The Benefits of Yoga For Both Children & Adults

Here’s a copy of an article from YogaBugs published on the “More Than Mummies” website today – http://www.morethanmummies.com/2011/10/the-benefits-of-yoga/.

Interest in yoga has never been greater, with elite sports people such as David Beckham and Rafael Nadal including yoga in their training programmes whilst well-known celebrities from Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhall through to Davina McCall have established yoga practices. However the huge rewards of yoga – both physical and mental – are increasingly being acknowledged as having a positive effect on children’s fitness, ability to focus and high stress levels.

According to research carried out by Mumsnet (October 2009) pre-school children are one of the most stressed out age groups! At first sight, this seems unlikely but closer examination of the life of many children – with its diet of TV advertising, computer games and poor nutrition – suggests that children’s wellbeing and mental health is being undermined by the pressures of modern life. Sedentary lifestyles now mean that half of all children are not ready for school at the age of five as they’ve not learnt the key physical and communication skills needed to prepare them for learning. All of these skills are learnt through play which is fundamental to children’s learning and development.

As we know, play is how children learn about themselves and the world around them. Children play spontaneously as it’s a natural human instinct to explore the world around us. It’s important that children try out a broad range of play activities, and don’t
just focus on the same one, day after day. That’s why YogaBugs classes have been designed to use dynamic storytelling, acted out through safe yoga postures, to take children on imaginary adventures such as safari expeditions to the African jungle and
intergalactic space missions.

There are few physical activities that small children can actually do better than grown-ups and yoga is certainly one of them! Their natural flexibility and energy mean that they can do yoga postures that many adult yoga practitioners have spent years trying
to achieve, and in some cases can only dream about! Breathing and warm up techniques help children to focus whilst the posture work strengthens and tones their
bodies. Relaxation and visualisation techniques help concentration and improve
sleep patterns. Small children need no incentive to become superheroes, scary
snakes and ferocious lions – their imaginations just kick in. By going on an
adventure with your child, you too get to experience what is so magical about
being a child for an enchanting few minutes.

Finally a few words on the benefits of yoga for exhausted parents. You may be thinking
that yoga is the last thing you want to do as you’re just too tired! When you feel like you’re running on empty and your energy reserves are depleted, either restorative yoga or Yoga Nidra is a great way of calming and rejuvenating your body and mind. This is because both restorative yoga and Yoga Nidra create the conditions needed for the parasympathetic nervous system to switch on and allows the nervous system to unwind. This is essential for the body’s well-being. Here’s a podcast you can try out at home so that you can experience the benefits for yourself!

The YogaBugs blog contains lots of ideas for yoga inspired activities you can do at home with your kids – http://www.yogabugs.com/blog. We publish our blog posts on our Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hp#!/YogaBugs.

Creating a Calming Bedtime Routine (All Children)

Yoga is a great way to wind down from the day’s activities as there are so many calming postures you can do as part of the bedtime routine. It will help to settle your child before they climb into bed and prepare them for a good night’s sleep. So here are a few ideas you can incorporate into your evening routine.

Start by sitting on the floor with your child. S/he can be seated on your lap, beside you or face to face. Inhale a few deep breaths, filling your belly with lots of air. Then place your hand on your belly. Count to four as you inhale, hold for one count and then breathe out smoothly as you count to four again. Repeat this three to four times.

Now you can introduce some yoga poses, always starting in a quiet pose such as child’s pose. Then move into more active poses to help the muscles to unwind. End in a child’s pose to quiet the body and the mind. Finish the routine with a relaxation pose; a guided visualisation will make this time extra special.

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

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

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

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

Gentle Spinal Twist: Sitting with your legs out-stretched, twist to one side. You’re your back straight. Place your hands on the floor and look behind you. Rest in the twist for a few moments; then repeat the twist on the other side.

Kiss Your Knee Pose: Sit opposite your child. Stretch one leg out in front and bring the other foot against your thigh. Inhale to stretch your spine. As you exhale, bend forward to kiss your knee! Repeat on the other side.

