I’ve always considered myself to be a generalist, of sorts. For example, I resisted specializing in environmental policy, already quite specialized, and chose communications instead of a particular policy focus.
Well, that was another lifetime, but recently, I’ve described my yoga teaching as covering the entire prenatal-to-death spectrum. I teach toddlers, preschoolers, school-age kids, adults, prenatal, postnatal . . . but I’m finally thinking I need to specialize, at least a little bit.
My father has always said, “If you want to know what someone wants to do, just watch what they do.”
Then I had a kid
and then, even worse, I made one of my hobbies into my day job.
I watched many NaBloPoMos, Blogher’s challenge to post every day in November, pass without signing up. This year, in an effort to force myself to create fresh written content for Breathing Space Family Yoga, I signed up. In a fit of madness, I signed this blog up too.
So far, the posting her has been minimalist, but I’ve got some ideas . . . In the mean time, enjoy what I’ve been posting on yoga:
It’s a standing pose introduced in most beginners yoga class, yet its
classic form and variations continue to challenge me years after first
encountering it. Uttita Parsvakonasa (extended side angle pose) is one
of my favorite asana (postures) and I teach it in nearly all classes
from beginner, to early morning open, to prenatal. . . . more
“What do you do all day?” is one of the most common questions about or kids yoga day off camps. No, we don’t do yoga for 7.5 hours.
We do lots of yoga and yoga games, but that’s not all. We’ll do
arts and crafts every day. If the weather is nice, we walk to a
nearby playground for lunch and outdoor time. We have quiet time
every day for both nappers and non-nappers. . . . more
After A Few Months:
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.
What your answer and mine probably have in common is that heros tend to be people who have consciously decided to contribute their energies to positive change in the world. That is also my definition of Karma yoga.
Yogis toss the work Karma around quite a bit. The popular notion of karma as “what goes around, comes around” isn’t quite it. Different religions and philosophical systems have different interpretations of the same basic concept of the energetic impact of your life’s actions, but in yoga, karma as selfless service is one of the possible paths to enlightment:
The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning ‘to do’. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action.
Not all of us are prepared to dedicate our entire lives to a cause, but we can all consiously decide how we want to participate in the world.
Need a little more inspiration? In honor of Mahatma Ghandi’s 143 birthday, MC Yogi posted a video tribute:
The Power of We
That’s the theme of this year’s Blog Action Day, an annual event designed to “unite the world’s bloggers by posting about the same issue on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.”
“The Power of We is a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around he world.”
Ideas for Taking Action: Democracy Requires Participation
You might have heard that this is an election year in the United States. The next 4 years of executive branch governence, the entire U.S. House of Representatives, and 1/3 of the U.S. Senate offices are up for election. Not only that, countless state and local races for state and city government, school board, and more will affect our lives in sometimes very immediate ways.
In DC, for example, nearly half of the city schools lost their librarians to budget cuts this school year. Last spring, DCPS cut staff funding for librarians at all small elementary schools, those with fewer than 300 students. Some schools were able to fund their librarian out of their general budget, others used PTA fundraising money to support their libraries, but that still left 57 schools without librarians. All summer, parents volunteers have been working hard to get funding restored and to make this an election season issue. Mayor Grey, who directly oversees the school system, is not on the ballot but the city council and “State” Board of Education members for Wards 2, 4, 7 & 8 and At Large members are. What do you know about your candidates?
Perhaps learning about your election candidates seems like a small thing, but as a concious decision, it is karma yoga.
Want to do more? Consider going door to door for candidates to get out the vote. Distressed that DC doesn’t have a vote in Congress and our presidential election outcome is not really in question? Virginia is considered a swing state in the presidential contest and Maryland often has hotly contested congressional races . . .
Hatha Yoga and Karma Yoga
How about free yoga for doing good? Lululemon is sponsoring election day yoga classes around the DC metro area, including my 6:30 am class at Capitol Hill Yoga. So get up early, get your yoga on, and hit the polls before the crowds.
