’s teen issues; advanced poses/partnering; talking to teens in class                                 Mediation and Relaxation; Grades 9-12 Class Outline/lesson plans/ideas

Full  training includes teaching guides, yoga songs download, detailed letter of completion & other teaching goodies. Informed by both Hatha and Kundalini Yoga Styles. Workshop can be taken on its own or in conjunction with Asana Alphabet’s basic certification. Teen intensive can be taken as a stand alone if you have already taken the basic training or have ample prior experience. Please speak with our director if you’re interested in this option.

REGISTRATION: ASANAALPHABET@GMAIL.COM

www.AsanaAlphabet.com

Advice post-training: Your questions answered

Asana Alphabet regularly receives emails and phone calls on specific questions for teaching kids yoga.  Though you may have taken workshops and have even taught classes before, there is always room for growth and more questions.  We’d thought we’d share them as they come in so you can take advantage of the advice too. From today:

Q:  Tomorrow I am having my first class with to brothers age 6 and 11 and would love to ask for advice from you; I feel challenged teaching these two at the same time because of the age difference!  What/how would you set up a class in a situation like this?

A: In general, you’ll have to see what happens on day one because privates are so different from one another…if these brothers get along well, then it shouldn’t be a problem.  If they do not get along, the parents may want to consider doing a half hour separately for each child (if you are there for an hour). 

Since a lot of the regular games you would play with a 6-year-old may be too childish for the 11-year-old (but you never know…my middle schoolers do like a lot of those games), you’ll probably want to drop the songs/storytelling aspects of class.  Start with the regular sun salutations, time to see how long they can hold a balance on each foot as an initial diagnosis and intro to yoga.  Bringing a ball along would be fun for the 6-year-old as well as for age 11…they can balance and toss the ball back and forth, pass it back and forth in navasana, hold a stretch and toss it back and forth…something they both will probably like.  If they get along, some partner yoga may work well too (especially double balances, double triangle, double plank).  After day one, you’ll probably have a good sense as to what they will enjoy together and be able to tailor accordingly.  

For more questions or to take a training where many answers are received, email us for information at AsanaAlphabet@gmail.com

Namaste, Ann 

Director, Asana Alphabet

A Stand Out Training for Kids Yoga!

In this blog post, Maisah Hargett, “T is for Teacher” workshop attendee in February of 2013, shares her thoughts on her experience training to be a kids yoga teacher with Asana Alphabet!  She currently volunteer teaches NYC students through NYCares organization too.

Have you ever left a training and felt frustrated that you don’t feel more empowered with more practically-applicable information than you were when you went in? If so, then Asana Alpabet’s teacher trainings are for you.Frequently, especially when it comes to children, trainings regarding how to work with them are super-theory based. All of the information sounds interesting, but how to apply said info in a practical manor seems daunting. My favorite thing about the Asana Alphabet T is for Teacher training was how empowered I felt to use the information following our last session.

The training was so helpful to me because it was such a good blend of the experiential and the explanatory. Ann and Kenzie taught several sample classes to the group, so we could get an idea of how to present information and facilitate activities for a variety of ages. This experiential portion helped to give me a sense of the time and the energy needed for different portions of the class. It also helped to remind me of how fun yoga can be. I think often yoga is used so much for an end (whether it be to calm, to energize, to promote fitness) that it can be easy, for me at least, to forget about the amount of fun that can be infused in the journey. We also watched footage of actual kids classes, which I think really is a must. To see what kids actually look like in the midst of a class, and to get a sense of how many kids’ attention you can hold at any given moment; the attention span of children differs greatly, not only developmentally, but individually. Regarding classroom management, watching the videos gave me a better sense of what needs to be addressed to maintain order, and what I can let go for the sake of class flow.  All that being said, trainings that are solely experiential frequently leave me feeling unclear about how to apply the skills demonstrated beyond the training experience.

Thankfully, this was not the case with the Asana Alphabet training. We went over how to plan a class, individual activity ideas, and ways to modify activities for a range of age groups. We even had a chance to put some of what we learned into action, by planning and executing (with our peers), a portion of a lesson plan. In the past I’ve been hesitant to take positions that required lesson planning, but the way Ann broke down the structure of the lesson means that hesitancy will be a thing of the past.

In addition to the time period of the scheduled training, Ann, Asana Alphabet’s founder, is also amazing when it comes to follow-up, and addressing any question or needs that arise. She keeps her trainings small to ensure that she can give each student the support they need, and it shows. In this day and age, with yoga is taking such a commercial turn, many trainings are just feeling like one more way for people to make money, but such is not the case with Asana Alphabet’s “T is for Teacher” training. Ann’s commitment to putting together a training that leaves you feeling like you have the training AND support you need, both before, during and after the weekend’ssession, really stands out.

 Asana Alphabet presents frequent trainings through out the U.S.  Coming up are an Intensive Training on Teaching Yoga to Teens (April 21-22 at Kula Heart Yoga in PA) and The T is for Teacher basic series at Jaya Yoga in Brooklyn (June 16-17).  Take note, school teachers and early bird registrations usually receive great discounts!

