Support Nell’s Nomination To Carry The Olympic Flame!

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 In recognition of her services to sport and the community, YogaBugs Founder Nell (Fenella) Lindsell has been nominated to carry the Olympic Flame in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay! We’re delighted because Nell has worked tirelessly to introduce yoga to over 100,000 children across the UK as well as to influence the lives of many seniors (over 60s) by getting them active and changing their attitude to exercise.

Nell has lobbied government at a local and national level to make yoga available for children who most need it, embracing government initiatives to encourage schools to adopt a more holistic and inclusive attitude to physical activity and offer a more rounded approach to learning. She has helped to introduce a new generation to yoga through her work for the popular CBeebies Waybaloo programme.

Nell’s father, Richard Zimmern, took part in the opening ceremony of the 1948 Olympic Games held in London. These were the first Summer Olympics after the 1936 Berlin Games and became known as the Austerity Games due to the economic climate and post-war rationing. A record 59 nations were represented by 4,104 athletes, 3,714 men and 390 women, in 19 sports disciplines.

In his opening address, Lord Burghley said, “Your Majesty, The hour has struck. A visionary dream has today become a glorious reality. At the end of the worldwide struggle in 1945, many institutions and associations were found to have withered and only the strongest had survived. How, many wondered, had the great Olympic Movement prospered?”  After welcoming the athletes to two weeks of “keen but friendly rivalry”, he said London represented a “warm flame of hope for a better understanding in the world which has burned so low.”

We asked Nell what this nomination means to her. “For me, this nomination is a huge link to my father who has been such an inspiration in my life. It gives me a real sense of pride to be connected to him in this way. I’m absolutely committed and passionate about changing children’s lives so that they have a strong sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Children’s lives are now so competitive and challenging. I want them to have time to indulge in their imaginations and explore their creativity. Yoga helps children to feel grounded and secure. Our fun, story-style, themed YogaBugs and Yoga’d Up classes give children the space to be creative and that’s so important in this modern world where children have so little time to play.”

You can support Nell’s nomination and inspire others by clicking on the “share” button at: www.lloydstsblondon2012.co.uk/en/carrytheflame/Nomination/?nid=e2e1cd3d-f316-4064-97d5-3f30757e1962.

What To Do This Weekend: 26 August

We’re hoping for more warm, sunny days to see us through to the Autumn Term but just in case there’s the odd shower, we’d like you to enter our art competition (see details below). How about:

Flying A Kite: Most homes have at least one kite forgotten in a cupboard – or you can make your own, using dowelling and paper and glue. If you’re really keen, there are even professionals who’ll give you kite-flying lessons in windy spots across the country – see www.kitevibe.com.

Stargazing: It might take a while to work things out, but stick with it – and once you’ve identified a constellation, you’ll always find it easy to spot. It’s always magical to go out at night – see popastro.com.

Cycling: Check out routes on www.sustrans.org.uk If you haven’t got any bikes, hire them out and exploring your neighbourhood in a whole new way. Get ready for cycling to school in September.

Entering Our Art Competition: We’re asking YogaBugs to send in a picture of their favourite YogaBugs adventure. The winning entrant in each age range – MiniBugs (walking age to 2 years) MegaBugs (2 to 3.5 years), MightyBugs (3.5 to 5 years and 5 to 7 years) and Yoga’d Up (8 to 12 years) will win a book or CD prize and your picture will feature on our website. Unfortunately we won’t be able to return your pictures. Please be sure to put your name, age, email and postal address on the back of your picture. Entries should be received by Friday, 7 October and be posted to:

Art Competition,

YogaBugs Mission Control,

Centre Court,

1301 Stratford Road,

Birmingham B28 9HH

Yoga and the Development of Gross Motor Skills In Pre-School Children

Yoga for children is very different to adult yoga as it has to be a lot more high-energy to keep them interested. That’s why our YogaBugs classes involve stories, group work, songs and games whilst simultaneously learning yoga poses, breathing and relaxation techniques.

The main aims for pre-school children are to develop motor skills and confidence. In this blog post, we’re going to focus on how yoga helps children to develop gross motor skills. Motor skills have two separate parts: gross and fine. Fine motor skills include matching shapes and colours, zipping, cutting straight lines and dressing or bathing. Gross motor skills include walking, lifting, throwing, kicking, sitting upright, jumping and reaching. Gross motor skills are important for major body functions, while fine motor skills take time to develop and won’t occur overnight. Children improve motor skills by practicing over and over.

You can encourage your child to develop their gross motor skills by allowing him/ her to ride bikes, kick and throw large balls and to gallop like a horse. Each child grows and develops at different rates so it’s important to be patient with him/ her, praising accomplishments and efforts. Improve gross motor skills with exercises by playing ‘Simon Says.’ Imitation activities such as creeping like a snake, waddling like a duck and hopping like a rabbit are effective for exercising the gross motor skills.

