New Classes!

Beginning in November, Natasha will be teaching two new classes at Sweet Peace Yoga in Kirkwood! 

All the Basics is this six week Siri's class with a drop in option. This class is geared for those who have a little familiarity with yoga and want to take their practice to the next level.

Slower is Stronger is a brand-new class inviting students to slow down your physical posture practice allowing space for mindfulness. This class incorporates the use of light handweights! A fun playful way to build long lean muscle while burning calories.

More detailed class descriptions and times can be found on the teaching schedule page. 

FitAbilities

By: Natasha Baebler

When I was first asked to organize and teach a trauma informed yoga program for students with visual impairments, I knew that the program would need to be unlike any other yoga class I’d taught to date. I had taught trauma informed yoga to adults. I had taught yoga to kids, even taught yoga to kids who are blind. Yet combining the two, the experience of trauma and blindness/visual impairment, was something that to my knowledge hadn’t been done before. 

The number one assumption people have made about the FitAbilities program has been that the students have experienced trauma or chronic stress due to their being blind or visually impaired. The reality is that the trauma and visual impairment are two unrelated entities that coexist in each child’s life experience, and thus need to be taken into account separately when designing a yoga program for this population. I as the instructor needed to teach to the blind or visually impaired child keeping his primary presenting disability at the forefront of my instructional techniques. So, If a child was struggling more with his trauma in class one day than the fact that he can’t see the yoga poses, I needed to address the trauma response first when teaching him, leaving instruction specific to his visual impairment on the back burner. 

The average yoga instructor might walk into a FitAbilities class and see a form of organized chaos. Not all of the students will be participating in the activity I as the instructor am leading. Yet to the level that she is able, each student will be engaged in the class. To give an example, one student would come sit on his mat at the beginning of class for the opening song and then spend the remainder of class kicking a soccer ball against the gym wall or shooting baskets. As the instructor, I brought all the students over to take turns shooting baskets and then if they missed (which they usually did since none of them could see the basket) they had to pick a yoga pose for everyone to do. After three weeks of looking like he wasn’t engaged in what I was teaching, this student drew a picture on his iPad of himself and his classmates on their yoga mats doing different yoga poses. He was able to tell his teacher who each figure represented and what yoga pose they were doing in the picture. Yet this student never did a single yoga pose in class. Clearly he was doing yoga. His yoga just looked different than the other students’ yoga. 

How the pose, or asana, looks is so much less important than how the asana feels for students with blindness and visual impairment in particular. Since this of us who practice yoga and are also blind experience the world through touch and sound, these senses also need to take precedence in how teachers teach students who are blind. Even a student with significant residual sight who is only given visual instruction or told to focus on how a pose looks to an outsider will not have a full experience of the pose because the experience is disconnected from how she experiences things in the rest of her life. Instructions need to be given through multiple modalities, need to be specific, descriptive, and related to familiar movements or tasks. It is not enough to substitute a visual demonstration of a pose with a tactile graphics or even a 3-D model. Students who are blind need more than just descriptive words as well. Believe it or not, there are blind people who are visual learners. For these students words are important, but don’t create the full picture. 

As with any student, be sure yo ask before touching a blind student. She may not mind being touched or having you move her body to a particular posture, but she is also most likely capable of moving her own body and certainly deserves the respect of her personal space. If you use what seems like descriptive language such as “reach your arms straight out off your shoulders” and the student with a visual impairment just stands there, he doest have a full picture of what his arms are supposed to be doing. Even more specific verbiage such as “let your arms hang down at your sides, now start to lift them away from your body out to the side until your hands feel as high as your shoulders” seems like a lot more words, but provides your student with a much clearer understanding of what he is to do with his arms in warrior two. Once his arms are out to the side in the correct position, you can become more specific about palms facing down, and move on to what other parts of the body are doing. 

Even some commonplace analogies may not have relevance for a student who has never seen them. When I teach airplane pose (warrior III), I pass around a small toy airplane to provide the students with a tangible reference of arm position like airplane wings. 

