training

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
Advertisements

2015, Asana Alphabet Kids Yoga in Review

So many exciting events happened with Asana Alphabet this year!

IMG_2439

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!

IMG_2411 IMG_2528

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.

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

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 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

Bilingual and Foreign Language Yoga for Kids

Though New Yorkers have been used to living side by side with people who speak languages other than English, bi-lingual education is becoming more prominent through out the United States in general.  By offering bi-lingual programs in yoga for kids, we are able to reach even more students and possibly bring those who feel isolated into a greater community of understanding.

What’s so great about teaching yoga and other movement modalities is that we speak primarily in body language.  So even if you can’t understand, “put your head to  your knee in janusursana”, certainly watching a teacher do the pose is an easy way to begin to figure out “how to”.

So what are some of the options for including yoga in a bi-lingual setting?

  1. Give a class in English for non-English speakers (the primary form given in schools now).
  2. Give a class in English with the help of a translator.
  3. Give a class in the native language with English-only speakers welcome to join in.

In NYC schools, we often encounter students who speak Spanish or Mandarin  amongst other foreign languages.  The yoga teacher who only knows English must rely upon doing more experiential yoga and techniques rather than relying on lecturing and with kids’ yoga, that’s the best technique to use anyway. Keep them moving and stop talking!!

A yoga teacher at La Escuelita demonstrates the pose rather than just talking about it.

Of course, if the yoga teacher knows even a few words of the other primary language other than English, this is helpful in the role of managing classroom behavior and attention. Visual aids such as flash cards or an illustrated yoga book can also help you manage a class with children who are non-English speakers.  Children are also very smart and can fool  you too…there have been several instances where a child actually does understand what is going on and pretends not to (since perhaps their parents do not speak English at home) in order to play and get around the rules…it takes a very keen teacher to spot these students!

Though it would be great to have a bi-lingual teacher in these classrooms, it also becomes tricky as populations change somewhat rapidly; for instance, at a local East Village public school where Asana Alphabet teachers volunteer yoga, we have seen it go from a primarily Latin American population five years ago to now a 90% Mandarin speaking population.

At La Escuelita on the Upper West Side, children aged two to four are given class solely in Spanish to students who are both native Spanish speakers and native English speakers.  Though some children may respond in English (and if needed the teacher may help them out with some English), most children readily take to the Spanish classes and in the oldest classroom, it seems that the majority of the children are bilingual from being placed in such an environment.  All of the teachers at La Escuelita are fluent in both Spanish and English. Yoga en Espanol at La Escuelita over the past years has been an incredible experience.  In this case, it is absolutely essential that the yoga teacher can speak Spanish in order to be in alignment with the school’s goals (learning enough Spanish to get by as a tourist in Cancun would not be enough).  Just like many other young kids, the students at La Escuelita love learning about the animal yoga poses like el perro (dog pose), gato (cat), vaca (cow) y la cobra!  Many of the stories and games you use in English are applicable to a yogic Spanish translation, but incorporating Spanish songs into the mix or looking at specific stories from Latin America is where that extra special touch may come in handy.  This bi-lingual school has been quite successful since their opening in 2002.

At an Early Head Start Center on the Lower East Side, parents and kids aged 3 months to 2 years come in for “Parent and Child’ yoga classes with the majority of the parents (and sometimes grandparents) speaking Mandarin, though there are a few Spanish-speakers in the room.  In this instance, the yoga teachers deliver simple instructions with lots of visual reinforcement in English and a Mandarin translator is provided.  The translator is very helpful in communicating the benefits of some of the poses and techniques and giving the class in English even allows some of the adults to learn simple English words such as the numbers and letters of the alphabet as many of the adults are new to the United States.  A yoga teacher in this type of classroom situation may take a few weeks to get the “rhythm” of using a translator and, as stated before, show many of the techniques instead of talking about them in detail (so parents do the yoga instead of listen and wait for translation).  These are truly joyful classes as the parents are full of hope and encouragement towards their children and they truly participate with 100% effort.  One way the yoga program is differentiated is also to take into account some of the special holidays they celebrate, like Chinese New Year.  When the kids’ showed up wearing Rabbit Ears in honor of year of the rabbit, we sang the bunny hop and incorporated simple yoga poses into the song. This family program is extremely popular with a  waiting list of over 300 families! Clearly there is a need and desire for these types of alternative physical education classes and family providers.

As an aside, being able to communicate through body language and spoken language also helps us bring teachings abroad, as you’ll see here in the small beach town of Puerto Cayo where an Asana Alphabet’s director shares a yoga game in Spanish.

And new to the Princeton, NJ area, we find Yoga in French at WildChildYoga.

Recent scholarships and work-study options have been given to trainees under Asana Alphabet’s yoga teacher training program in an effort to keep these programs alive.

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.