Category Archives for Kids Yoga

Introducing: Breathing Space Family Yoga

New Name for the Same Great Classes

image from studiojmm.typepad.comOver the past year or so, the family yoga programing I’ve been building on Capitol HIll has grown beyond just me. (As far as I know, Amalie, Cindy, Kate and Rebecca don’t answer to the name Jen.)

The mission of Breathing Space Family Yoga is to help all family members to experience the benefits of yoga.

Breathing Space Family Yoga is a mobile program that offers classes for all ages from newborn to adult in Washington, DC. Yoga classes include age appropriate postures and movement, breathing exercises, meditation or mindfulness activities, and — in kids and family classes — games, songs and even art.

The website still has a few things undone, but we are excited about the new identity and want you to mark your calendars for our Open House at Hill Center on Sunday, September 8 from noon-3:30 pm. We hope you join us for kid-friendly activities and sample classes for both kids and adults.
You can find also find Breathing Space on Facebook and Twitter.

Yoga 4 Classrooms – Professional Development Workshop

Yoga 4 Classrooms - Mindfulness & Yoga in School, Washington DC Professional Development WorkshopsAre you a teacher, adminstrator, school counselor, therapist or other education professional interested how simple yoga and mindfulness techniques could help you create a more peaceful, productive classroom day?

Yoga 4 Classrooms® is an evidence-based, low-cost, simple, effective and sustainable tool designed for classrooms, which facilitates students’ physical, mental, emotional and social personal growth. Y4C is anchored in well-validated evidence-based classroom pedagogies, developmental science, cross-sectional research in cognitive affective neuroscience, tenets of positive psychology and secular contemplative practices.

Yoga 4 Classrooms Provides Ready-to-Use Tools for Educators

Yoga 4 Classrooms - Mindfulness & Yoga in School, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia Professional Development Workshops

Y4C workshop participants learn to lead a yoga motor break

The Yoga 4 Classrooms® Professional Development Workshop is a full day workshop that covers 67 yoga and mindfulness-based activities you can put to use in your classroom immediately. Y4C includes a mix of yoga postures, brain boosting movements, breath exercises, visualizations, mindfulness activities, creative movement and community-building games.

The Y4C curriculum is focused on social, emotional, and attentional self-regulating strategies and skills, grounded in mindfulness and yogic practices and developed to systematically cultivate well-being, resilience and lifelong learning.

 

Yoga & Mindfulness Activities Designed Specifically for the Classroom Setting

Yoga 4 Clasrooms Balloon Breath Group

Elementary school students practice a breathing exercise for focus

Yoga 4 Classrooms activities are divided into six categories: Let’s Breathe, At Your Desk, Stand Strong, Loosen Up, Imagination Vacation, and Be Well. Each activity includes illustrated instructions, discussion points, sub-activities, and educational tie-ins, for a total of more than 200 beneficial classroom practices. The activities were specially chosen for their suitability for the typical classroom space and schedule and can be implemented in a variety of contexts. All activities can be done standing beside or sitting at desks, while bodies remain off the floor, away from dirt, germs and chemicals.

Though there are many worthy children’s yoga programs, none are entirely suitable for the classroom environment and/or there is too much emphasis on yoga stretching and too little on addressing the whole child: social, emotional and physical. Y4C was developed to fill in the gaps, and simply and practically address the needs communicated by teachers, administrators and parents.

Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshop

Workshop participants learn a simple and fun partner activity

Yoga 4 Classrooms
Professional Development Workshops

 The Yoga 4 Classrooms® Professional Development Workshop is the first step in learning about the Y4C program, its components and curriculum. Absolutely no yoga experience is required. This fun and informative workshop will relax and inspire you!

Contact Jen about setting up a workshop at your school.

Tuition of $180 includes:

Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck

included Yoga 4 Classrooms activity card deck
  • 6 hr. interactive workshop (includes lunch or dinner break)
  • Fully-illustrated,  230 page Yoga 4 Classrooms Teachers Manual
  • Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck
  • Possible PDP or CEUs and reimbursement from your school
  • Certificate of Completion

Read what previous attendees are saying…

Sign up for one of Jen’s workshops or find out more about On Location and Online workshop options.