Sing or listen to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”

Relaxation Pose: Lie flat on your back, arms at sides, feet slightly apart. Close your eyes and rest. End with a guided visualisation:

Imagine that you are lying outside and you can see a beautiful rainbow. The rainbow has lots of lovely, bright colours – reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues and purples. This makes you feel so happy. You can see the start of the rainbow so you start to climb up, one step at a time. You want to see what’s over the rainbow! Is it a magical land? Spend a few moments imagining what this magical land is like.

 I AM BEAUTIFUL & MANY COLOURED LIKE A RAINBOW!

Yoga Is MediSation – It’s The Little Things Kids Say Or Do….

It’s the little things that kids say or do that makes teaching YogaBugs classes so delightful. And the chance to hunt for lost pirate treasure or adventure deep in the African jungle on a regular basis is pretty fantastic too, not to mention a change from normal day to day life!

Here are a few anecdotes from Denyse Whillier’s classes (YogaBugs London North & East) which we hope will make you smile too – and maybe even encourage you to find out more about our teaching opportunities. (Names have been changed).

  • In all the pre-school classes I’ve taught, the kids have given me a new name – Yoga! It doesn’t matter how many times that I explain that my name is “Denyse,” I’m always called Yoga.
  • In the first YogaBugs class I ever taught, I asked the children (reception) to tell me what they knew about yoga. Alex solemnly explained that “yoga is mediSation.” He is from Dalston after all, currently a trendy, boho area in London, so I guess such an answer is to be expected.
  • A couple of weeks later, that same class decided to draw pictures about the magical adventures they had been on. One of the kids drew me, resplendent on my multi-coloured yoga mat, flying off to the moon. From then on, we all jumped on board our magical yoga mats, ready to be whisked off on our next adventure.
  • When I first met 3 year old Jack, he was quite withdrawn and I couldn’t get him to make eye contact with me. He sat on his mat looking quite grumpy, and didn’t seem to be enjoying the adventures. I persevered in my efforts to build a relationship with him, but was starting to get a bit despondent. A couple of weeks ago we blasted off to the moon to rescue an astronaut who’d got lost. We had to hide behind a moon rock to keep out of the way of some space dinosaurs that were going past. Jack looked up at me and said that he didn’t want to hide behind the moon rock – because the dinosaurs would get his back! I realised that he’d been listening intently after all and was thoroughly engrossed in the adventure. Last week he stayed on for the second class I teach at his nursery as well as his own.
  • Another 3 year old, Adam, is particularly shy, but has slowly been coming out of his shell. A favourite song to sing is “Walking In The Jungle” as you get to stomp like an elephant, roar like a lion and snap like a crocodile. Last week, as soon as he heard the music start up, Adam (who I’d taught in an earlier class) appeared beside me and sat on my yoga mat. Each time we were about to start a new verse, Adam looked up at me and asked – in quite a loud voice – “What Do You See.” This is one of the lines from the song. I was so touched.

It’s these little moments that make teaching for YogaBugs such a magical experience, and reminds you how children marvel and enjoy the simplest things in life.

For more information about Denyse’s classes in North & East London, do email her on denyse@yogabugs.com or look at her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hp#!/pages/YogaBugs-North-East-London/204851679587533?sk=wall.

A Yoga Routine For Waking & Stretching

 

Yoga is a fantastic way to get the day started as it helps to stretch the muscles and get the circulation moving. This sequence includes several poses that help your child to bear weight in their hands. These help to boost the development of the fine motor skills your child needs to hold a crayon, button up clothes and use a zipper. So here are a few ideas you can incorporate into your morning routine.

Table Pose: Start on your hands and knees with your palms shoulder-distance apart and your knees and feet hip-distance apart. Keep your back flat like a table.