Perhaps the most important skill that is developed through yoga for students who are blind and visually impaired is their sense of proprioception - their awareness of where they are in space. This is a skill they use to navigate the world without sight. Learning to transition from simple poses like cat to cow and back or downward facing dog to upward facing dog can help strengthen a students proprioception. The key here is to start small with a single focus and work up to larger transitions. Unlike with sighted students whose first journey into yoga flows may be with a sun salutation, students who are blind will need to develop some basic proprioceptive skills before they are able to conceptualize what a transition from a forward fold to plank pose should feel like and how to move to get their body from chattering to downward facing dog. Simply telling them to lift their hips into the air from lying on their belly isn’t enough. 

If you as a teacher understand the anatomy and function of the poses you are teaching (i.e. downward facing dog is about length in the spine rather than in the hamstrings) you are one step closer to being able to provide meaningful instruction to a student who is blind or visually impaired. The more you hone your vocabulary, particularly movement-related adjectives, the more clearly you will be able to give instructions to all of your students without the need to physically demonstrate. The more familiar you are with words that describe how children move, the easier it will be for you to find a variety of ways to help a blind or visually impaired student find their version of any yoga pose you choose to teach them. 

Even more important than the language I use, or the manipulative I bring to class are the questions I ask. Asking a student how a pose feels is of extreme importance in developing a blind or visually impaired student’s sense of success and consistency in yoga. I can talk about a pose and how it should feel, but once a student feels that pose in his own body, he will remember where his body needs to go the next time you call for that pose. Perhaps more than with fully sighted students, blind yogis will repeat even uncomfortable poses in the name of doing them right if not given the opportunity to find a more “correct for your body” version and develop that into muscle memory. Once that lightbulb goes on and the student’s body clicks in to what the pose feels like, it will stick allowing them to return there again and again. This is why I’ve found this to be very important to tackle within the first time I teach a pose as muscle memory builds fast for people who are used to getting a majority of their environmental information through touch! 

So I challenge you, take a class with your eyes closed. Listen to the words the teacher uses. If you did’t already know what the pose being cued looked like, would you know from his or her words? Are you aware of how poses feel in your body. Close your eyes next time your in downward facing dog. Occasionally allow your sense of touch to guide your practice. It’s certainly taught me to be a stronger, more inclusive teacher.

*This article was first published in the Journal of Accessible Yoga Fall 2016.

Adaptive Yoga for Kids with Visual Impairments in Ferguson

It’s time to give a shout-out to a group of women making yoga accessible to a special group of kids in the Ferguson area.  Julie Johnson and Bonnie Lenz, teachers of the Visually Impaired with Special School District teamed up with Natasha Baebler, a legally-blind yoga instructor with a passion for adaptable yoga, to create the “Fit Abilities Program,” a once-a-week after-school program to teach yoga and mindfulness to kids with visual impairments.

Natasha and Julie took some time to talk about their program with me, and it is incredibly inspiring.

Read more: http://www.yogabuzz.org/adaptive-yoga-for-kids-with-visual-impairments-in-ferguson/

Stop and Listen

How often do we listen to what kids say? How often do you as an adult feel unheard? Daily? Maybe just once or twice a week? How often do you think this is for the kids in your life? Sometimes we as adults are so busy “teaching” our children that we forget to stop and listen to what they already know. Even less frequently do we listen to what they perceive. Yes, the minds of children learn fast. But that doesn’t mean we have to directly teach them everything. Sometimes they just need the chance to recognize what they already know. Sometimes they have things to teach us.

When was the last time you sat down with a child and let them tell you how they see their world? Have you ever asked a child to describe what she is seeing around her. When she does this, how quickly do you start talking-filling in the “gaps”?

What would happen if you let the “gaps” be? Let the child fill her own gaps. You may both discover something about the way she sees her world. The way she thinks. What she knows and who she is.

Children do not process as quickly as adults. Yet our fast paced world rarely gives a child the time she needs to really observe, process and then express what she has observed. We move children from thing to thing, topic to topic, subject to subject at an adult pace. Sometimes we say it’s because kids have short attention spans. Yes, they may have short attention spans, but they can also focus. Sometimes they just need to be given the opportunity.

