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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Little Flower Yoga for Kids (recommended book)

“When we ask our children to pay attention… what we really mean is… Stop thinking about all the other things that are important to you… Focus exclusively on what I want you to focus on. Then respond in a way that is productive and socially appropriate. What we are asking our kids is very hard.... Through the understanding and practice of yoga, your child--and you--will gain invaluable life skills that can be used in school, at home, and in social situations." 

Little Flower Yoga for Kids covers five elements of yoga practice:

Connect: with “both the external world and the internal emotional state," through activities like:
  • Layers of Sound
  • Emotion Jar
  • “I am in charge” Mantra

Breathe: to “learn to reduce anxiety, stabilize energy, and create a sense of safety and peace in the body,” using techniques such as:
  • Balloon Breath
  • Heart and Belly Breath
  • Back-to-Back Breathing

Move: to “maintain a state of alert engagement, whereby hyperactive behavior is minimized, but the child still feels strong and energetic.”  This is done through:
  • Classic yoga poses (asanas) for grounding, strength, and balance
  • Detailed, child-friendly instructions, with illustrations
  • Recommended sequences for a 20, 40, or 60-minute practice session

Focus: “Deliberate meditations” presented “in a step-by-step way, allow for progressive improvement and experiences of success.”  For example:
  • Expanding-Energy Meditation
  • Thought River Meditation

Relax: “Exhaustion is common in children, and we know that being tired makes everything else, including paying attention, much harder to handle. These activities… help children rest and restore, reduce insomnia, and help with the transition to sleep.”  For example:

All of the activities are clearly explained, with recommendations for making them more or less challenging, depending on the readiness of individual children.  

There's also a lot of practical advice on how to avoid common pitfalls: for example, it might be better not to instruct children to "take a deep breath," as it could lead them to "overemphasize their inhalation, filling up with air in an uncomfortable way that contributes to, rather than reduces, anxiety."

While it’s written primarily for parents, Little Flower Yoga for Kids would be useful for anyone who wants to teach children "gentle yoga practices to help them pay better attention and balance their emotions, while building physical strength and flexibility."