Crawling Table Pose: From table pose, place a soft toy on your child’s back, directly above the belly. Ask your child to crawl and keep the toy on his/her back. When it falls off, you take turns to crawl around with the soft toy on your pack. (Crawling stimulates left-right brain activity).

Cat Pose: Kneel on the floor on all fours. Arch your back like a cat and make some meowing noises!

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

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

Lunge: From dog pose, step one foot forwards between your hands and stay there for a few moments. Go back into dog pose and then repeat on the other side.

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

Repeat this sequence of moves two to three times.

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

 Now you could sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” or another song that your child loves to get the day off to a great start.

Come up to sitting in a simple crossed legged position with your hands on your knees and your eyes closed. Imagine that you are lying in the garden. The sun is shining and butterflies are dancing on the beautiful, brightly coloured flowers. You look up and see a Magician standing in front of you. You start to smile. The Magician casts a magic spell and tells you what a lovely, happy day you have ahead.

 I AM HAPPY!

Yoga Nidra – Deep Relaxation For Exhausted Parents

 Also known as yogic sleep or sleep with awareness, Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice that has recently been gaining popularity in the UK. It is intended to induce full-body relaxation, ideal for exhausted parents!

During a typical class, teachers use a variety of techniques—including guided imagery and body scanning—to aid relaxation. And unlike a quick Savasana at the end of asana practice, Yoga Nidra allows enough time for you to physiologically and psychologically sink into it—at least 20 to 45 minutes. This creates the conditions for the parasympathetic nervous system to switch on which allows the nervous system to unwind. This is essential for the body’s well-being.

The Mandukya Upanishads, an ancient yoga text, refers to four different stages of Yoga Nidra. The first stage starts by quieting the overactive conscious mind. You then move into a meditative state, gradually finding a state of “ultimate harmony,” in which the brain waves slow down and a subtle euphoria emerges. Though most people won’t slip easily into the more advanced stages, you still tend to emerge feeling rejuvenated.

Try out this podcast at home and experience the benefits for yourself!

New YogaBugs Classes Starting…..

We’re delighted that eight people have recently completed their training with YogaBugs and will be opening up new classes. Our franchisees run classes in primary schools, nurseries and children’s centres as well as in private settings. Our teacher representatives run private classes and after school clubs.

Franchisees:

Angie Fitzpatrick – Derby

Angie has joined from us the Derbyshire area. She originally trained with us in Yoga’d Up back in 2006 and has now taken on a franchise. Angie is also a Yoga and Pilates instructor and used to run a franchise for Rosemary Conley. E: angie@yogabugs.com

Mandana Jones – Hampton, Twickenham

Mandana joins us from Hampton, Twickenham. Mandana is a self-employed actress working on classical theatre, popular drama and commercials. She has a 5 year old son and has been practicing yoga for over 20 years. E: mandana@yogabugs.com

Natasha Singh – Putney & Wimbledon, South West London

Natasha will be running classes in the SW London area of Putney and Wimbledon. By background, Natasha is a personal trainer and yoga teacher for Virgin Active. E: natasha@yogabugs.com

Rachel Keene – Alton, Surrey

Rachel is joining us from Alton, Surrey. Rachel has lots of experience in working with children as an assistant teacher in a nursery, as well as having four children of her own! She has been practicing yoga for over 10 years and is excited to be able to join her two passions, yoga and working with children. E: rachel@yogabugs.com

Teacher Representatives:

Anna Pryce – Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Anna has completed her teacher training with Teach Yoga (Yoga Alliance 250 hours) and has been looking for a way to offer yoga to children, whilst also being able to give her daughter the fantastic benefits of YogaBugs!

Amanda Ridgley – Winchester, Hampshire

Amanda completed her teacher training in March 2011 and she teaches at a detox retreat for the over 50’s. Amanda is passionate about the benefits of yoga for children and is excited to be joining the team.

Karen West – Swindon, Wiltshire

Karen completed her teacher training with the YYI in South Africa in 2007. She has two children aged 8 and 11. She is looking forward to being able to teach children how to combat stress, have fun and enjoy being physically active whilst stimulating their creative minds through YogaBugs.