I have a private yoga client who is the middle child in a family of six kids. His parents started him working with me because “he doesn’t pay attention” and they heard yoga was good for kids with ADHD. Yet, when I brought him into my yoga space, he was more attentive than some of my adult clients. After his first class, his mom asked me how he did. My response was to defer to my student. How did you think that went? His mom immediately started asking him question after question. I watched his attention drift to the kids playing down the street, to the dog barking, to everything but himself. The focused child I had in my studio not five minutes before was tuning out. “Matt, is there anything from yoga today that you want to share with your mom?” I asked. I was giving him the opportunity to a.) choose if he wanted to tell his mom anything, and b.) what he felt was most important to him from class. And then I waited. His mom started to ask another question, but I put my hand on her shoulder signaling her to remain quiet. After a minute, what my client said wasn’t anything we had talked about in the hour long lesson. He told his mom that he liked the knit pants he was wearing because they didn’t have a tag. The itch of the tag made him want to scratch and made it hard to think. Not only could my client identify something that was a frequent irritant, but he could articulate what about it bothered him and why.

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach our kids and should just leave them to figure it our on their own. There are things that need to be directly taught. But particularly when it comes to their perception of the world in which they live, children need to be heard. They need to know that they have observations, perceptions, experiences that are all their own. It is through learning how they see the world that they learn who they are. And we as the adults in their lives get to discover that right along side them. Yet it’s their journey;their discovery. Just as we as adults have our own.

Kids need to learn to process and problem solve, something they largely learn by doing and practicing. If we keep asking our children questions, keep telling them what they see, there comes a point where they can’t see or think through our chatter. They are neither able to hear what we are saying nor process their own thoughts on the subject. The line starts to blur between what they are seeing/perceiving and what they are being told someone else is seeing or perceiving. Then, they lose sight of their own through that of the other.

So how do we as adults help our children learn about their world and themselves? Easy, we ask one question and then we stop and listen. We encourage them to tell more; to describe. Even if you know you just have to tell them this one thing. Stop, and listen. Their sense of self depends on it.

BEYOND THANK YOU

HOW DO WE TEACH KIDS ABOUT GIVING AND BEING GRACIOUS?

WHAT BEHAVIORS DEMONSTRATE GRATITUDE?

From a young age we tell kids they need to say thank you when ever they receive something. Kids learn that the response to being given something whether a physical thing or a service is to say thank you. So they say thank you. Adults tell them they have good manners. But what if kids learned the meaning of thank you? Ask a child why we should be nice to friends or why we thank people when they do something nice for us and you will probably hear everything from “I don’t know” to “because it’s a good thing to do.” Mostly kids have learned to say thank you without connecting the words and actions to emotions.

As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, here are some ways to teach kids to connect the words ‘thank you’ with the action being performed and the feelings experienced by the people involved in the exchange. Remember to follow the activity with a discussion about how it made the kids feel!

Here are four activities to help kids learn to express and receive gratitude:

1. GROWING WALL OF GRATITUDE: This activity is great for right before or right after ‘The Secret Garden’ (this is what I call savasana in my kids’ yoga classes) or any quiet time. Take a huge poster board or long roll of craft paper and tack it up to a wall at a height all of the kids can reach. The bigger the better! Before class, cut out different shapes and colors of construction paper. Make sure they are large enough to write a sentence on. Give one piece of paper and a marker to each child either while they are in their Secret Garden or just at a quiet transition. Ask them to write down one thing that made them happy either in class that day or since the last class. Then have the kids attach their shape of happiness/gratitude to the poster using two-sided tape or adhesive squares. Each class, the kids can watch their gratitude for happy things grow.

2. THE COMPLIMENT TRAIN: This requires no supplies at all and is a great activity for when kids are gathered in a circle already. Ask the kids, one at a time, to give a genuine compliment to the person sitting to their right. I go clockwise just to make it easy for me to remember where we started. The kid receiving the compliment gets to practice being gracious and receiving compliments as well. The first child says “Joy, I like your shirt today with the butterfly,” and Joy responds with something like “Thanks for noticing the butterfly. Butterflies make me happy because of their colors.” Every child should have a chance to both give and receive a genuine compliment. Sometimes the receiving is harder than the giving!

