A Yoga Inspired Easter Routine

The Resources You’ll Need      

- A copy of the YogaBugs Guide to Popular Yoga Postures, found on the Fun Zone at www.yogabugs.com.

-       “Spot’s First Easter” by Eric Hill, “The Bunny Who Found Easter” by Charlotte Zolotow, “Peter Rabbit Seedlings: Peter Rabbit’s Easter” by Beatrix Potter or another favourite story book about Easter.

-       Musical accompaniment for the following songs:

  • Sleeping Bunnies
  • I’m A Spring Chicken
  • A soothing piece of music suitable for relaxation

Warm Up

Start by warming up your voices with Sleeping Bunnies and doing the actions to the song. Then warm up your bodies with these yoga postures:

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

Cow Pose: Kneel on the floor on all fours. Raise your head up and sink your back down into a deep curve. Move back to Cat pose. Repeat this sequence 3-4 times.

Dog Pose: Take both legs back so that your hands and feet are on the floor and your buttocks are in the air (the shape of an upside-down triangle).

Cycling: Start off by lying on your back. Cycle up the hill – slowly at first and then faster. Slow down to a stop

Rocking Horse: Roll up and down on your mat. As you do, try to touch the floor behind you with your feet. Do this 3-4 times. Come up to a sitting position with your feet together in butterfly pose.

Butterfly Pose: Sit up tall, bend your knees and bring the bottom of your feet to touch. Flap your butterfly wings to warm up your hips. You can ask the children to tell you what colour their butterfly wings are.

Tree Pose:  - standing up tall, imagine you are a giant tree with roots growing out of the soles of your feet into the ground. Draw one foot to the side of the calf and balance on the standing leg. Bring the hands first to the heart, and then raise them in the air to form branches. If you’re a bit wobbly, put your hand against the wall for support. Repeat on the other side.

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. Repeat this for three to five rounds.

Story Time

Read “Spot’s First Easter” by Eric Hill, “The Bunny Who Found Easter” by Charlotte Zolotow, “Peter Rabbit Seedlings: Peter Rabbit’s Easter” by Beatrix Potter or another favourite story book about Easter. As you read through the story, introduce the yoga postures from the YogaBugs Guide To Popular Yoga Postures.

End with the song “I’m A Spring Chicken.”

Winding Down

Flying Hearts: This pose is a chest opener and helps us to see the brighter side of life. It is used by adults to prepare for meditation, so the effect on children is calming too. Start in Butterfly Pose (see above). Place your hands on the floor, behind your hips. Lean back slightly and lift your chest upward. Keep your head lifted up.

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.

Relaxation Pose: Lie flat on your back, arms at sides, feet slightly apart. Alternatively you could lay your child on your tummy and take the opportunity to massage his/ her back whilst the music is playing. (You could put your legs up against the wall whilst you’re doing this).  Close your eyes and rest. Listen to a soothing piece of music for a couple of minutes.

Kids & Exercise

Keeping with our theme of physical literacy, we came across this article in the Huffington Post about “Kids & Exercise.” It looks at the changes to activity levels as children become increasingly tech-savvy and more sedentary, as well as the impact of a diet based more on processed food.

So what did happen to ‘French Elastic’, hopscotch and the ball games we used to play after school? Are these games now extinct?!

Why Developing Physical Literacy Is So Important

 

 

Last Monday we published our first evaluation of our Impact & Change programme in schools, the Improving Emotional and Physical Literacy Study and put up highlights from this study on our blog. This week, we’re looking at why it’s so important for children to become physical literate.

Research has shown that being physically active later in life depends on an individual’s ability to feel confident in an activity setting. That confidence most often comes from having learned the fundamental movement and sport skills of agility balance and co-ordination - or physical literacy - as a child. Without the development of physical literacy, many children and young people will withdraw from sport and physical activity and are more likely to become inactive and lead unhealthy lifestyles.

A child who has not developed their physical literacy is likely to be disadvantaged throughout their life course. An inability to perform fundamental movement skills will restrict their ability to paryicipate in recreational and competitive activity, as they are unlikely to choose to take part in an activity that requires proficiency in the required skills. For example, a child who cannot balance will be disadvantaged when taking parting in activities such as dance, gymnastics, games and outdoor sports and is therefore more likely not to try them out.

There’s good and bad news about kids and physical activity. The bad news is that less than half of UK children get the physical activity they need. The good news is that we can turn this situation around. Here are three proven ways.

  • Be a role model for your kids by being physically active yourself—and with them. Active parents have active kids!
  • Make sure your kids spend as much time as possible outdoors all year round.
  • Reduce your kids’ screen time. Screen time can take away from active time.

And finally ask your child’s school whether they have looked at the YogaBugs Impact & Change programme and study. They can get further information through the YogaBugs website – www.yogabugs.com.

What To Do This Weekend: 23 March

With Easter around the corner, we wanted to find some Spring themed activities for you to do at home with the kids. You’ll know from our YogaBugs classes that a favourite pose is Butterfly. So we were delighted to discover an album of Spring mandalas on the Omazing Kids Yoga Facebook page. We hope their selection of downloadable mandalas will give your children lots of pleasure. We’d love to your beautiful drawings so do photograph and email them to info@yogabugs.com.

