Friday, February 25, 2011

Yoga for Kids

Back in the day, parents would try to wrest their kids away from the TV and ask them to play in the park. In this generation, we try to hide the iPads, block downloadable apps and ask them to do some yoga. 

Yoga engages a child's imagination and playfulness. It boosts confidence and self-esteem. The poses keep the bones healthy and the muscles active. It also teaches balance, focus and relaxation. 

Children can begin yoga as early as possible through guided play. However, structured breathing or pranayama should only be introduced to ages 8+. Here are some fun and simple ways to teach your kids yoga and get their butts (and yours) off the couch.

Fly, Fly Butterfly
Baddha Konasana. Lie on your back, drop your knees to opposite sides with the soles of your feet touching. Stretch your arms overhead. Flutter your wings (legs) to loosen hips. Breathe for 5 counts.

Stand Like a Tree
Vriksasana. Stand upright. Lift your right foot with your right hand and, bending the knee to the side, place your foot on your inner thigh. Stretch your arms overhead, palms together. Look ahead and breathe for 8 counts. Repeat on the other side.

Downward Facing Dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana. Kneel on all fours with hands directly beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips. Look down at your hands and press the palms down to the mat, spreading your fingers like a starfish. Tuck your toes under, drop your head. Rise on your toes, straightening your legs and pushing your hips to the sky. Breathe for 5 counts.

Hungry Crocodile
Nakrasana. Lie face down on the floor and press your legs together so they make a long tail. Point your toes. Press your hands down on the floor beside your chest, with elbows bent. Now lift your head and upper chest and stretch out your long tail. Balance on your stomach. Show show your teeth by stretching out your arms and fingers and giving a good crocodile roar. 

To add to the fun, paint faces so that you really look the part! Namaste, everyone! :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guerilla Yoga

When you walk into a new studio, do you ever feel that you have to declare your yoga style, years of practice, who your teacher is, the studio you frequent and if you're a teacher, where you had your TT certification.

Just like the Philippines has 7,107 islands so it seems that yoga has as many tribes.

Meet Tara Stiles. Fomer model turned rebel yoga star. Her studio in NoHo offers classes for everyone - no tribes, no groups based on what style your practice. She rejects NYC's elitist yoga scene claiming it reminded her of the mean girls in high school, only with incense and bare feet. She refuses to pledge allegiance to one teacher. Her target market is the gym guy intimidated by the oms and New Age music. She broadcasts her classes online through YouTube, has an iPhone app, and has a bestselling book entitled " Slim Calm Sexy Yoga". Detractors call it a sellout, critics call it a reduction of yoga to the level of a gym class.

I admire Ms. Stiles for going against the the grain. Yoga is for everyone. Not just for those who can touch their toes in one swoop. One need not have a PhD in meditation. Even Bikram yoga, which many purists deride, is still yoga. Yoga has no rules. It is what we do to become better persons. And there's no need to have a Shiva statue in front of your mat when you practice that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yamas Shyamas

As I was eating a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, I thought of how difficult it is to stick to the Yamas and Niyamas. Best intentions are almost always not enough. On a rather tamasic wavelength, I came up with many, many obstacles on my personal path to "enlightenment".  

Here are a choice few. What are yours?
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