 

Yoga for Children on the Rise!

Great news! We always new that the kids we taught loved yoga, and increasing enrollment has confirmed that. Now even ABC news is covering it. Here are a few excerpts from Genevieve Shaw Brown’s (@gsbrownabc) latest article on the subject:

Yoga: It’s said to be the fastest-growing sport in America, with 20 million people practicing. But the latest trend among yogis is that an increasing number of practitioners are pint sized.

Kids – from newborns to teenagers – are learning the terms down dog, sun salutation and more in kids-only yoga studios and even in their classrooms. It’s also one of the only non-competitive sports available.

“More practitioners and more parents are becoming aware of the benefits of yoga and seeing their kids can benefit too,” said Liz Eustace, CEO of Alignyo, an online yoga community with a newsletter devoted to all things yoga. “The things that benefit an adult will also benefit a child. Stress reduction, mind- body connection, physical strength – these are things that benefit kids as well as adults.”

At a recent kids yoga class for 6-9 year olds, both parents and children were anxious to talk about the good yoga has brought to their lives.

“It clears your mind off something that’s really bothering you,” said one little girl.

So how does a kids yoga teacher keep the kids attention on the “oommm” for an entire class? While there are similarities between kids and adult yoga, a kids class is far more relaxed.

“[Kids and adult classes are] very different, but the foundation is always the same. There’s still the mind-body connection that is the foundation of all yoga,” said Eustace. “But what’s great is there’s a ton of creativity with kids yoga, like meowing like a cat, barking in downward dog or hissing like a cobra. There’s an incredible amount of creativity and playfulness within the foundation of yoga. And it’s these kids moving in such a creative and conscious way that makes it such a fun practice for children to get involved with.”

“My daughter’s in third grade,” said Gail Tobias, mother to one of the girls in the class. “There’s an abundance of homework already. After she’s done with the (yoga) class I find she’s much more eager to go home and sit and do her homework and be more focused. ”

A little boy – one of two in the class – told me yoga helps him forget what’s bothering him. “After class is over it seems like I’m not so worried about my problems as when I was in school,” he said. ” Like when I’m here I’m not thinking about oh how much homework do I have, or what do I have to do, what do I have to not do.”

Experts say parents should do their research before signing their kids up for a yoga program. A good place to start is the Yoga Alliance web site, where parents can search for a instructor that’s been trained in children’s yoga. The voluntary standards put forth by Yoga Alliance require 95 hours of training to become registered.

If there are no children’s yoga programs in your area, your kids can still benefit from the practice. “There’s great resources online and through books and through DVDs,” said Eustace. “Whether you’re in a small community or a larger community you can still integrate a lot of the practices and teachings of kids yoga.”

There are many kids yoga classes going on through out NYC and beyond. If you have a particularly neighborhood you want kids yoga class info on, feel free to contact us @asanaalphabet.

Black Friday Yoga Style

Yes, it’s Black Friday and there simply are not enough articles on where to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  Not only are we supposed to boost the economy by buying, but it probably gives many of us a distraction from having to continue entertaining friends and relatives.

As a yogic shopper, the mantra is “less is more”.  Do you really need to buy things in order to achieve greater happiness? Probably not.  If you’re a shop-a-holic, meditating on the roots of the desire can be of great help or at least you can consult a Yoga Grump here on the topic. 

So if you can’t resist shopping today, here are some holiday gifts you may want to consider that have a “lower impact” on the environment and will make others feel good too.  How Yogic of you!!!  Here are 3 categories of shoppers reading this blog:

 

  1. Buy nontangibles. 
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A young reader loves his yoga book!

This could be a yoga, dance or music class from a favorite instructor (good for kids and adults) where you give a gift that lasts while giving a freelancer a job, a donation to a favorite cause (hello Hurricane Sandy relief), or my favorite, a massage with a certified practitioner.  If you’re reading this blog because you’re into yoga, you can even send one of our amazing teachers to a local public school to give an afterschool class—we’ll take a photo and send a thank you to the recipient.  

 

  1. Buy almost nontangible.

You need the necessary equipment in order for these to work, but purchasing music online is another way to cut down on unnecessary packaging.  Browse local bands on Bandcamp.com.  For children, we of course recommend Asana Alphabet’s Yoga Songs for Kids.

     3.   I MUST give a tangle gift.  If you’re in this category, at least consider buying from a local artist or from somewhere that will not over-package your gift.  Though it’s a “thrift store”, The Angel Thrift Store in Chelsea (NYC) often has fashionable, brand new items that anyone with fashion sense will love.  Our favorite kid items include Annika Jermyn’s beautifully designed teddy bears (great for leading a children’s savasana or incorporating into a family yoga class), the yoga book Yogi and Yogette Learn the Asana Alphabet, or cool yoga cookie cutters designed by Karen La Du.

Well, if you just don’t want to give anything material, you can spread the word of yoga, starting by hugging yourself and twisting from side to side. Inhale left, exhale right. 3 minutes.  You’ll open your spine, your heart and make yourself feel good!