Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Halloween Yoga

October is a great time of year.  Leaves change, the weather gets cooler, and there's Halloween!  This time of year is a great time to use your kids imagination during their yoga class.  Yoga for kids has a lot to do with imagination, pretending to be cats, dogs, and frogs.  Why not Halloween characters!

This week at my preschool yoga class we had a discussed what every body was going to be for Halloween.  Of course all the kids knew what they wanted to be.  After talking about what we were going to be, everyone got very excited.  We took a time out and rested in rock pose. A great way to calm the kids after such an exciting activity!

Pirate Pose, using Lazy Lizards Yoga Mats as a telescope!

After resting and giving our brains and bodies a break, we stood in mountain pose, and waited patiently to make up our own Halloween Yoga Poses.  No right or wrong just using our imaginations. This always puts a smile on my face, everybody is so different, and our brains all work differently and this is a way to see how we think differently.  We came up with Spider Pose, Pumpkin Pose, Frankenstein Pose, Ghost Pose, just to name a few.  Somebody even came up with Pirates Pose, and rolled up their Lazy Lizards Yoga Mat for their telescope.

Encourage your kids to use their imaginations to watch them grow and have fun with yoga!  Here's some examples of what kind of yoga poses the kids made up today.
Pumpkin Pose
Spider Pose

Frankenstein Pose

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Introducing Breathing Exercises to Kids

During Lazy Lizards Yoga, we always do breathing exercises, or in Sanskrit (the language of yoga) pranayama.    An easy way to introduce deep breaths, is to use a breathing ball.  It helps kids find the relationship of how the breath works inside the body.  When the ball expands breathe in, as you breathe in your oxygen fills up the lungs and the belly and makes them bigger, just like the ball, and as you breath out, as the ball gets small your lungs and belly get smaller, or contract, depending on the age of the kids.  Holding the ball and expanding and contracting the ball slowly will help the kids to slow down their breath.  Explain how taking slow breaths can help us feel renewed when we are tired and can also help when you are feeling angry or sad. Once the children start to get it, have them close their eyes, and ask them how it may feel different, encourage them to imagine the ball expanding and contracting in their own bodies.  I also have the kids pass the ball around, because they always love to touch and feel, with everybody breathing along when it is somebody else's turn, breathing as slowly or rapidly as the ball is moving.

Here's and example how we use the breathing ball in our kids yoga class:

There are many benefits in teaching our children to take deep breaths during times of stress, and anger.  It gives them a "time out", so to speak to restart . It also helps focus their minds.  Have your child start deep breathing exercises at an early age to carry with them as a tool to use for their entire lifetime.  At first they just might say it makes them feel better, but with practice, they will learn to use it when they need it during their day, when Mom or Dad are not around.

breathing excercises for kids

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Easy Back to School Yoga Routine

Fall is in the air, school is back in session, Labor Day has passed.  It must be September.  September represents a lot of changes and is National Yoga Month.  What a great opportunity to try something new for your kids, maybe even yourself.

Trying to get into a back to school routine? Have your kids try 5 yoga poses this month before going to school. Here's a quick and easy yoga routine, try it with them, and they might surprise you, they may start to practice on their own.  Take 3 to 6 deep breaths in each pose, depending on how much time you have.

yoga for kidsRock Pose: Come to seated with your knees and heels together, slowly bring your forehead to the ground, arms rest gently by your sides, gently close the eyes.   Breathe in and out of your nose slowly and gently feeling your belly expand on your thighs as you breathe in and noticing how you can relax a little more as you breath out. This yoga pose is a great way to start out your child's practice, to have them notice how they are feeling at the present moment.

Up Cat and Down Cat:  This is a great pose to have your children try before school, to warm up their spine, since they are sitting down most of the day. Come onto all fours, hand and knees.  As you breathe in drop the belly towards the floor and look up, as you breathe out, press into the hands round the chin and the tail bone like a scary Halloween cat.

kids yoga posecat pose for kids
Downward Facing Dog:  Kids love going upside down, and down dog is a great pose to stretch the back of the body, increase strength and rejuvenate the brain.  Come onto your hands and knees, curl the toes under, press evenly into the hands and lift the bottom up to the sky, creating a V with the body. Look between your two feet. Don't  forget to take your 3 to 6 deep breaths!