Why Yoga 4 Classrooms? Making Mindfulness and Yoga Part of the School Day

Blog originally posted on YogaActivist.org

I’ve taught extra-curricular and enrichment yoga classes in a variety of settings:
public and private schools, for children just turning 2 to 12 years, and as part of the school day and within after-school care. In nearly
all cases, the teachers I’ve worked with are huge advocates of yoga for their
students. Not only do these teachers know their kids enjoy their weekly yoga
break, they see the benefits first hand.

Warrior III GroupAmong
the most often mentioned benefits of yoga for children by their teachers are that yoga:

  • relieves tension and stress, something
    teachers are very concerned about as standardized testing requirements
    continue to grow,
  • increases concentration, focus, and attention span,
  • expands imagination and creativity,
  • improves ability to be less reactive, more mindful of thoughts,
    words, and actions
    ,
  • builds confidence and self-esteem, 
  • enhances team skills and social interaction, 
  • encourages a fit and healthy lifestyle.

(read Yoga 4 Classrooms’ full list of Benefits of Yoga for Children)

Yoga & Mindfulness Integrated Throughout the School Day

Yoga 4 Classrooms® is not studio yoga in a school setting. There’s no pushing aside desks and chairs; no unrolling yoga mats; no removing shoes; and no 30 or 40 minute yoga class. Yoga 4 Classrooms is yoga integrated throughout the school day.

Open Heart StretchRight at their desks, students can bring their body, mind, and breath together using adapted-for-the-classroom yoga postures and developmentally-appropriate mindfulness and meditation exercises. A 30-second breathing exercise can center an entire room. A 2-minute motor break can invigorate and focus a class for a quiz. A 5- or 10-minute activity can relax, distress, enliven, build confidence, create community, and more, depending on the needs of the group and the exercises chosen.

About Yoga 4 Classrooms

Yoga 4 Classrooms is an evidence-based, low-cost, simple, effective and sustainable tool designed for classrooms, which facilitates students’ physical, mental, emotional and social personal growth. Y4C is anchored in well-validated evidence-based classroom pedagogies, developmental science, cross-sectional research in cognitive affective neuroscience, tenets of positive psychology and secular contemplative practices.

Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshop

Y4C logo w registerSCREENThe one-day Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshop is open to all classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors, phys ed teachers, health educators, therapists and others seeking to bring simple yoga and mindfulness techniques into the classroom or similar setting for a more peaceful, productive class day.

We cover a classroom-appropriate mix of yoga-based motor breaks, brain boosting movements, breath exercises, visualizations, mindfulness activities, creative movement and community-building games.  We’ll explore wellness and character-building discussion points such as the power of positive thinking, nutrition and being a peacemaker, which address the whole child and also many school initiatives such as bullying prevention, health and wellness and social and emotional education.

Teachers who implement Yoga 4 Classrooms usually report that taking as little as 30 seconds to 5 minutes to practice these simple tools throughout the day helps their class community learn to self-regulate, leading to a more positive, peaceful, productive school day…not to mention happier, more resilient students.

Each workshop participant receives a fully-illustrated, full-color Y4C teacher’s manual, ensuring the program is both easy to use and sustainable for long-term use.  No yoga attire or mat will be needed because we will simulate the classroom setting.

Yoga 4 Classrooms professional development workshops are offered around the United States and online. Find out more at www.Yoga4Classrooms.com

Yoga 4 Classrooms is Coming to Washington DC

I am so excited to begin sharing the Yoga 4 Classrooms program in the Washington, DC area this fall. 

Yoga 4 Classrooms - Professional Development Workshops for School Teachers

The Yoga 4 Classrooms mission is to transform educational environments through yoga-based wellness training and support, empowering students and educators to create positive, peaceful, productive classrooms that support exceptional learning and a lifetime of health and wellness. 

