I wrote this article for SivanaEast. If you have a little one and want some ideas for teaching them a yogic sun salutation, check out https://blog.sivanaspirit.com
By Jeff Dickson
"These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill."
Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.
- Thich Nhat Hahn
Returning to the MOMS club she participated in with her mother from years past, Ava helps demonstrate during the reading of 'I Can Be One Too! A Child's Book of Yoga Poses'. Thank you Kelly and Kathryn for hosting!
Great to have so many little ones joining Ava and I, in their pj's, doing the yoga poses of 'I Can Be One Too!'
Thanks to Erin Gambrill, Children's Services Supervisor with the Carroll County Mt. Airy Library, for hosting Ava and I today for an author reading/demo event. A little one decided to join Ava on her mat for downward facing dog. Toddlers are the best!
I recently wrote an article, which was featured at YogaU's online site. Thought it may be of interest for other yogi's or non-yogi's.
Playtime Yoga: Teaching Yoga to Toddlers
By: Susan Kain
As a teacher of 'Toddler and Me Yoga,' a class designed for children aged 12 to 36 months, I’m often asked, “How can you possibly expect to teach yoga for that age range?” The questions usually continue with, “Aren’t they full of energy?” Yes! “Don’t they have short attention spans?” Yes! “Isn’t it chaotic?” Not usually.
Children of this age are naturally curious and sponge-like. They want to play and learn. It’s an important developmental time socially, physically and emotionally. They are experiencing life through their eyes, ears, and sense of touch. They are learning and expressing through language. Toddler yoga provides an introduction to yoga with the freedom for the children to explore in a supervised setting along with their parent or caregiver.
Yoga Class for ToddlersWhat is a typical 45-minute class like? Since children of this age crave repetition, many basic songs and yoga poses are repeated each week. (They will remind you if you’ve forgotten any!) Music with associated movements and books are wonderful ways to help teach. Children learn by watching adults, so parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate in the movements and poses.
As an instructor of toddlers, you quickly learn what activities the children prefer and when it’s time to change course. They enjoy various props such as a pinwheel or Hoberman sphere to practice deep breaths, a scarf held overhead to become a rainbow, or a play squirrel to climb their leg while in Vrksasana (Tree Pose).
Making Yoga Poses Appropriate for ToddlersAny basic yoga pose can be made appropriate for toddlers. For example, a basic Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) becomes reaching the arms up to touch the sun and hanging down to tickle the toes. Vipariti Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose) pairs well with the 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' song. Holding hands for 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' is an opportunity for a modified Upavistha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose). 'Ring Around the Rosie' morphs into 'Ring Around with Yogis.'
A toddler yoga class has lots of hugs and kisses! Throughout the class, parents and caregivers are encouraged to celebrate every attempt at a yoga pose by their child. Teaching yoga to children should be a fun, silly and playful time.
Swami Saryananda Saraswati said, “The yoga experience for the child of this age should not come through lessons but through play.” He adds, “While enjoying the play with the children, the yoga teacher does not want to simply entertain but to provide an environment for utilization of all yoga activities for unfolding and balancing the total personality of the child. As the child grows older and enters school, the presentation of yoga can take on a more structured form.” (Adjustments of a child’s yoga postures generally do not occur until the age of eight.) (1)
We’ve all read about and some of us know first hand the benefits of yoga for children. Do you think you would be interested in teaching yoga for this age? Who is considered the best suited to teach toddlers?
Attributes of Good Teachers for Young Children: (2)
Susan Kain, e-RYT, RCYT, has taught yoga for seventeen years. She is a former educator with over thirty years of experience in working with children. In preparation for toddler and preschool classes, Susan has created various picture books. The first to be published is entitled, I Can Be One Too! A Child’s Book of Yoga Poses. You can reach Susan through her website at www.susankain.com.
Active Start, guidelines available from The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) for children from birth to the age of five, indicate children aged 12-36 months should have at least 30 minutes of adult-led structured physical activity every day.
(1.) See Saraswati, S.S., Yoga Education for Children, Chapter 3 and 4.
(2.) McMullen, M.B., 2013. National Association for the Education of Young Children. http:/www.journal.naeyc.org
This wonderful article was written and posted online by an incredible yoga instructor, Cyndi Lee. With 2018 approaching, do you feel full of 'cravings and dissatisfaction instead of joy'?
HOW TO GO WITH THE FLOW
As I settled in to teach to a packed room, we heard a steady, loud hammering on the old roof right next door. It wasn’t the kind of noisy machinery you’d hear in a big city like New York; it was just a couple of guys on the roof, pounding away all morning.
As you can imagine, the room wasn’t exactly feeling settled. While it would have been nice if those workers stopped banging, that isn’t how life works, is it? It’s hard to get everything lined up just right all the time—everything arranged just the way we like it so that we can finally be relaxed and content.
For years, I’ve listened to students explain why they can’t do certain poses. The reasons are always essentially the same: My core is too weak, my hips are too tight … you get the point. The undertone is always hope that once the obstacle goes away, something better will take its place. Of course, when that better thing happens, there will be another elusive obstacle that is hypothetically making something else unattainable, and so on. The result? We end up full of craving and dissatisfaction rather than joy.
Yes, your yoga practice does offer adjustments for refining your experience and making you feel a bit more comfy. There are various modalities available to us, designed as yogic course corrections, so to speak. Yet, in the end, course correcting is not what practice is all about. Yoga is not an aspirin. It’s not about making things fit us so that we can feel better. In fact, when we approach yoga that way, we actually create our own roller coaster. Oooh, I’m too cold; I’m too hot; my arms are too short; it’s too noisy in here. We are always measuring. And all too frequently, nothing is just right.
So then, what is our practice about? It’s about getting familiar—with ourselves, our minds, and our habits, including all the ways we habitually create our own discontent. Rather than trying to make ourselves more comfortable—by adding props, or wishing the hammering noise would stop or the weather were different—what if we tried to expand our comfort zones? I believe the first step toward doing this is recognizing how we create our own discomfort.
Asana is a great method for this recognition, because a lot of feelings—both physical and emotional—come up when we move our bodies. When we take interest in this idea, we can begin to get familiar with the difference between feelings and thoughts. Thoughts seduce us, tempting us to get hooked on story lines about feelings and emotions that have already changed and dissolved. The hammering outside these windows is annoying, distracting, and threatens to ruin this yoga class. But will the hammering do all of that, really?
If we can stay with our feelings and relax our habitual thought responses, we begin to get familiar with the flow—the vinyasa—of our own experience. We can start to recognize that everything that arises also dissolves. Every noise and silence, sadness and delight—it’s all impermanent. Our asana practice can help us simply be with whatever it is that comes up.
When we can do this, we can start to look inside ourselves for growth. We can trust the practice itself—the practice of witnessing our lives. Can we show up fully for this? Can we pay attention and allow ourselves to be more curious about the way things are rather than focusing on how we may be able to manipulate the situation to fit our current desires?
Instead of trying to re-establish our equilibrium from moment to moment, we may find that we can ride noise and silence, hot and cold, yes and no, and joy and sorrow, just as a ship in the ocean stays afloat by rolling with the waves. Instead of losing equilibrium and needing a course correction, we become
nimble, curious, and resilient. Our options expand. And as we learn to trust the practice, we learn to more fully trust ourselves.
Susan Kain is a Registered Yoga Teacher, Pilates instructor and a Certified Personal Trainer with classes for toddlers to senior citizens.