Lazy Lizard Pose:  After stretching and moving, lay in Lazy Lizards Pose.  Lay down comfortably on the floor.  Let your feet relax open to the sides, let your shoulders sink into the floor and close the eyes gently.  Encourage kids to notice how they feel to help them relax a little more.

This routine will not take more then 5 minutes.  Try it for the month of September, and ask them if they notice a difference during their school day.  Most likely they will, and will want to continue with their before school yoga practice.  

Lazy Lizards Yoga also offers Before School Yoga Classes for Schools, if you are interested in adding yoga to your Before or After School Program in the Centennial, Parker and Highlands Ranch, Colorado Areas.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Creative, Crafty and Calming....

yoga craft for kidsI always try and come up with a new activity for my little yogi's 3 to 5 at the end of  each 6 week session of Lazy Lizards Yoga.  I have been in a creative funk lately and have always wanted to have the kids make their own eye pillow that they can use during Lazy Lizard Pose.  The kids I teach are 3 to 5, and skill levels are inconsistent and I am not very handy with a thread and needle. I have been trying to think of a way for the yoga kids to make their own eye pillow for years that is easy, not very time consuming and not very messy.  And I finally came up with something.

This week I had one of my friend's 4 year old daughter come over to see if it would be something that she would enjoy, be able to do effortlessly, and use.  And it worked!  After making her eye pillow MJ took her eye pillow home, and slept with it so she would be "calm" when she went to bed. And has been using it every night.

Since my experiment was successful, I decided to try it at my preschool class, which I have about 8 students from 3 to 5.  We did make sort of a mess, but it was easy to clean up.  The kids had a great time, mixing up the ingredients and smelling the essential oils, and being able to bring something home to show Mom and Dad.

How to make a creative, crafty and calming eye pillow with no sewing:

Materials you will need:

Flax Seed
Metal Bowl
Fun Patterned Knee Socks
Essential Oils of Your Choosing

1.  Go to the local $1 Store, or wherever you think they may have inexpensive fun knee socks. Or even use your own socks! Wash to create softness and tie a knot in the bottom.

2.  Mix the rice and flax seed to the consistency you think is best, no right or wrong here, and you don't even have to use the flax seed, it just creates a little more softness for the pillow.  I tossed the ingredients into a bowl, and let the kids mix it up with there hands talking about the senses, how it feels, how it smells and what it looks like.

3.  Add the essential oil.  Remember a few drops goes a long way.  3 to 4 drops is plenty, less is more!  I brought a few different oils and had the children smell the bottles, and then had them vote on which one they liked best. Lavender and peppermint came to a tie, so I did a little of both.  I mix up the mixture after adding the oils.

4.  Split kids in groups of 2 to help each other.  I am the only teacher, so it makes it easier, if the kids help each other.  Have the kids pick which sock they want.  I had them close their eyes and pick the socks out of a bag.

5.  I had paper funnels for each group, and a scoop.   Have the kids insert the funnel in the sock and gently pour the rice mixture into the sock.

6.  Tie a knot at the end of the sock.  Some kids will be able to do this and other will not, but let them try.

7.  Have the kids lay in Lazy Lizard Pose, and put their new eye pillow over their eyes for deep relaxation!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reasons To Have Your Own Yoga Mat

I recently went to a yoga class for myself.  This is harder then it sounds, since I teach yoga for kids, adults, young and old, it is very hard to find a class to go for yourself, I am always teaching yoga at the same time everybody else is.  I went to class on a whim, and forgot my yoga mat.  I was a irritated that my mat was not in the car, like it usually is, and decided to to go to class anyway.

Here's 4 reasons to have your own yoga mat, young or old.

kids yoga mat1.  If you don't have your own yoga mat, sometimes studios charge you for using their yoga mat.  This is ridiculous, why wouldn't you be able to use one of their mats? It's not like they don't have them.  I was told it was to cover for the "cleaning" fee.  Really? Spraying sanitizer on it, and wiping it down, really costs $3?  This $3 could go toward your own yoga mat.  If you rent one every time, it would cost you a fortune.