Y4C is low-cost, simple, effective and sustainable program designed for use in the K-8 classrooms. It's curriculum includes a mix of yoga postures, brain boosting movements, breath exercises, visualizations, mindfulness activities, creative movement and community-building games, which facilitate students’ physical, mental, emotional and social personal growth and address anti-bullying, health and wellness, and character education.

In 2007, while volunteer teaching in a local elementary school, Lisa Flynn, E-RYT, RCYT and founder of ChildLight Yoga, was inspired and challenged by the classroom teachers she encountered to create a yoga and mindfulness-based program focused on the whole child that would also be appropriate for the classroom setting. Since its implementation in 2010, Yoga 4 Classrooms is quickly expanding nationwide and beyond.

Get Started with the Yoga 4 Classrooms Professional Development Workshop

On October 27, I will lead a one-day Yoga 4 Classrooms professional development workshop at Christ Church on Capitol Hill for classroom teachers, administrators, school counselors, physical education teachers, therapists and others seeking to bring simple yoga and mindfulness techniques into the classroom. 

  When: Saturday, October 27 from 2 – 8 pm (includes a dinner break)

 Where: Christ Church on Capitol Hill, 620 E Street SE, Washington DC

 registerHow Much? Tuition of $180 includes:

  • 6 hr. interactive workshop (includes lunch or dinner break)
  • Fully-illustrated, full-color, 230 pg. Y4C Manual
  • possible PDP or CEUs and reimbursement from your school
  • Certificate of Completion

The 230pg, fully-illustrated Yoga 4 Classrooms® Manual is utilized in this workshop ensuring the program is both easy to use and sustainable for long-term use. Absolutely no yoga experience is required. In fact, educators are encouraged to wear their regular, comfortable clothing and flat soled shoes to the workshop as we'll be simulating a classroom experience.

For more information
or to register, visit
www.yoga4classrooms.com.

Interested in having an entire school trained to implement the Y4C program? Feel free to get in touch or read about how your school can be a Yoga 4 Classrooms School.

30 Dr. Seuss Quotes that Can Change Your Life

 

While I love them, I don’t read as many Dr. Suess books in my kids yoga classes as you might think. Unless you’ve regularly read bedtime stories to a skilled bedtime avoider (so they always start a little later than you’d like), you might not realize that Dr. Suess writes fairly long books. But the above illustration from Mamiverse.com (via Daily Cup of Yoga) reminds me that I should really get more creative about incorporating some of these.

Yoga IN School?

Growth of yoga for children being offered in school has paralleled the explosive growth of yoga for adults being practiced in studios, gyms, and community centers around the country.

IStock_000017019504XSmall

Benefits of Yoga for Children

Even elementary school kids deal with a lot of stress these days. As I let my 3rd-5th grade after-school yoga class into the room this past Wednesday, one of my students had near-panic written on her face. Before she even walked through the door, she asked if she could do her homework instead of participating. "I'll never get it all done tonight," she pleaded. I cocked my head to one side and looked at her. "Yeah, you're right. I need the yoga," she said and headed for a mat.

The highly controversial book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards by the New York Times' William Broad summarizes the studies on benefits of the practice for adults. A similar book on studies about the benefits to kids would be mighty thin. Parents and teachers who witnessed those benefits will tell you that yoga is great for kids.

Preliminary research on child-specific benefits include reduced problem behavior, test anxiety, and anger and increased feelings of well-being, self-regulation, and focus. The video below discusses the results of a pilot study with 4th and 5th graders in Baltimore.

What is a School Yoga Class Like?

Yoga classes offered in studios may be structured very much the same as a class offered in a school, but they are often very different.  Michelle Kelsey Mitchell from Yokid wrote a very nice blog post on the subject after hosting a writer from the Chicago Tribune at one of their classes. Yoga classes in schools tend to be noisier and more chaotic and the environment often isn't ideal, but the objective and results are very much the same:

"Studio: students who achieve a quieter mind, enjoy relaxation and appreciate the time “away” from their busy and stressful lives. Students who get that much closer to their True Self…….      School:  the exact same thing."

What Do Kids Do in Yoga in School?

While many of the poses will look familiar to adult yogis, there's much more emphasis on games and social interaction in a kids class.