A great yoga posture to practice with your child is tree pose. This helps to develop balance and flexibility as you have to make small adjustments in order to stay upright. Simply start by standing upright and shift your weight into one foot. Lift the other foot and hold it against your ankle (with your knee pointing out to the side). First bring your hands together at your heart. When you’re feeling steady, lift your arms steadily up to the sky to form branches. Once you’ve got your balance, try closing your eyes and see how long you can stay balanced for. Repeat on the second side.

Hand-Eye Co-ordination and Visual Discrimination Key to Literacy

As it’s World Literacy Day tomorrow, we wanted to focus on ways in which children can develop their reading skills. One of the very best things you can do for your child’s early literacy development is to simply let them play. Not only is play an important part of childhood, but you are actually helping them to build skills that are key to learning to read and write.Hand-eye coordination is a necessary skill for written language and the best way to help your child develop this is to let them play with toys and activities that involve looking at, using, and discriminating a number of elements. Puzzles are a great activity for this as are building blocks, Lego and construction toys.

Studies have shown that spending time on hand-eye co-ordination improves children’s ability to learn to read and reduces the likelihood of reading difficulties. In fact engaging in a variety of craft activities, which most kids love, is very beneficial so add play-dough, stickers and glue sticks to your list of educational supplies.

   

Puzzles help to develop hand-eye coordination because learning to control our hands and fingers – according to information received from sight – is a co-ordination skill that helps children in early attempts at reading and writing. Working out which piece goes where, figuring out how to fit pieces into place by making adjustments and seeing a sequence develop in an organized pattern is a valuable learning experience as well as fun for children.

Puzzles, matching games, and the like help children to learn visual discrimination. Visual discrimination is the ability of the brain to quickly tell the difference among visually similar letters, like “p,” “b,” and “q” or between words such as “was” and “saw.” Students with difficulty making these distinctions often struggle with learning to read, write, and spell. Playing games, engaging in activities or with toys that help children discriminate among similar objects can be fun for the child and help them master an important pre-literacy skill. Getting your child to help you sort out loose change in their piggy bank is a great way of encouraging visual discrimination.

Encourage your child to work their wrist and finger muscles as well as work on their co-ordination and fine motor skills to help prepare them for handwriting practice in their future. Activities that help include Lego and other building sets, play-dough, puzzles, pegboards and beads.

To celebrate National Literacy Day, the Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of the National Literacy Trust, will join the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to raise the profile of poetry in schools. Camilla is expected to read one of her favourite verses as she launches the Anthologise project – a competition in which groups of pupils will compile their own collections. Anthologise has been devised by the Poet Laureate to encourage wider reading, appreciation and enjoyment of poetry among school children. The competition is aimed at groups of any size from British secondary schools.

YogaBugs Favourite Books

I’ve just learnt that a television programme dedicated to children’s books may launch on C4 later this year. I’m always keen to encourage YogaBugs to read so I think a kid’s book club is a great way to develop a love of books and story-telling. Meanwhile I’ve been asking YogaBugs for your favourite children’s books and got a fantastic response! I hope this list will give you a few ideas for children’s summer reads too.

Natasha suggests the following pre-school children’s favourite books:  The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, Splat The Cat by Rob Scotton,Six Dinner Sid by Inga Moore and Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.

Tim recommends Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and I Really Want to Eat a Child by Sylviane Donnio as good reads.

Ashley has lots of book suggestions including Zippity Zebra and the Windy Day by Claire Henley, The King of Tiny Things and The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis, Cinderella andRapunzel by Lynn Roberts, the Captain Flinn stories such as Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andreae, Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure by Kristina Stephenson and The Night Pirates Peter Harris.

Here at YogaBugs mission control, we particularly like The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson as well as Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. Now you tell us more about your favourite stories!

What To Do This Weekend: 12 August

What a great time I had at the LolliBop Children’s Festival last weekend and I really enjoyed our jungle and supersonic adventures! I really love getting out and meeting other YogaBugs. I’m now back at YogaBugs mission control but there are plenty of child friendly festivals you can go to over the summer. Check out festivalkidz.com for more information.

The National Trust are giving free admission to kids between 1-26 August. You can download your free voucher here – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-visits-kidsgofree.htm. The National Trust also have hundredds of ‘Wild Child’ activities taking place in our gardens, parks, woodland, open countryside and beaches. From safaris and bug hunts to pond dipping and bat watching, there are plenty of ways children can get close to nature in the great outdoors.

Waybuloo will be bringing a life size Pipling’s home to several National Trust locations across England. Children are able to climb inside an specially adapted Piplings home and imagine what it would be like to live as a Pipling. For more information regarding venues around the country, visit  http://uk.waybuloo.com/news/visit-piplings-home. Meanwhile here are some other activities to keep you entertained over the summer holidays.

