meditation

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.

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Emergency Yoga

Whether you have been affected by the recent east coast Hurricane Sandy directly or not, if you have been watching the news even, your body and mind could be reeling from the effects of traumatic shock.  Of course, a regular and consistent yoga and meditation practice are the best ways to stay calm, cool and collected in times like these but there are some techniques that work at a faster pace to rebalance your system. 

Here we have the “Earthquake Meditation” which really can be used for any major catastrophe.  Anne Novack does an excellent job of calmly leading us through the “how to” here: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdxqL_JsGD0

If you need something closer to a ‘workout’ feel free to do a search for Anne’s other calm yet challenging videos of Kundalini Yoga kriyas. 

Great for kids and adults, if you are facing a situation of grief, pant like a dog and “hit” yourself on the pecs with your “paws”.  This quickly alleviates severe depression, grief and anger, basically detoxing you physically and mentally.  Try 3 minutes and work up to 11.  

The 3ho yoga community also has some words of advice as well as volunteer and coordination of help here: http://www.3ho.org/ecommunity/2012/11/hurricane-sandy-support-tools-and-help-getting-to-winter-solstice/

For longer term anxiety relief, check out Mukunda Stiles’s book, “Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy”.  The vata series of hatha poses certainly brings calm with even one repetition. 

Many blessings to those of you suffering due to Hurricane Sandy. May we all cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” and recognize the other as you as we try to help each other in this time. 

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.

 

 

Yoga to Open the Creative Mind

We are looking forward to leading workshops on how yoga can help the creative mind at an arts workshop for teens at Mercer Community College in NJ this coming Friday! The techniques can help actors memorize lines, fight writer’s block and help recall of images for painters, choreographers and other visual designers.  Here’s a preview:

We will be working on poses that open the heart center, calm the chatty mind and visualizing with a yoga nidra session. Some points of inspiration include:
From
http://creationmeditation.com/2011/09/02/yoga-of-creativity/

“The yoga of creativity is the art of developing a relationship with and trusting the unknown. It is cultivating an inner state similar to that of the famous cinematographer, Ingmar Bergman, whenever he conceived of a new film. “It is a mental state,” he said, “abounding in fertile associations and images. Most of all, it is a brightly colored thread sticking out of the dark sack of the unconscious. If I begin to wind up this thread, and do it carefully, a complete film will emerge.”

And inspiration from: http://www.lovestroubadours.com/id29.html

“Whenever I have writer’s block, I come into child’s pose on my yoga mat or in my bed. Most times, I stretch my arms out in front of me. My fingers are wideneded and get a nice web-like stretch. Generally, I hold this pose for a long time (i.e. fifteen to twenty minutes) because it relaxes me and releases stress from my lower back. I love to focus my breathing on opening my third eye, the sixth chakra which governs my intuition and allows for clarity and understanding.”

Yoga for students with ADHD or on the Autism Spectrum

Last week, the director of Asana Alphabet was lucky enough to speak at a professional development day, in conjunction with WildChildYoga, for teachers and therapists who primarily work with high school students with ADHD and/or are on the autism spectrum.

Though certainly there are alot of qualitative studies speaking of the positive benefits of using yoga techniques with children, it is very exciting that there are quantitative studies now that show that yoga does work on students with ADHD.  You can read about the first study done by clicking here.  If you are going to try to help students with ADHD, apart from designing a good lesson plan, is to make sure your students practice on a regular basis.  For instance, doing yoga 3 times/week for half an hour would have more lasting benefits than doing it once a month for 6 hours.

For children on the autism spectrum and/or with a variety of sensory challenges, many yoga techniques work well in helping these children become comfortable with their bodies and greater self.  One I use in particular is an abbreviated version of Kirtan Kriya which I learned when studying Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.  Kirtan Kriya, though not given the yoga credit at times, has also found its way into workshops for those studying to become occupational therapists.  To see a sample of our latest professional development video on kirtan kriya, click here.

Though many school teachers are not yoga practitioners, it is easy enough for them to learn a few simple yoga exercises and games that go a long way.  Attending a teacher training can help that!  Asana Alphabet currently has teacher trainings scheduled for Nov. 14 in Princeton and Dec. 4 and late winter in NYC.