Read More Power of We Posts
Moms Clean Air Force Embraces the Power of We – Moms Clean Air Force invites you to join them.
The Power of We: A Blogger’s Musings – Strocel.com talks about how taking a stand is stepping out of her comfort zone.
Blog Action Day: “The Power of We – The White House blogs about their very cool “We the People” tool which allows anyone to petition the president directly.
Are 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.
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 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.
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!
Tuition of $180 includes:
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.
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.
Right 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
The 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
I am so excited to begin sharing the Yoga 4 Classrooms program in the Washington, DC area this fall.
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
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.
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.
If you haven't been keeping up with me over at Jen Mueller Yoga, you might have missed the following:
. . . Over many years, yoga has affected my entire life, but in the beginning, that's not why I practiced. When I first started regularly attending an Ashtanga-inspired class at my gym on Tuesday nights, it was to keep me on the road so I could finish a marathon in the fall of 2001.
Back when I started running (which I did when signing up for said marathon) and over the first few years, I was diagnosed with a laundry list of runners' injuries. My ailments included shin splints, plantar faciiitis, patella femoral syndrome, chondromalacia . . .
Check out my Yoga for Runners workshop at Capitol Hill Yoga next Saturday (discounted registration ends 3/24.)
. . . 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. . .
. . . Preliminary research on child-specific benefits include reduced problem behavior, test anxiety, and anger and increased feelings of well-being, self-regulation, and focus. . . .
My primary reason for getting on the yoga mat has nothing to do with what happens on that 12-or-so square feet of foam or rubber and everything to do with what happens off of it. I’m what’s known in yoga circles as a “householder,” a student of yoga for whom the practice supports her engagement in the wider world.
Yoga makes it easier for me to interact with my work, my relationships, my (sometimes strong-willed) 4 year old, and life in general in a way that reflects my core values. Yoga makes me happier, stronger, more energetic, more optimistic, more flexible, and more patient.
Over many years, yoga has affected my entire life, but in the beginning, that’s not why I practiced. When I first started regularly attending an Ashtanga-inspired class at my gym on Tuesday nights, it was to keep me on the road so I could finish a marathon in the fall of 2001.
Back when I started running (which I did when signing up for said marathon) and over the first few years, I was diagnosed with a laundry list of runners’ injuries. My ailments included shin splints, plantar faciiitis, patella femoral syndrome, chondromalacia . . .
The orthopedist took x-rays and referred me to physical therapists. The podiatrist made me custom orthopedic shoe inserts and referred me to physical therapists. The physical therapist was fascinating: she hooked me up to electrical shock machines and taught me a bunch of exercises to do at home.
My podiatrist and and the guy at the shoe store agreed that I needed motion control shoes (with the custom inserts) to prevent excess outward pronation of my feet and compensate for my low arches. The right shoes are definitely important, but I still credit my yoga practice for keeping me on the road.
The poses in my weekly yoga classes strengthened the parts of the body that running neglected and stretched the parts of the body that running tightened. The emphasis on breath helped focus my mind and, like running, reduced my stress level and improved my mood. While learning to engage my muscles to properly align my bones, I discovered a body awareness that translated off the mat onto the road and has subtly and not so subtly affected my running form and stride . . . and eventually my bio-mechanics.
Last summer after a short running hiatus, my shins started bothering me again. When new versions of my old running shoe weren’t available, I went back to the shoe store for advice. As all good running shoe salespeople should, the clerk watched me run before suggesting shoes. It turns out that after decade of yoga, I had re-patterned my movement style. My feet, ankles, and shins can keep proper alignment all by themselves, without motion control shoes or custom orthotics.
While I can’t promise you won’t need orthotics if you come to my Yoga for Runners workshop (March 31, 2:30-4:30pm, Capitol Hill Yoga), I can promise to show you some of my favorite preventative therapeutics and how yoga poses target common runner problem areas.
photo credit: stretching runner by flickr user lululemon athletica/creative commons