2.  They stink!  Even though the studio may charge you a "cleaning" fee, they still stink, they are not very sanitary.  Who knows if the person that was supposed to clean them did.  The entire time I was doing my practice, I couldn't get the stink out of my nose.

3.  On the positive side, having your own mat for yoga, creates a personal space.  It's like a place you call home during your practice, you know how it's going to work, or even stink, when you use it.  It makes you feel grounded, even rolling it out.

kids yoga mats4.  You can personalize your mat.  This doesn't mean you have to put your name on it,(but with a Lazy Lizards Yoga Mat for Kids, there is a space for kids to put there name on the mat and make it their own), but you know what you like, the color the pattern the texture.  There are so many yoga mats our their now, you can choose an array of colors, thickness, pattern, texture.  When you choose your mat for your yoga practice, let your personality show through.

Whatever you do remember to smile on your mat and have fun, and don't forget to breathe!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Everyone Ought To Know About Yoga For Kids

Yoga can be done by anyone, young, old, even kids. With a little help, even toddlers can do it. A simple introduction to yoga done with a little bit of game playing and poses named after animals, can do wonders to children's minds, bodies and inner spirit.

A few benefits of kids yoga are:

•To be healthier and help obesity in children. By taking yoga class, kids are triggered to move. Nowadays, because of the computer games, kids move less than they ought to.

•To control their stress. Yes, children can get stressed out, too. Being over scheduled, tough competition in school, peer pressure, all are the cause of your kids’ strain. Yoga can help them to get relaxed. Their ability to control their breathing can be applied to deal with problems they face in real life.

•Better concentration. Controlling breathing is a way to learn how to focus. And yoga can be a very good way in learning that. Some studies have shown that kids who practice yoga, especially those with special needs, such as those with ADHD, are able to concentrate for longer periods of time.
Yoga also can be a way for them to express themselves and develop their self-esteem. To those with special needs, it can be a way to learn how to socialize.

The method is flexible. Yoga for kids mostly is modified with game playing, singing, storytelling, drawing, simple breath meditations and rest. Poses are balanced between quiet and active ones.

Children follow the teacher’s instructions by learning the names of different body parts, their locations and function. That way, their yoga improves very quickly.

Yoga for kids should be enjoyable. Try to put your kids in a yoga class and see how they can grow stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. And, they can have lots of fun. Ask them to name their favorite yoga pose, and it is usually Lazy Lizard Pose!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Flamingo Pose

Flamingos like to congregate in a large, shallow body of water, all preening their pink feathers, resting in the sun and standing on one leg for hours at a time.

Scientists are not exactly sure why flamingos stand on one leg so regularly.But it's an impressive ability, considering flamingos'­ legs are longer than their bodies, and most of their weight is oriented horizontally. Humans are oriented vertically, with almost all of their weight in line with the center of gravity. It really should be easier for humans to stand on one leg than for flamingos. But most of us have trouble standing one leg for 10 seconds, let alone for hours like flamingos do.

To encourage your child to focus and be present have them try flamingo pose, maybe even try it along with them or by yourself. Here's how:

Stand with your feet together and focus your eyes on something (that is not moving) out in front of you.  Take a deep breath in and place the bottom of your right foot on your inner left ankle or calf. Breathe out and place your hands on your hips.  Imagine your pink wings out to the side while you balance on one foot.  Take a few deep breaths and then lower your foot to the ground. Now repeat on the other side with your left foot up.

I often encourage children to start with a count of 5 on one leg, and then backwards from 5 on the other.  Once they start to feel more comfortable ask them how long they may be able to stay, give them a goal to achieve, but let them know every time they practice flamingo pose it is different.  If they fall out encourage them to take a deep breath and start over again, you can even put an object in front of them to help them focus.

Flamingos even sleep on one leg, give your child a challenge once they feel comfortable in flamingo pose with their eyes open to close their eyes and pretend to be a sleeping flamingo.  

Try it yourself you may be surprised how challenging it can be.