kids

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!

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Yoga for Creativity Workshop: Recap

If you couldn’t make our last workshop at 3rd Street Yoga this Sunday or you just want to remind yourself of what we did, here’s a little sneak peak of what you may have missed:

We started off class with an exercise that melds drawing with breathing, a nice way to center yourself because as we know, “a relaxed mind is a creative mind” (thanks Yogi Bhajan).  This wonderful kriya comprised the bulk of our physical activity, here taught by Sat Dharam Kaur.  Several meditations from Yogi Bhajan’s intellectual and inspiring book, “The Mind” had us chanting and holding our arms up in somewhat challenging positions….not that the arms or so challenging, but holding them up for 11 minutes can really create a nice burn! All to ignite more creativity.  We rounded out the class with a class-created visualization savasana, which is also a great technique to use with your middle school and high school students.  Hope you can join us next time.

 

 

Connecting with our patients through exercise

Our first guest blogger, David Haas of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, shares an article he wrote on how physical fitness and sports can help cancer patients.  I think the part on being involved in a community setting is particularly poignant.  Yoga class, apart from physical activity, can also provide a sangha, or a supportive community setting, where people can connect with one another.  Of course, yoga has also been used as preventative medicine for cancer and other ailments as well.  Enjoy!

Fun Sporting Activities Provide an Enjoyable Fitness Workout for Cancer Patients

Sports are a great way for people with cancer to get involved socially and to get the exercise that can help them to fight the disease.  Mesothelioma cancer, and any other cancer, can affect the body in severe ways. It is vital that people who are battling this disease try to get regular amounts of exercise on a weekly basis.

Medical researchers have proven repeatedly that when a person is able to incorporate exercise into his or her normal routine, the individual will have better circulation, stronger heart, and stronger muscles. Increased physical strength is often just the thing that many people who have cancer need in order to withstand long months of cancer treatments.

When a person makes a commitment to begin a new physical fitness routine, try mapping out a weekly schedule of fitness events or activities. Writing down the fitness times will help an individual to remain committed to the routine and also to be reminded of any physical fitness goals that are set.  

Including sports as a main activity may be ideal for many people who have cancer. Sports are an ideal way for people who are ill to socialize and connect with others. When a person is going through constant rounds of chemo or radiation, it can be easy to become depressed and listless. Getting in regular amounts of exercise and social activity will help to provide coping measures.

Physical sports played with family or friends can be a great way to laugh, let off steam, and get active. This can result in a much needed stress reliever, as well as resulting in increased amounts of energy from the physical exercise. Basketball, softball, volleyball, and tennis are fun and interactive activities that provide a great way to enjoy exercise.

Physical fitness routines, when monotonous, can quickly grow boring and the person may lose interest in activities quickly. Combining exercise with socialization helps to keep a person interested in getting active. This can lead to an increased quality of life and a healthier person who is able to face serious cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Other sporting events that can be fun to participate in for cancer patients, or people who are recovering from cancer, include running, rowing, golf, and bowling. Because every person is different, every single one of these activities may not appeal to the same person. However, people can choose a few sporting activities they enjoy the most and alternate participating in these sports as often as they like.

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports has comprehensive information on how to begin a solid fitness program. Data is also provided to help people with cancer to create a routine that they can slowly progress with and build upon.

KIDZ ZUMBA!!  Free trial in April!

Kids just want to have fun…a great way to get your cardio then take kid’s yoga for the relaxation! Zumba mixes fun Latin rhythms and songs with dance steps that improve the cardiovascular system, help to release pent up energy, and help the brain work in tandem with the body. Asana Alphabet’s teacher Daniela, a rock star of a dancer leads this amazing class. See the photo for all the info or check out http://www.kidsfunhouse.com

Yoga as Cross Training for Teen Sports

There are many avenues in which to introduce yoga into a school.  Often, the preschool and kindergarten classes want yoga as a regular part of their school week.  From there, afterschool programs are a good fit since many times the families pay for the program (rather than the school having to foot the bill).  Both health and PE programs also benefit from yoga. And now, we are helping to cross-train some high school teams in the spring.
Here are some basic yoga poses we’ll be using for the cross-country team at a local school soon.  Enjoy!
1.  Cat/Cow:
Version One: Hold your uttanasana/standing forward bend for some extra time.
Version Two: Hold downward facing dog for extra time.
Version Three: In forward bend, take left arm into air as you turn torso open towards the left (so an upper body spinal twist)..repeat on right.
3.  “Runner’s Lunge”; primarily to open hip flexors. Both sides.
4.  From “runner’s lunge”, bend back knee to straighten front leg. Both sides.  Hello Hamstrings!
5.  Triangle Pose/Trikonasana…for a nice leg stretch but also for core torso strength.
6.  Pigeon Pose or seated bodakonasana
7.  Legs up the wall pose…let weight and blood out of the feet.  Help reduce any swelling in ankles/knees and a nice relaxation, particularly before bed or post-running.
Teaching yoga to preteens and teens (middle school and high school) is alot of fun and you can readily see the benefits on the students.  Want to know more? Take an upcoming teen teacher training with us (Miami: March 17-18; NYC: April 14-15, 2012). www.AsanaAlphabet.com.

