teacher

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.”

PDS child's pose.JPG

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.

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

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

Teacher of the Week combines yoga and pedicures

First off, all of Asana Alphabet‘s teachers are great and creative in their own ways. But here is one approach I hadn’t thought of yet!

Marianne Giosa was reaching the end of a semester with a group of middle school girls from the Cornelia Connelly Center so they decided to show their families some of the yoga skills they had learned; however, Marianne came across a challenge. The girls wanted to have the yoga  showing but were resistant because they did not want to take off their shoes or socks  (they said their feet were not pedicured to performance standards).

What’s the teaching solution? Marianne gave each girl a bottle of fingernail polish as an end of the semester gift. Brilliant!

Learn how to find your own creative teaching solutions at an Asana Alphabet teacher training.  We have one tomorrow, Feb. 5 in NYC followed by a February minicourse at WildChildYoga in Princeton, NJ, and an April weekend intensive at 3rd Street yoga in Edmond, OK.

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.