3. YOGA THANK YOU CARD: Have kids decorate or create a thank you card for the person who brings them to Yoga class. Have them keep the card Yoga themed. Maybe they draw pictures of what they do at Yoga class. Maybe they write a story about how class makes them feel. Of course, if you don’t teach Yoga, you could use the class theme of your choice. Each child delivers their thank you card to the provider of their ride when that person picks them up from class. This teaches kids that little things, like driving them places, are things that other people do for them and how to show appreciation for the act. If your child doesn’t take Yoga (yet), she can theme the card to whatever activity to which she regularly needs a ride. Maybe it’s a card for her school bus driver!

4. “HOW WOULD YOU FEEL WITHOUT IT” GAME: This game can be played any time during the day. It is super fun if everyone is in a goofy, silly mood as you can come up with all kinds of wild things to fill in the blank! No supplies needed! Just ask the kids “what would you feel like without ___?” and fill in the blank with various everyday items or people. They will be surprised how different life would be without some of the things they consider “essential”. You may want to end with a discussion about how other people live without the items you all joked about and live with those feelings every day.

These activities can be adapted for almost any age. Even teenagers and adults love to know their efforts are appreciated. Sometimes receiving gratitude takes more practice than being thankful. Remember to always practice both!

5 GAMES TO IMPROVE COORDINATION

Coordination can be tricky, even for some adults! We all know, and perhaps we were, that kid who is just uncoordinated or klutzy. Yet coordination is something we can build as a young child and improve through the lifespan. Coordination building games can be great fun for the entire family and lead to much laughter and silliness! Here are five to get you started.

1. MUSICAL CHAIRS – This age old classic can really help with gross motor development and spacial awareness. Play it the traditional way with kid friendly chairs. When the kids get good at it, replace the chairs with mats, carpet squares, or “spots” on the floor. For an even more advanced version ask the kids to perform a yoga pose or other task when they get to a spot. They aren’t “safe” until they’ve completed the task! Not only can this game help kids improve their balance and reflexes, it teaches social skills like turn-taking.

2. ALPHABET MEMORY YARN TOSS – Buy a big ball of yarn at any craft store. The bigger and more brightly colored, the better! Start sitting in a circle on the floor or in chairs. One person starts by naming something that starts with the letter A. They then grab on to the end of the yarn and toss the rest of the yarn to someone across the circle from them. That person catches the ball of yarn and names something starting with the letter B. They then hold on to the yarn and toss the ball to someone else across the circle (not the person who tossed it to them!). That person names something starting with C etc. etc. With young kids this can be a great way to work on both coordination and alphabetic memory. With older kids the leader can pick a theme such as “things in winter” or “animals.” Each person then has to not only remember what letter they are on, but find an answer that fits the theme. The most advanced way to play this game is to stay with the same letter of the alphabet and the same theme until someone flubs and can’t come up with an answer. You can also put a time limit on answering such as five seconds. A medium size ball that bounces can be substituted for a ball of yarn for a lesser coordination level.

3. OBSTACLE COURSES – These can be great fun to both build and complete. Get as creative as you want. Use mats, chairs, blankets, foam/soft blocks, boxes, boards, jumprope and hula hoops! An obstacle curse for a very young child may be practicing stepping on or over different objects and surfaces. School age kids can practice heel-toe walking, stepping quickly on and off specific targets, crawling low under low-hanging “roofs”, or working in pairs or teams to get everyone through the course. Even tasks that seem easy like jumping from hula hoop to hula hoop can be made challenging for kids and adults alike by changing how they must travel from target to target (i.e. feet have to stay together, hop on one leg, etc.). This game helps build confidence, teamwork, spacial awareness and both fine and gross motor skills depending on the obstacles chosen.

4. HOOP HOP – This can be played with any object that is safe to land in or on while hopping. I suggest hula hoops or carpet squares with non-slip backing. First place the hoops in a straight line with edges touching. Hop from hoop to hoop without touching hands down, skipping any, or stepping on the hoops. After everyone has the idea with the hoops in a line, rearrange them into progressively challenging arrangements such as staggered positions, further apart, etc. Think of this as a changing version of hopscotch. Kids can jump on both feet or advance to hopping all the hoops on one foot without touching the other foot or their hands down! This can be loads of fun (and great on the abs too!) as the hoops move further apart! This game is great for eye-body coordination, spacial awareness, and gross-motor skills.