Tween-yoga-school-girl-meditate

We always do a physical warm up to get the body moving and calm the mind. Then we might play a game, act out a story, or do partner exercises. Toward the end of class, we'll wind down with some more poses and do a final relaxation or guided meditation.

In that 3rd-5th grade class I mentioned above, we focused on stories this past week. After we warmed up, I told The Magic Pear Tree from Sydney Solis's Storytime Yoga. We identified the characters and actions and assigned yoga poses to the story and then we acted them out.

After that story example, I passed out yoga pose cards and the students worked in small groups to write their own story. We could have done this exercise for much longer than the time availabe. It was quite the hit last week.

In other classes, we'll get silly and try to pass a hula hoop around the group while everyone holds hands, pass a balloon using only their feet, or blow cotton balls across the floor.

I love the photo of the girl "meditating" in this post because I recognize the attitude and it could easily be one of my kids. Upper elementary school kids are starting to put up emotional walls as they near adolescence. Approval from peers becomes more and more important. When everything is working in yoga class, they get to let their guard down a bit and just be.

What is Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Tykes or preschool yoga class?

If you’ve never taken your 2-year-old to an Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Tykes or preschool yoga class, you might have trouble imagining what we do there. If you just don’t think your active toddler will stay on a yoga mat for 45 minutes, you are totally right and it’s totally ok! In Tykes yoga, we MOVE! We march; we hop; we skip; we gallop.

We do yoga poses, but that’s only part of the magic (and when you’re in a room full of preschoolers in warrior pose shouting “sunshine” at the top of their lungs, it is definitely magic). We act out stories like jungle safari or trip to the beach, using very little Sanskrit to describe the poses we are doing and no detailed alignment adjustments. Instead, we engage children in fun games as they explore their bodies and develop strength and coordination in the poses.

We embrace the kids where they are at: some are watchers who might wait for the safety of their own homes to break out what they saw in class; others want to do every pose and make up their own; still others may need to burn off steam running in circles in the room and might only join the group when we do their very favorites. For parents, Tykes yoga is very much an exercise in yogic parenting: releasing our attachment to particular outcomes and being present to this moment we have with our child. Of course, my husband says his favorite part of Tykes yoga class is, hands-down, legs-up-the-wall at the end (with bubbles for the little ones).

See my current class schedule to the right and come check it out for yourself!

For more on Itsy Bitsy Yoga, check out this interview with its creator, yoga teacher and child development specialist Helen Garabedian.

Why I love kids yoga

Last Wednesday morning, ten three-year-olds and I went on a trip. We packed our bags, took an airplane ride, went swimming on the beach, and went dancing in New York City, all without leaving their colorfully decorated classroom in Northwest DC.

Partial class plan for Planes, Trains and other Mobiles:

Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Tykes - Tree Pose

pack our bags

  • wash our clothes: twistee
  • dry our clothes: nahbi
  • hang them on the clothes line: half moon
  • iron the fancy stuff: moon toe
  • fold the shirts and pants: toes to nose
  • put everything in the suitcase: forward bend

pack the car: in-out breathing

drive to the airport: red light-green light x2 or x3

check our bags at the airport: ring around the yogi

airplane ride: play The Airplane Song: jump, spin, gallop, dance (Laurie Berkner)

visit the beach

  • make a sand castle: wide angle forward bend & variations
  • read book: sing These Are My Glasses (Berkner)
  • take a bicycle ride

train ride home

Sure yoga teaches patience and mindfulness and is a physical exercise that's good for kids, but it's also wildly fun. Join me in new classes this fall:

Mondays at Capitol Hill Yoga
Itsy Bitsy Yoga

  • 9:30 am – Tots, crawling to 2 years
  • 10:30 am – Tykes, 2-4 years

Register for my next Itsy Bitsy Yoga class session.

Contact me for more information about upcoming classes or join my mailing list by following the link or filling out the form to the right.

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Photo credit:
Preschooler demonstrates tree pose, a pose taught in Tyke Itsy Bitsy Yoga. Yoga Girl photo by Flickr user naturalmom / CC BY 2.0

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