Build A Den: An innate ability in children or join a course. This can give them ideas for dens to keep them entertained for the entire summer. For den-building courses seewww.forestry.gov.uk.

Try Sand Sculpture: Sand sculpting is more popular than ever before and doesn’t just have to be confined to making sand castles. Start with a flotsam and jetsam-collecting session, since this will add plenty of fuel to your ideas, and then set off.

Organise A Rounders Match: Everyone loves a rounders match (or you could make it cricket). Simply phone a few other families, choose your day, and bring picnics for lunch. Make sure the teams are well-balanced in terms of age, ability etc, and play hard! It’s a wonderfully bonding experience.

Row A Boat: Most places have a park with a boating lake somewhere within striking distance, so why not throw caution to the wind and try out the boats? Make sure the kids wear life jackets which should be available from the hire attendant. Take it in turns to row  -so what if you end up going round and round in circles?

Borrow A Dog: If your child is a dog lover, chances are that a dog would be a welcome guest – so why not invite one over, for the day or even for the weekend? To find your dog, just ask around: dog-owners need breaks too.

Keeping Kids Safe: London & UK Riots

There could only be one topic for discussion in today’s YogaBugs blog post and that’s the London & UK riots. Charities such as Beatbullying – http://www.beatbullying.org/ - have been doing a fantastic job of helping to spread the Metropolitan Police messages of safety to those young people out on the streets and to their parents. And we wanted to do our bit too.

On Tuesday evening, during the course of the London riots and the third consecutive night of violence, both Beatbullying’s CyberMentors and FutureYou websites saw increased levels of traffic - their chatrooms awash with intelligent but concerned debate. Beatbullying was one of a number of organisations which used used social media such as Twitter to positive and great effect. If you know of or are are one of the many young people upset and frightened by what is going on at the moment, you can log on to CyberMentors orFutureYou to talk through your feelings.

One of the FutureYou chatrooms comments was: ”The news just said… ‘these are youths from a generation looking at one of the bleakest futures in years and it’s kind of true, these kids feel like they have no future.” At YogaBugs, we like to think that we’re stretching imaginations and encouraging kids to dream big. We’d therefore like to offer up the following thought. Identify your dream and become unstoppable by never stopping once you have started toward that dream.

Our Top 5 Ways For Getting Kids Interested in Yoga

Recent interest in yoga applies to both children and adults, and it’s a great activity for all the family as it can be practised as fun, creative story style adventures. Increasingly children are discovering that this hobby can be hugely beneficial – mentally, socially and physically – as well as great fun. And with so many famous people getting the yoga bug – from footballers David Beckham, Shay Given and David James through to tennis player Andy Murray and royal jester Prince Harry – it’s fast losing its “lentils and turbans” reputation.

Here at YogaBugs mission control, we believe that yoga is an ideal pre-school or after-school activity because its benefits are so far reaching. Not only is yoga a great way of stretching and exercising the body, it also encourages interest in a healthy lifestyle and diet. For the child who lacks the co-ordination skills to play ball games, yoga is an inclusive activity which enables every child to shine whilst they build up strength and increase flexibility. So here are our top ways of encouraging everybody in the family to get the yoga bug.

Do Yoga with Your Child: Kids love to be active and play with an adult, especially when it involves playing on the ground and twisting bodies up.  There are multiple ‘partner poses’ in yoga that create a great jumping off point for doing this practice together.

Keep it Fun and Light: The last thing a child will respond to is a serious setting and strict guidelines to their yoga ‘practice.’  It’s not about doing the poses perfectly.  As long as our bodies are not misaligned or being pushed beyond their capacity, kids should be allowed to ‘interpret’ the poses and move toward them at their own speed.

Use Story as a Vehicle for Your Yoga Time Together: You can use a DVD, read from a yoga story book or make up your own story.  To do this on your own, simply research 5 – 10 yoga poses that you’d like to work with and see if you and your child can spark your imaginations and come up with a story to go along with the action.  It may not be a Pulitzer Prize winning story, but it will be great fun! Here at YogaBugs mission control, we climb trees to see which animals are in the jungle, and then roar like a lion, hiss like a snake or jump from one branch!

Set-Up a Regular Time to Practice Yoga: For most people, kids included, having an activity become part of your routine can be a great way to create a habit of a healthy behaviour.  The more you and your child practice yoga, the easier it becomes and the more benefits you’ll see. In our previous blog post, we explained how you could make yoga part of a calming bedtime routine.