5. PLAY-DOH BALL-SNAKE PASS – This is best played in groups of three. All you need is a blob of Play-Doh for each group. The first person rolls the Play-Doh into a ball using only the palms of both hands. They then pass the ball of play-doh to another member of their group who must take it using both hands and NOT touching the other players fingers! The second player rolls the ball out into a long snake or string of Play-Doh and pass the snake onto the third player who has to take it, again not touching fingers. Player three uses only his palms to roll the snake back into a ball and passes the ball to player one. Player one rolls the ball back out to a snake and so on. When the kids get really good, they can try to do this one-handed! This game teaches bilateral coordination, turn-taking, patience, and fine-motor skills.

With a little modification, any of these games can work for kids young and old. Have very young kids? Try number five without passing the Play-Doh back and forth. Just rolling and unrolling the ball is great for motor skills and bilateral coordination. Have a house full of teenagers? Try musical chairs with their favorite music using chairs of different heights (boxes, bean bag chairs, kitchen chairs, mats, etc. Get their brains going as well as their bodies!) Seriously, what better time than the holidays to give family bonding through coordination building games a try? You’re already together. Make it fun AND grow while your at it!

The Yoga Octopus

At the end of each of my kids’ Yoga classes I say, “May the world be filled with love and light and lots of peaceful children.” But in today’s chaotic world, how do we help children experience peacefulness? How do we help kids live and internalize the lessons and feelings they experience in a Yoga class? I use the Yoga Octopus!

Photo by julos/iStock / Getty Images

Like an octopus, the practice of Yoga has eight limbs. Sometimes we call these limbs paths, or collectively “the eight-fold path.” The origin of this path is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. You are probably familiar with one of these limbs of Yoga, the physical postures or Asana. But, when I teach Yoga to children, I teach them more than the postures of Yoga. Every class includes other parts of and lessons from the eight limbs of Yoga.
My Yoga Octopus I share in my classes has eight arms. Attached to each arm is a word or phrase representing each of the components of the eight limbed path. These components are:
YAMAS: Universal Morality
NIYAMAS: Personal Observances
ASANAS: Body Postures
PRANAYAMA: Breath Control
PRATYAHARA: Control of the Senses
DHARANA: Concentration and Inner Awareness
DHYANA: Devotion and Meditation
SAMADHI: Union (with the Divine)

The first two limbs are the ethical outline of the practice of Yoga. They are suggestions and guidelines of how we should deal with ourselves and the people around us. The Yamas are the attitudes we have toward the people and things outside ourselves,  while the Niyamas are the ways in which we relate to our inner selves. The Yamas and Niyamas define our fundamental nature as compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful beings.

This brings us to the third limb, the most well known limb, and the path of Yoga most commonly practiced in the western world-Asana. The physical postures practiced in Yoga were created to move the body until it becomes ready for stillness. And in that stillness, our minds will be able to settle down, too. To that end, in kids’ Yoga classes, there is a lot of movement – jumping, rolling, spinning, and balancing are all used to get the children ready to relax at the end of class.

Prana is life and so Pranayama (the 4th limb)  is life breath or life’s energy. Breath and air can be a hard thing for kids to understand when they can’t see it. So help them understand by making it both visual and tactile. One fun activity to help kids understand the power of pranayama is to have breath-controlled ping-pong ball races. Lay out two long parallel lines of tape about five or six feet apart. Give each child a ping pong ball and a different color magic marker. Have them decorate their ball however they wish.Then have the kids lie down on their tummies along one of the lines facing the other line. Be sure there is enough room between each kid so that they aren’t blowing on their neighbor’s ball! Each child should place his ball just in front of his mouth. and nose and then clasp or interlace his fingers behind his back-no hands allowed! Now the game begins! Each child must control his breath to move his ball across the ‘finish line’. In playing tis game, kids can see their pranayama and experience the direct result of different strengths of breath. TIP: To make this game harder, use cotton balls or different color pompoms instead of ping-pong balls and make the lines farther apart.

Teaching Pratyahara,  control over the senses, to kids can be hugely beneficial in their social-emotional development. The word pratyameans drawing back while aharaalone means nourishment. So think of pratyahara as the drawing back from that which nourishes-the senses of the body. Kids growing up today are bombarded with so many stimuli that they can easily become overwhelmed, exhausted and overstimulated. Before we can actually teach kids to control their senses, they need to understand what it is to do so. Start by having kids identify their five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Then have them talk, draw, or write about the sense they use the most and how they use it. Have them try one everyday activity without this sense. If you are teaching pratyahara in the context of a movement or yoga class, have the kids try the same pose or movement without each of their five senses. How was the pose or movement effected?