Meenal Padhiar – South Croydon, Surrey

Meenal is also a yoga teacher, after completing her training at a Yoga Alliance certified school in India in May 2011. Meenal loves children and coming from a large family herself, is looking to inspire children and nuture their body, imagination and spirit through the great gift of yoga.

If this has inspired you to find out more about our franchise and teaching opportunities, you’ll find more information on our website. Alternative email lisa@yogabugs.com for a prospectus.

 

Breathing Exercises You Can Do With Your Child

On 7 October, we looked at the value of mindful (or deep) breathing for adults and the mind-body benefits this brings. We don’t recommend Pranayama for children under 16 because their respiratory system is not yet sufficiently developed. However there are a number of simple breathing exercises that you can practice at home with your child which have energising, calming and balancing effects.

Elephant Breath – This exercise is great for waking up and energising. Elephants love to shower themselves with their own trunks. Get your child to choose something to shower with – sparkles, love or laughter for example.

Standing with your feet wide apart, link your hands and dangle your arms in front of you like an elephant trunk. Breathe in through your nose as you raise your arms high above your head. Breathe out through your mouth as you swing your arms down through your legs. Repeat for three rounds; on the fourth round, stay their, arch your back and shower yourself!

Snake Breath – This is a great calming exercise. When they are coiled up and resting, snakes look around calming. They move slowly and calmly.

Sit up tall. Take a big breath in, filling up the whole body. Pause and breathe out slowly and smoothly making a steady hissing sound for as long as you can. Repeat for three to five rounds, feeling yourself slow down and become calmer.

Bunny Breath – This cleansing breath keeps you awake and alert. Bunnies are very alert!

Sit on your shins with your back straight, shoulders wide and chest lifted. Keeping your chin down, take three big sniffs, one straight after the other. Exhale in a long release, as if you are sighing out through your nostrils. Repeat for five to seven rounds.

Bumblebee Breath – This breath is great for relaxing and soothing. Bees hum their days away, visiting flowers and making honey. As you hum, think about what makes you happy!

Close your eyes and take a big breath in. As you breathe out, hum like a bee. Make sure that your face and lips feel soft that you can feel the vibration. Repeat this for five to seven rounds. Experiment with humming from high to low and notice the difference.

….Finally For Toddlers – Lay down and place a rubber duck or small soft toy on your tummy. As you breathe steadily in and out, watch your tummy move up and down. Keep the breath as even as you can so that the rubber duck or soft toy does not fall off!

The Value Of Play

On 28 September, we wrote about a feature in The Telegraph in which a powerful lobby of more than 200 experts warning that half of all children are not ready for school at the age of five because of their sedentary lifestyles. At YogaBugs Mission Control, we’re great fans of play; and the more creative and imaginative the better!

Play is fundamental to children’s learning and development. It’s how children learn about themselves and the world around them. Children play spontaneously as it’s a natural instinct to explore the world around them.  As they develop new skills, children learn how to overcome obstacles and solve problems. Play teaches children how to get along with others and develops social skills.

It’s important that children try out a broad range of play activities, and don’t just focus on the same one, day after day. To understand the different types of possibilities, it’s helpful to think of play in terms of five categories – explorative, imaginative, creative, physical and thinking.

Explorative – children are by nature little scientists and have endless questions. What happens if I mix these colours together? How do these blocks fit together?

Imaginative – pretending to be a doctor or a fireman, role playing and dressing up

Creative – making something out of nothing

Physical – developing co-ordination, balancing, running, catching, skipping, hop scotch

Thinking – solving puzzles and problems, making up rhymes and songs, word games

Each of the five different play categories stimulates the brain and body in different ways. By ensuring that your child’s play covers a broad range of activities, you’ll greatly aid their overall development and build confidence. What’s so great about play is that it can be done anywhere, does not have to cost anything and most importantly is fun!