Tips for Keeping your Kids yoga class under control!

You may have all the lesson plans in the world, but if your class is out of control, it will be hard to teach anything! Here are a few ways to make your classroom an effective place for learning:

-Come well prepared for your class. Go over your lesson plan before children come to see you and have some extra ideas at the ready.

-Do yoga or meditation before teaching. Children will often reflect your own mood. The more calm, enthused and organized you are, the better your class will be.

-Be sypathetic to those who are acting out. Though some kids may be in a “bad” mood, children who do not understand directions, consequences or find an exercise too easy or difficult may act out. Look at your teaching strategies to see if some changes can be made to accomodate that child.

-Arrive before your class starts so the classroom is yoga friendly with distractions and dangers (such as toys, books, dirty floor) are out of the way.

-Continue your education. Observe other teachers in action and incorporate what works into your teaching strategies.

Need More? Asana Alphabet holds periodic teacher trainings….many coming up in February-April, 2012.  More TBA at our website: http://www.AsanaAlphabet.com

Using music in a teen yoga class

A week before our next teacher training workshop (Jan. 21-22 in NYC..one spot left!) and once again I find myself going through the guidebook making sure I’ve caught every last spelling mistake.  I thought I’d share a new excerpt from our upcoming preteen/teen yoga teaching guide…enjoy!

MUSIC for Teen Yoga Class

As an adult yoga teacher, I have strayed from using music in my classes so that my students can more easily listen to the sound of their own breathing. While music can inspire us to go deeper, it is often relied upon by some teacher to distract us or, if you will, to continue the ongoing chatter in our brains that we are trying to smooth out.

I also want my teen students to listen to themselves and silence can really be golden for them; but I feel music is a great gateway for getting teens to be interested and engaged in yoga, or even to want to attend in the first place.  A useful technique is to play background music softly during the majority of class then slowly begin to fade it out.  I find that the contrast of music then silence can bring the students more in touch with themselves.  If you are good at keeping rhythm, using a drum to count breathing rhythms can also be engaging.  Most teens love music they listen to in their free-time, and it may be a fun option to allow students to play DJ or have a free choice once in a while.  Most of the time, teachers need to “re-select” choices because of language and subject matter that is not promoted in schools, so asking for music choices a few days beforehand is advised.

Teachers can use this opportunity in yoga to expose students to a variety of music styles.  Perhaps using a relaxing piece by Bach that they are also studying in music class or taking a pick from the wide selection of music from other cultures. If you don’t have these selections on hand, try exploring the website GrooveShark where you can sample full songs of many artists (but be mindful….if you constantly pick an artist or a certain song, it’s worth the good karma to actually purchase it).

Finally, we school teachers also need to watch out for yoga music that chants about a particular God.  Many schools I have worked in will not tolerate a chant praising Ganesha or Shiva so perhaps opt for a more “nonreligious” choice like Dharmma Mitra’s long Aums.  And if you teach younger kids, you can also find some child-friendly yoga songs for purchase at www.AsanaAlphabet.bandcamp.com.

Asana Alphabet Teacher gets started in Atlanta, GA

We’re really going to miss Nicole Levin here in NYC! Nicole recently gave up a somewhat “corporate” career for teaching kids yoga and she really came out of the gate running.  Shortly after taking Asana Alphabet’s certification program, she found herself teaching yoga at our open classes in Soho, at a Williamsburg YMCA and at a Sheepshead Bay summer camp.  Let’s just say she works hard, is super creative and her love for kids really shines through.  Nicole has relocated to Atlanta recently to study towards a degree in nutrition where she also plans to continue teaching as well (and perhaps leading some Asana Alphabet trainings too, we’ll see!).

Our best wishes to you!!Image

The Joy of Giving

ImageThis Thanksgiving, Liam, a brand new yogi, received Asana Alphabet’s yoga book, “Yogi and Yogette Learn the Asana Alphabet”.  With a yoga pose for every letter of the alphabet, it helps kids reinforce the alphabet through yoga and movement.  As many of us already know, young children learn best through movement so this book canbe especially inspiring as it encourages you to try out the poses yourself. Since English is Liam’s second language, that’s just another bonus as he sounds out the letters of the alphabet.  His favorite pose in the book? TREE POSE!  Apparently was so excited about the book that he had to transfer his love along to his sister afterwards (see below).

“How can I give one of these?”  you ask…go to our shopping tag at www.AsanaAlphabet.com or sometimes you can find them at Amazon.com (title: Yogi and Yogette Learn the Asana Alphabet).  Order by Dec. 14th for holiday deliveries.  50% of all sales on our website go to providing more FREE classes for our kindergarten students on the lower east side.

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