Great resources for teaching yoga to kids

Through my experience teaching Kindergarten – 4th graders yoga and sharing yoga with my two daughters, I feel like I now have a better understanding of how to share yoga with children. Yoga helps kids learn a nourishing and fun way to quiet their minds, exert excessive energy, connect with their bodies and breathe.

I’ve found that using animal and shape based naming conventions for the poses plus providing lots of opportunities for the kids to make sounds and giggle makes yoga more kid friendly. Meditation jars, singing bowls and bells are great props as well.

These 3 books are my favorite resources for ideas and providing visuals for the kiddos:

goodnightyoga

Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story by Mariam Gates (Author), Sara Jane Hinder (Illustrator) -> My 3.5 year old daughter loves reading this book. We practice the poses page by page. It’s marketed as a bedtime storybook but we use it anytime.

Yoga Pretzels (Yoga Cards) by Tara Guber (Author), Leah Kalish (Author), Sophie Fatus (Illustrator) -> These cards are great when teaching a group of kids, one-on-one or self-led sessions. Plus there are cards dedicated to breathing exercises and games. yogapretzels

yogaforchildrenYoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children by Lisa Flynn -> A pretty comprehensive kids yoga book (adult audience) including a bit of yoga philosophy and lots of poses, games, breathwork and meditation.

My Yoga Playlists

Music is a very important part of my life. Growing up you’d often find me with my headphones on, meditating on the lyrics or moving to the beat. So it is only natural that my yoga playlists reflect that aspect of my personality. I put a lot of time and energy into curating the right mood and flow to match my asana sequencing and theme. Below are four of my playlists (65 minutes each) currently in rotation:

  • Spring – I’ve been listening to more Yo-Yo Ma and cellist Dana Leong lately. I admit as soon as I heard Janelle Monáe had a new song entitled ‘Yoga’ I knew it would make it to my playlist. Plus I’m loving everything Hozier and James Blake.

Yoga - 65 min spring mix

  • Pop mix – Some teachers think it’s a sign of distraction when students start singing along to song lyrics during a class. However, I love it. I have very fond memories of times when one of my favorite songs came on at a yoga studio and the emotional connection my body and mind made. I try to balance out the “well known” songs with lots of instrumental or world music so students have a chance to let go too. After almost every class where I play Lokua Kanza someone asks who the artist was. His voice is so moving.

Yoga - 65 min pop mix

  • R&B/African mix – R&B is actually one of my favorite genres of music for my personal yoga practice. Plus I went through a huge Nico & Vinz phase last year. The last two Miles Davis songs and ‘in a sentimental mood’ always leave me feeling thoughtful yet at peace.

Yoga - 65 min R&B African

  • Reggae/Pop mix – Staying true to my West Indian roots, I also flow to reggae music. These songs by Damian Marley, Bob Marley, DJ Drez, Matisyahu and Sade go well with my teaching style. PS the Gordon Hempton track is 24 minutes of nature sounds – I play 5 minutes worth during savasana.

Yoga - 65 min Reggae Pop

Comment below to share your favorite songs for yoga flow.

Yoga while traveling: practicing yoga in Italy and the San Francisco airport

The hubby and I spent an amazing two weeks in Italy. Beautiful sites, amazing coffee and food. I was not able to get in any running (not of fan of running on cobblestones, hills or winding streets). But I was able to get in lots of yoga and useage of my Manduka’s eKO SuperLite Travel Mat. Here’s how I fit in yoga while traveling:

  • Airports: I have not worked up the gumption to practice in the waiting areas, so I was very excited to use San Francisco’s airport yoga room. It made a 4-hour layover a calmer experience. The room decor is peaceful, quiet and warmly lit. My only complaint is that there is little air circulation, you will build up a sweat faster than normal. I compensated by practicing a gentler/slower flow so I didn’t have to spend the next 12-hour flight smelling 😉

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  • Hotels/Airbnb: Most of our hotel rooms were super tiny while our Airbnb apartment rentals were spacious. However the hotel rooms provided even flooring and good wall space for inversion practice. Although the Airbnb rentals were big they tended to have the beautiful but slightly awkward stone flooring – Try practicing downward facing dog when your left foot is a few inches higher than your right because of stone size/placement.
  • Yoga studios: The internet makes finding a local yoga studio really easy. I searched for Ashtanga based studios because I would be familiar with the sequence and use of Sanskrit poses. We practiced at Florence’s ‘It’s all yoga Firenze‘. Although the teacher did some translating, Sanskrit created a common language among the English and Italian speakers.

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  •  Outdoors: While in Assisi we went for a walk around Eremo delle Carceri (where St. Francis would go to commune with nature & God). It was secluded and peaceful. I found a spot and practiced a few poses, then meditated.

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 How do you fit in your yoga practice while traveling?

A mantra for mothers

IMG_4241My morning meditation and start of a new 40-day mantra practice. I’ve been trying to see myself as someone who is already a mother, instead of getting stuck in the “one day” loop. As we wait for our foster-to-adoption home study finalization, I decided to chant a mantra focused on motherhood 108x a day.

This mantra honors different qualities often found in mothers: Sita = dedication & self-sacrifice; Radhe = devoted love; Kali = fierce warrior & courier of change; Durga = Ultimate protector. I already had the perfect guides set up on my altar – pictures of my paternal & maternal grandmothers and the path to Bahjí.

Jaya Jagatambe, Sita Radhe. 

Kali Durga, Namo Namah.

Victory to the mothers of the world, Sita and Radhe. Kali and Durga, I bow to you.

My 2015 Race Schedule

2014 held a light race schedule for me because of injuries and moving across the country. Sadly, I had to cancel my 2014 NYC marathon entry which was expensive but I have guaranteed entry for 2015 now. This year (Mungu akipenda) I’m looking forward to getting back to my marathon running self.

May 2 – American River Parkway Half Marathon – Sacramento, CA

July 11 – Davis Moonlight Race 10K – Davis, CA

August 30 – Buffalo Stampede 10M – Sacramento, CA

Oct 4 – Urban Cow Half Marathon – Sacramento, CA

Nov 1 – New York City Marathon – New York City

Nov 26 – Run to Feed the Hungry 10K – Sacramento, CA

Dec 6 – California International Marathon – Sacramento, CA (**still debating**)