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.
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
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:
As you may have noticed we are crazy about toes in Yoga as we see this to be our connection to the earth. So why not have some fun with your toes and celebrate just how awesome they are!
Pom poms – I have to be honest I am a fan, I love the colours, texture and the endless simple fun you can have with them. On the theme of connection why not have some family fun using your toes.
What you need and how to do it
When things get a little hectic in the holiday season – why not practice one of our favourite calming and balancing poses the ‘tree pose’.
All children love this pose and what is great is if you can get them to see if they can count how long they can hold it for – the longer they can balance the calmer they will be.
Make sure they focus on something that isn’t moving to help them balance.
To finish take a short ‘Santa relaxation ‘– making sure that he will have lots of energy to be able to deliver all the wonderful treats that he has for children everywhere.
After Santa relaxation a wonderful extension of this calm space is to imagine how they would look if they were a Christmas tree and how they might decorate themselves.
After drawing themselves in the tree pose they can begin to create themselves sparkling with lots of fabulous decorations.
Simple creative tools – Paper, pencils, colour pencils or textas and maybe some glitter pens or gold and silver.
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I found this photo recently and it reminded me of the wonderful holiday I had with my family in the Maldives a few years ago, and where a daily yoga practice for Mum and Dad became a must.
Adjusting to the heat meant that ‘legs up the wall – or Viparita Karani’ was a great accompaniment to an after lunch nap ☺.
A pose that calms the nervous system, reduces swelling in the legs and gives the heart a gentle massage. And as we get closer to the end of the year we may even travel to see family and when we arrive we may just want to ‘put our feet up to relax’ at the other end.
So why not share the love and teach this to Dad’s and Grandparents – just make sure if they have tight hamstrings that they bend their knees a little and get them nice and comfy.
Make sure you remind them to relax and breathe, and most importantly, enjoy the pose.
Wishing you a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season with your family.
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As you may know by now we love to combine both creativity and Yoga. We are passionate about cultivating a place of quiet reflection to be with ourselves. To take a moment out from the busyness that can be life. We continually witness the impact of practicing deep relaxation in our students and how this transfers so peacefully into creative expression to become mindfulness in action.
It has always been a dream of ours to create a series of accessible educational resources that would be available as a tool for parents and educators, to share with either their children or students. This began with our Creative Yogis colouring book that was created 3 years ago.
We have spent many years offering Mandala colouring pages to our students which have always been met with great enthusiasm. 'Mandalas' are a repetitive design within a circle or forming a circle and have been used by many cultures as a tool for meditation, therapy and as a way to simply unwind and de-stress.
Two years ago we had an idea to combine the shape of Yoga poses in each design so you could relax and enjoy your creative expression and when you felt like a break jump up and do the pose!
It is so very exciting as we have finally brought that idea to fruition and would like to introduce our latest offering ‘Yogadalas’ - 13 unique designs that each centre around a particular pose and combine to create a Yoga sequence just for you. We hope you enjoy colouring them as much as we did creating them for you and are keen to see your response!
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Mindfulness is cultivating the ability to have present moment awareness. In simple terms this means an openness and friendly willingness to understand what is going on around and inside of you.
Life is busy even for kids now days, and they are finding it increasingly difficult to focus and concentrate. Stress is also on the increase in our children.
The benefit of practicing mindfulness for a child is he/she can learn to pause for a moment, take a breath and get in touch with what they may need/feel in that moment.
Mindfulness helps children develop the skills to accept not all things in life are great, or go their way. They learn to respond rather than react, thereby gaining tools to help them navigate their own special inner world, and the world around them.
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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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