Invite Some Friends to Play Along: What’s fun with one is even more fun with friends!  Many people are reporting that our DVD has been an excellent addition to their party, play-date or even as an alternative to a storytelling session. You could choose a favourite story –Monkey Puzzle  by Julia Donaldson and Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae are a couple of our favourites – and get your children to show you the yoga postures that correspond to the different animals.

For stories you can do with your child, you could read Fenella Lindsell’s book, YogaBugs: The One Bug Your Child Should Catch or watch the DVD, Ocean and Jungle Yoga Stories.

What To Do This Weekend: 5th August

It’s been such a busy week for YogaBugs. Not only have we been putting the finishing touches to our new website, but I’ve hot-footed it down to London to be at the LolliBop Children’s Festival in Regents Park from 5-7 August – http://www.lollibopfestival.com. Last weekend I made by first festival appearance at the Magic Loungeabout Festival at Broughton Hall, Skipton. If I met you there, hopefully I wasn’t too cranky? I’m not really accustomed to camping and I didn’t sleep too well! A big thank you to Rachel Frazer ofyorkshire@yogabugs.com for organising this.

As life can’t be all YogaBugs adventures, I’ve come up with some other activities you could do with your kids over the summer holidays.

Visit A Pick-Your-Own Farm: A cheap day out with the added touch of learning about picking and growing and making jams or puddings when back home. Seewww.pickyourownfarms.org.uk for a list of farms.

Organise A Street Party: It’s a lovely way to spend a summer evening – and if you don’t want to go to the hassle of getting the council to close the road, and have a park or green space nearby, you could always hold it there instead. Simply drop invitations through your neighbours’ doors, and organise a planning meeting. See www.streetparty.org.uk for more information.

Plant A Few Seeds Or A Veggie Grow-Bag: You don’t need any more space than a window-box, or a tiny space on a patio. Your kids will love deciding what to plant, sowing the seeds, remembering to water them and then charting their progress from seedling to their stomach. Children love anything to do with nature.

Pitch A Tent In The Garden: Nothing beats the excitement of a tent pitched in the garden or borrow one from a friend! Encourage the children to decorate it with cushions, blankets, books, iPods. And of course, lunch and tea can be picnics under canvas!

And Finally Go On A Scavenger Hunt: Here’s how you can turn a mundane walk to the grocery shop, the library, the post office or the park into a fun outing. If you’re not super-keen on having pine cones, acorns and twigs stashed in your kids’ rooms, you can do a photo scavenger hunt instead. Get your kids to bring their cameras (disposables work well for this) and take pictures of the objects on an alphabet list. Simply prepare a list with each letter of the alphabet and set off to find at least one object that starts with each letter. Get your kids to record the name of the item they’ve photographed on the list.

Yoga Postures To Aid Your Child’s Bedtime Routine

Using yoga with children at bedtime can be a very relaxing, unique way to make your bedtime routine a calming experience. This will help to calm your child before they climb into bed for the evening. So let’s look at how you could go about this.

Start off by sitting on the floor with your child. The child can be seated on your lap, sitting beside you or face to face. Inhale some deep breaths, filling your belly with lots of air. Then place your hand on your belly and feel the air as it moves in and out of your body. Count to four as you bring the air in, hold for one count and then allow the air to release as you count to four again. Repeat this two to three times. It’s important to let the air fill your belly, not just your upper chest. Sometimes it is fun to lay on your back, put a small stuffed animal on your belly and watch it move up and down as you breathe in and out. We often use a rubber duck in our classes!

Now you can introduce some yoga poses, using ones that represent animals or living things, such as a cow, dog, cat or cobra. Always start in a quiet pose, such as child’s pose or rock pose. Then move into a more active pose, such as cobra pose, cow pose, cat pose or dog pose. Then go back in a child’s pose to quiet the body and the mind. You could even create your own story! Finish the routine with a relaxation pose; you can always use a lavender eye bag for an extra calming experience.

Child’s pose: Sit on your heels, with your arms at your side. Lean forward, head to floor.

Cow pose: Kneel on the floor on all fours. Raise your head up and sink your back down into a deep curve.

Cobra pose: Lie on your stomach, feet together, palms on the floor. Raise your head and shoulders and look up. We like to hiss!

Cat pose: Kneel on the floor on all fours. Arch your back like an angry cat!

Dog pose: Hands and feet on the floor with buttocks in the air (an upside-down triangle).

Relaxation pose: Lie flat on your back, arms at sides, feet slightly apart. Close your eyes and rest.

Finally, you can end bedtime yoga in one of two ways. Either use a simple body scan to relax each body part as it rests and melts into the bed or end with a story. As the child lies on his or her back in a quiet relaxation pose with eyes closed, guide the child to imagine a story in his or her mind’s eye.

For stories you can do with your child, you could read Fenella Lindsell’s book, YogaBugs: The One Bug Your Child Should Catch.