Kids doing yoga poses together. (C)Kidding Around Yoga

Kids doing yoga poses together. (C)Kidding Around Yoga

As kids grow and mature, so does their sense of inner awareness-their knowledge about themselves. Dharana is the process of coming to that self awareness, discovering new things as we grow. Whether its in the classroom, at home, at the grocery store, or on the Yoga mat, kids and adults alike have a plethora of opportunities to increase their dharana through mindfulness and observation. Spend some time with a child just noticing and observing. Ask him questions about what he sees, hears, feels, tastes and smells. Ask about the physical and the emotional, likes and dislikes. Explore the reasons he holds those likes and dislikes without trying to change his opinion. Hear and acknowledge his observations about himself rather than validating them. The other part of dharana is concentration; focus on the task at hand, the present moment, the role of the self in the current experience. Craft activities can be a great way to build focus while at the same time helping to develop a child’s fine motor skills and self-expression. The completion of a craft project requires a child to focus on what he is doing rather than what is going on around him. He is able to experience being in his own body, in the present moment.

As a child becomes more self-aware and able to concentrate, she also grows toward meditation and devotion, or Dhayana. The goal of meditation is not thinking about nothing at all, it is to make the thoughts conscious. Meditation is something that becomes much easier with practice and kids catch on quickly! Meditation can be as simple as picking something to think about. With kids, I often encourage them to think about their happiness place. The place where they want to be more than anywhere else in the whole world. I ask them to think about that place and only that place. Not just the name of it, but it’s sights, sounds, smells, and textures. I encourage them to let these pieces of this favorite place fill their mind until there is no room for anything else. There is no room for worry or sadness, only happiness associated with their favorite place. Once kids experience the state of peace that comes with meditation, they want to experience it again and again for longer stretches of time. Maybe their first mental visit to their favorite place lasts just two minutes. Eventually it might last ten! The first time they visit their favorite place in their mind, you may need to ask lots of questions about the place to guide them there. As they visit again and again, slowly fade out the questions until they can reach their favorite place just by being prompted to go there. That’s dhayana.

All of this growth, self-awareness, mental work, and physical practice help us travel on a journey. That journey moves us ever closer to one state – the ultimate – the eighth limb of Yoga – Samadhi or union. All of Yoga brings kids (and adults) closer to this experience of oneness where we recognize ourselves in others, and in the divine. Here’s where the waters can get muddy. ‘Union with the divine’ is where some people find the misconception of Yoga being linked to a religious or spiritual practice. This misconception leads many kids’ Yoga teachers to call their classes things like “movement and breath learning”. The word “divine” has been linked to words like ‘God’ for centuries. We as Yoga teachers aren’t going to change that. What we can do is work to demystify the yogic context of divine. In my kids’ Yoga classes, ‘divine’ is a feeling. “I feel divine.” Meaning “I feel peaceful. I feel happy. I feel euphoric.” To unite with the divine then is to become one with the feelings of happiness and peace. That is not that we experience only happiness, but that we allow these feelings to fill us completely when we do experience them. To let these feelings take over the moment in which we experience them. Kids are great at this! They scream, cry, and laugh in sheer delight. Encourage it!! This is an expression of living in unity with the divine. A child who is grinning from ear to ear is experiencing her moment of Samadhi.

Want to do an entire unit on the Yoga Octopus? Just devote a couple of classes to each limb of the eight-fold path. Find and print coloring pages featuring an octopus. Label each of the octopus’ legs with one of the paths and have color in part of the leg representing the path they worked on that day in class. At the end of the unit, they have a great visual take-home to remind them there are many parts that make up one yoga, one peaceful union, one world made up of peaceful children.

Just Breathe

It’s been with you since the moment you were born. You do it every day, mostly without thinking. It’s something so powerful that it is fundamental to and synonymous with being alive. Yet no one has probably ever taught you how to do it. No one probably ever thought they needed to teach it. 

Your breath.

It’s just there. 

