UPDATE: Due to the COVID-19 and Australian Health guidelines this event has been postposed to later in 2020.. Please come back and check my Schedule here. In the meantime please enjoy some of the suggestions I have in this blog with your children and teenagers at home.
This month I decided to share a teen tip with you especially with my upcoming Teen Training in Brisbane April 17-19 at One Family Yoga & Fitness.
One of the things I have noticed with my teen students is the absolute necessity to have FUN with them. I think we can get easily forget that even in their rapidly changing body and increased level of responsibility in their lives is a ‘Child’ that wants to have fun – don’t we all actually! This is one of the reasons that I always make laughter and fun an essential ingredient in my class!
Recently we played a memory game which I figured would help them explore their ability to focus and memorize what they saw before them. Also indirectly a different way of enhancing their skills to study for exams! What was really sweet was how they seemed excited at the prospect of playing the game and at the same time became nostalgic with one another about when they were tweenies and loved doing this together!
What you need and how to play
With Valentine’s day approaching you may begin to feel that love is in the air. Being able to guide children to love each and every part of themselves is paramount to their well being for me! It my hope that when they can accept all the changes and transformations they experience with gentleness it can enable them to cultivate greater kindness for themselves and others around them.
I see children almost like butterflies who go through the delicate but powerful process of emerging and continue their ongoing process of growth and transformation. Most importantly for me I hold a deep desire and commitment to remind them of their unique beauty, true nature and just how amazing they really are!
In my first class this term with new students we travelled into the garden to see what we could discover which is always fun! I asked them to describe what colour they would be if they were a butterfly which is always delightful. Milla pictured here with her butterfly was a newbie to class and I was reminded of how special it is when you have new students who fall in love with the newness of the experience they are having and remind you of that special quality.
We finished our class with a fun creative activity where you provide one side of the butterfly and ask them to mirror and draw the design on the other side. This is a great way to relax, build concentration and also offers the challenge to be able to replicate the design as a mirror image. Of course you can also give another option of creating your butterfly from scratch too!
What you need:
Children are almost like butterflies of differing types - size, shape, colour and marks, some are heavier and others are lighter.... the thing they seem to have most in common is a willingness to transform moment to moment, demonstrate courage as they fly and giggle as they attempt it.........What an inspiration they truly are !!!! Karen.
This is a mindfulness activity that I have generally practiced with preteens.
Recently I decided to try it on my younger yogis in a mixed age class of 5-10 years. I was surprised to see how much they loved it and were sitting so quietly and patiently waiting for their turn.
The purpose of activity is too slow down mentally and physically bringing awareness to having a slower approach to life.
Materials required – a miniature turtle/metal/clay or ceramic – small pouch of bag to place it in.
How to facilitate it – Get everyone seated in a circle and explain that the focus of this circle time is to ‘slow down’. When we begin to slow things we begin to become more aware of the little things in life that we may have not noticed when we are rushing around and not paying attention.
Begin to pass the pouch with the turtle inside around the circle. Ask the students to remain silent for this part of the activity as each one holds the pouch. Give them a few moments to feel and guess what is inside the pouch but ask them not to share what they think it is until the whole group has had a go.
Now invite them to share what they thought it could be – then reveal the turtle and place it in the centre. This is the perfect time to talk about how we feel when we are rushing compared to when we take our time to do things slowly in a more calm and relaxed manner.
This type of reflection can be wonderful to invite into our lives at the end of a busy year when children in particular start to get tired.
After all, slow and steady wins the race!
Living in the northern hemisphere gets me a little more festive I have to say. It must be the combination of the night’s drawing in early afternoon and all the fantastic TV Christmas ads we get here! On the theme of stars I thought it would be nice to create your own personal yoga Xmas tree cards this year with your students or family. Why not add a fabulous star on top and decide who are the stars in your life and gift them to friends, grandparents or whoever you would like to. There is after all nothing quite like a handmade card filled with love ☺.
What you need:
Simply fold your piece of paper in half to make your card. See if you can remember what you look like when you are doing the tree pose or ask a friend or parent to do the pose to remind you. Sketch yourself doing the pose and think of what yoga clothes you might like to wear. Imagine holding a big star in your hands and putting your chosen ‘Rockstar’s’ name inside. Imagine how surprised your special star will be to receive a ‘personalized yoga xmas card’.
Have fun creating and making - remembering to fill it up with LOVE!
In Creative Yogis kids yoga we're not into hacks... we're into The Fizz!
Through a series of short videos I am sharing with you my simple tips on how to improve connection and delivery of kids yoga, especially with the littlies.
This video is how to bring their attention back to the pose and your instruction.
It's as simple as a clap!
Watch video here.
Listening is an art form which does not come naturally to most of us if we are honest and is something we have to continuously practice. This next activity has turned out to be one of my student’s favourite games here in Australia and apparently has also been gaining increasing popularity around the globe. It is adapted from a traditional Indian game called ‘Watch the Cat’ taken from ‘Yoga Education’ a book from Swami Satyananda of the Bihar School of Yoga. I have made this into a story telling game where the teacher creates the short story whilst the children are lying like sleeping cats relaxing on their sides.