Mindful (Or Deep) Breathing For Parents!

You’ve probably heard that it’s good to take deep breaths if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Did you know that you could also see improvements in clarity and attention, as well as in circulation, heart and blood pressure? A key aspect of living with awareness is developing the practice of mindful breathing, also known as diaphragmatic or deep breathing. In reality, deep breathing is a form of meditation.

Deep breathing is vital to our physical and emotional well-being and has a number of proven benefits. Our mental, emotional and physical health are linked to the quality of oxygen flow in the body. As the brain needs a lot of oxygen to function optimally (around 80% of the oxygen present in the body) how we breathe has a huge impact on your mental health and physical well-being.

Tension depletes the body’s oxygen supply because it inhibits the diaphragm, a powerful muscle that supports the lungs, from sending oxygen to the lower part of the lungs. At a physical level, deep breathing expands the lower part of the lungs in ways that enable more oxygen to circulate throughout the body. Mindful breathing corrects the tendency we have to tense our body, especially around the abdominal muscles.

When we’re depressed or anxious, our breath becomes shallow, our shoulders slump and our lungs collapse.  We don’t get enough oxygen rich blood to feed our brain. Deep breathing, along with some adjustments in our posture, enables the lungs to expand to their full capacity so that the body and mind receive more oxygen. Studies have shown that deep breathing helps to alleviate depression and anxiety by restoring the body’s biochemistry. This is because deep breathing raises the levels of feel-good hormones oxytocin, dopamine and prolactin and lowers cortisol levels, the stress hormone.

The practice of deep breathing, alongside other activities that naturally circulate oxygen, such as exercise, singing, dancing and laughter, has been shown to have tremendous healing effects on the body and mind. As a consequence there are many physical and emotional benefits. With deep breathing we can expect to see improvements in mental clarity and focus, as well as physical improvements in blood circulation and blood pressure, benefiting the heart. Deep breathing is an important component in managing panic attacks and feelings of anxiety, as well as other emotionally overwhelming conditions.

Conscious breath work can unlock doors to self-healing, self-awareness, acceptance, self-discipline and peace of mind – all qualities we need to increase our happiness, improve our relationships and live life to the full. Yoga Journal has a number of articles that will help you to develop a deep breathing practice. In the meanwhile, engage in as many activities as possible that replenish the oxygen supply to your body and brain – exercise, sing, dance, laugh!

Spotlight On Our South Lincolnshire Franchise

Lynn Exley was working as a School Business Manager in 2008 when her Deputy Head first mentioned the idea of running yoga classes in the school where she worked. As she had a personal interest in yoga, Lynn offered to find out how the school could get a teacher. After an extensive internet search, she discovered that there were none to be found. However, her own yoga teacher directed her to YogaBugs and after an inspiring conversation with Fenella Lindsell, the founder of Yogabugs, she found herself buying the franchise for South Lincolnshire!

 “It wasn’t long before I left my job to concentrate on running the franchise. Currently I employ 4 teachers who help me run classes across a mainly rural area. I’ve also trained as an adult yoga teacher. Because of the absence of major urban towns, I’ve concentrated my efforts on running YogaBugs and Yoga’d up classes in local schools, nurseries and Children’s Centres.  In particular I’ve found that  including yoga as part of the school day as part of PE has really made a difference to the children and teachers alike.”

A teacher at a local primary school commented: 

“The Yogabugs programme has particularly benefited the less confident members of the class and those with low self-esteem.  In addition, I feel the weekly adventures have helped with writing. By using movement to tell a story, the children seem to be able to visualise better. This is so vital for creative writing.  Recently, they produced some simple poems which were brilliant for such young children. The course has been enjoyed by us all and I have been pleased with the unexpected benefits beyond the physical.”

If you’d like Lynn to run classes in your primary school, nursery or children’s centre, you can get in touch with her as follows:

T: 0845 899 7169

E: lynn@yogabugs.com