Or is it? 

Perhaps the better question is, “should it just be there?” 

We don’t teach our children how to breathe. Why not? For most of us, it’s probably something we didn’t think we needed to teach. After all, we do it without thinking. But at what cost? What are we missing by letting our breath be unconscious? What would happen if we made breathing more conscious, more mindful. Something we don’t just do because our brains and lungs make us inhale and exhale but something we do to enrich our lives, to cope with a hectic out-of-our-control world.

What would happen if we taught our children to breathe? Then they taught their children? Teaching breath work could, and perhaps should, be as important as teaching a child to add two plus two. 

Our breath is powerful. When we slow the breath down, elongate the inhale and the exhale, we notice things about ourself, about the world in which we live. By changing the pattern of our breath we can soothe, calm, renew, refresh, energize, and most importantly, self-regulate. Teaching a child to breathe can increase their resilience. By learning how to breathe, a child will know he always has control of something in his chaotic world. No one can take away his control of his breath. Control over his breath will help him have control over his feelings. Having control over his feelings will help him have control over his actions. 

So try this right now, sit up tall and draw your thoughts to your breath. Is it slow and steady, quick and shallow. When you are angry, your breath probably becomes shallower, more rapid. When you sleep or are fully relaxed, your breath is probably slower and more even.  Now as you inhale, count to four (1-2-3-4), pause (1), exhale (1-2-3-4-5-6), pause (1) repeat. Notice that your mind must focus on counting the parts of the breath and thus can’t focus on anything else. This is just one example of mindful breathing. 

By teaching our children to breathe, we give them a tool that is not only powerful, but readily available.  They never have to worry about forgetting their breath at home when they encounter an unexpected stressful situation. 

So yes, we need to teach our children to breath. We need to show them the power they have in that breath. We should teach them to breathe. To use their breath as a tool just like we might teach them to use a hammer, or a ruler. By teaching our children to breathe, we are teaching them so much more than to inhale and exhale. We’re teaching them how to be alive, to live, to cope, to manage, and to be mindful.

* This post was first published on the Kidding Around Yoga blog on 10/15/15  http://kiddingaroundyoga.com/blog/children-breathe-practice/

Looking to Unwind?

Hey Hey it's Memorial Day weekend! Summer is just around the corner! This weekend will be filled wit fun, food, family, friends, and flexibility! Yes I have yoga classes to add to your weekend fun. Sunday

12 Noon Slow Flow at Namaste

4pm Yin Yoga at Sweet Peace

Monday

6am Morning Flow at Sweet Peace

6:15pm Yoga Basics at Sweet Peace

Grab your mat and come get out of the wet weather!

Introducing the "Commit to You Card" Pre-paid Yoga Program

The best way to fully experience the benefits of yoga is to make a commitment. So Yogapath St. Louis is proud to introduce the "Commit to You" pre-paid class card program. The way it will work is each student will purchase a class card for 5, 10, or 20 classes at a time. Cards will be your class pass and paid in full in advance. Each time we have class it could be a private or have up to five students. This would be an "open" class. A student's price won't change based on the number of students in their open class.

If a student wanted a "closed" class or a class that is guaranteed to be private or semi-private with 1-2 other known students, this would not be eligible for a class card and would be subject to standard Yogapath St. Louis private/semi-private pricing.

Terms and conditions of class cards. 1. Students must pre-register/pre-schedule for class. 2. No-shows forfeit that class - make-ups are not offered for no-shows. 3. Students are held to a 24-hour cancelation policy and will loose a class if canceled in less than 24-hours except in special emergency circumstances approved by YSTL staff. 4. If the instructor must cancel class, 24-hours notice will be given at minimum and class will be rescheduled for the same week if possible. 5. Class cards may not be shared between students. 6. No refunds for any reason.

Pricing for class cards: 5 open classes: $80 (expires 2 months after purchase) 10 open classes: $140 (expires 4 months after purchase) 20 open classes: $240 (expires six months after purchase)

For now, class cards must be purchased in person with cash or check. Credit cards accepted with an additional $2.50 processing fe per transaction.

The preliminary open class schedule will be released soon.

We are super excited to offer this common package deal! As always, if you have any questions, please let us know!

All are welcome on the mat.

 

Namaste.