How to facilitate
Explain to the students they are listening to the adventure of a cat who has a best friend who is a mouse. Each time they hear the word ‘Mouse’ they have to spring onto their hands and knees and ‘meow’ like a cat! Afterwards they immediately return to being sleeping cats again and have to carry on listening mindfully as the story continues.
Here is the story of cat and mouse to share with your children at home or students in class
‘My name is Zapper the cat and I’m a ginger tomboy, well actually I am a little bit brown as well if I am honest. Today is my best friend’s birthday party, he is turning 4 years old and I am super excited. By the way did I tell you he’s a cockroach no don’t be silly he’s a mouse! (everyone springs onto all fours and meows like a cat and you say – great listening guys now go back to sleep.
At the moment I am trying to think of what to buy him for his birthday this year. Well I was thinking of a back pack as he loves to go on day trips or even perhaps a sketchbook as he is such a fantastic artist and loves to draw. Umm it is tricky but then I spotted a really fun hat that is perfect for his day’s out…..umm which one to buy…maybe the parrot….or the giraffe was super fun with the long neck but then I decided on the mouse! (great listening everyone back to sleeping cats again)
The next thing I have to decide on is what snack to take to the party as it’s bring a plate. First I thought maybe some crackers, then I saw some chocolate ants, but what about fried grasshoppers, so many choices…then I found the perfect thing to take lumps of cheese in the shape of a mouse…(you guys have been such fantastic listeners today, great job everyone and now we are going to lay down for relaxation)
This game cultivates listening and teaches children how it feels to relax and then be vigilant as they spring to action. It can offer a great transition into relaxation and even better continue the relaxation further by adding colour to a picture of Zapper and Mouse by downloading your free colouring sheet here. Colouring in increases self-expression, colour recognition, focus, calm and builds fine motor skills.
The storytelling and free download of our accompanying colouring page of 'Zapper the Cat and Mouse' is here.
And more FREE DOWNLOADS of Creative Yogis kids yoga colouring pages are here.
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Community, collaboration and kindness are certainly some of the ingredients that can help to create balance and harmony anywhere in the world.
I chose to make ‘Acts of Kindness’ a theme for our class recently and we began in circle sharing how we could show kindness to others. One student shared how she likes to include others when she plays a game and another how she thinks taking time to listen is showing kindness to. As always treasured times of sharing where we learn together the precious language of our hearts.
Artistic collaboration is always deeply enriching and I decided we would form our own unique ‘Aussiedala’ with love and peace at the centre. Sitting with a group of children some of who were originally from other corners of the globe but now call here home we share a common connection.
I found a map of Australia in an art store recently which gave me the idea for this activity and to appreciate this amazing land. I asked the students to colour and decorate in a way that made them feel happy and reflected how we felt about our home. In the centre I drew a peace symbol and place the universal symbol of love the heart around it.
Why not think about creating love, joy, happiness, harmony and peace with a mandala of where your home is?
What you need and how to do it
This is a great opportunity to teach students another interpretation of ‘Union’ and share the true essence of Yoga.
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The character of a monkey is playful and cheeky, and they love to move and swing from branch to branch. We teach our students about the ‘monkey mind’ at times, and we call it this because the mind is like a monkey - busy jumping from thought to thought.
A fun activity that can help to occupy and calm the monkey mind is a ‘double doodling’ exercise. The benefits of this are not only the sheer enjoyment and concentration, but this exercises both sides of the brain as it uses the non dominant hand.
How to do it
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We all get a bit grumpy from time to time let’s be honest.
So when our children are feeling angry or upset it is healthy to be able to recognise these emotions, whilst also learning that we can actually diffuse them by becoming aware of them and trying different tools.
A glitter calming jar can do just that. It is both a visual and interactive tool for children to use. You may want to get a plastic jar to make the recipe, then shake it up and offer it to your child to focus their attention on the glitter as it slowly makes it way to settle on the bottom of the jar. I find it's both soothing and calming to my mood too!
What you need and how to do it
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The start of the year is a wonderful time to reflect on last year and set clear intentions for the coming year. One intention I always finish my classes with is to wish all beings on our planet - Peace.
I teach my students that peace begins on the inside, and that when we find that feeling we can share it with everyone around us.
When you visit temples in different cultures you can often see colourful flags attached to different parts of the structure that are infused with prayers that are being gently blown out into the world by the wind – with the intention of creating a ripple of peace.
I love the decorative nature of these flags and thought it would be lovely to let children create their own unique version of these too with simple materials.
In the process of creation we are accessing that part of ourselves that inspires a sense of peace and calm at the same time – how perfect!
What you need and how to do it:
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Karen Wightman is the founder of Creative Yogis. She is an experienced, local and international children’s yoga instructor, yoga teacher trainer, and children’s art teacher.
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