Izzy’s Story: The Difference Yoga’d Up Classes Made To A Girl With Down’s Syndrome

 This week is National Down’s Syndrome Week, and 21 March has been designated as “World Down Syndrome Day” by the United Nations. The aim of the week is to raise awareness and understanding of the condition which affects approximately 1 in 800 births worldwide. It is also about promoting the rights of those with Down’s Syndrome to enable them to enjoy a full and active life in their communities.

Yoga is a great form of exercise for children with Down’s Syndrome. Hypotonia (or low muscle tone) is characteristic in most children with Down’s Syndome. In addition to all the usual benefits of yoga, yoga poses help to strengthen the muscles, tighten the ligaments, and tone the overall body. Standing poses such as Mountain, Triangle and Warrior II are especially beneficial for unstable knee caps, weak ankles and flat feet.

In this post, we look at the difference weekly Yoga’d Up classes have made to Izzie, who is autistic and has Downs Syndrome. Her status within her class had always been low; causing her to suffer from low self-esteem. Her peers expected very little from her and sadly communicated with her only when absolutely necessary. This had caused Izzie to suffer from anxiety about school as a whole, and she had become very withdrawn and dependent on her support worker.

When the school introduced Yoga’d Up classes, Izzie was reluctant to join in at first and unfriendly to the teacher. This soon changed when she discovered, along with the rest of us, that she had a natural aptitude for yoga! Children with Downs Syndrome are often good at yoga, as they are naturally very flexible. Izzie is incredibly flexible and this has generated a very different response from her peers, exclamations of “Wow! Look at Izzie!”

Izzie has responded to this by enjoying her time in the limelight. She is now regarded with a great deal more respect by her peers, has gained in confidence and started to enjoy school more again.

(This story has been provided with permission from Izzy and her family).

New Study of YogaBugs School’s Programme Shows Remarkable Results

Today YogaBugs, the UK’s leading provider of children’s yoga, published the first evaluation of its Impact & Change programme for schools. The study evaluated results from 1,122 children who participated in its Impact & Change programme from across 50 different schools. Nine areas related to emotional and physical aspects of learning were analysed. Remarkably the results from children at Key Stage 1 showed an overall improvement of 39% across the nine areas evaluated, whilst children at Key Stage 2 showed an overall improvement of 38%.

In addition the study found:

  • The overall improvement made by boys was 39% by whilst the overall improvement made by girls was 38%;
  • Before the programme, children at Key Stage 1 scored an average of 5.7 out of 10 for confidence, with this rising to 8.1 when the programme ended;
  • There was an overall increase of 37% in the ability of children at Key Stage 1 to concentrate and listen, rising to 41% at Key Stage 2;
  • There was an overall increase of 39% in the ability of children at Key Stage 1 to work co-operatively, respect and relate well to others whilst the overall improvement made at Key Stage 2 was 36%;
  • There was an overall increase of 41% in the fitness of children at Key Stage 1 whilst the overall improvement made at Key Stage 2 was 34%.

To ensure a full cross section of children were included in the study, the results from a total of 1,122 children were analysed. 591 boys and 531 girls took part. 651 were from the Key Stage 1 age group and 471 were from the Key Stage 2 age group. To measure whether financial background made a difference to skill levels, a cross-section of schools from low-income areas (£10,000 or less), mid-income areas (£25,000 – £35,000) and high-income areas (£50,000 plus) were selected. The results were consistent across the three income groups.

The purpose of the Impact & Change programme is to increase children’s emotional, physical and social development whilst also providing schools with tangible evidence of its results and benefits. At the start of the 10 week programme, the YogaBugs teacher delivers a short programme to the class teacher, giving them the skills to use breathing and relaxation techniques with children on a daily basis. This helps to reinforce the weekly programme of YogaBugs classes which are based on key texts such as “Giraffes Can’t Dance” and “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” to take children on a magical adventure. These stories provide stimulus for the imagination and are central to the YogaBugs vision.

Classes follow a clear structure with exercises to warm up at the beginning, followed by an adventure into which yoga postures are weaved and a period of relaxation at the end. The class teacher assesses the children’s social, physical and behaviour skills before and after the course. At the end of the programme, the school receives a full report highlighting the changes that have resulted in each of the nine areas assessed.

Fenella Lindsell, founder of YogaBugs explains why the Impact & Change programme has been so effective:

“Many of us practice yoga for the physical benefits we gain in terms of improved mobility, flexibility, strength and stamina but we may not have realized quite how much yoga helps us mentally and emotionally.  We’re really excited by the results that have been gathered from our Impact and Change Programme and feel it is an ideal time to highlight them to more schools nationwide.  The Healthy Schools Programme underlines the importance of emotional well-being.  A child who is confident and happy will be an easier and more responsive child to teach and the child will enjoy learning more as a result.”

Commenting on the success of the programmes, Mark Goode, YogaBugs CEO said:

“YogaBugs programmes have been carefully and specifically designed with the purpose of improving children’s emotional and physical literacy. They target nine main areas based on developing social, emotional, physical and behavioural skills. Our goal is to improve the overall well-being of every child. What is remarkable is that regardless of a child’s background or gender, the YogaBugs programme achieved major improvements across all the nine targeted areas.”

 

YogaBugs To Launch First Emotional & Literacy Study

On Monday, YogaBugs will launch its first ever study about the impact of its Impact & Change programme on the emotional and physical literacy levels of children in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. We evaluated the outcomes for 1222 children, representing a cross-section from low, middle and high income families.

Each school ran an identical  Impact and Change programme. The purpose of this programme was to assess the level of each child (in nine key areas) ‘before’ and ‘after’ they participated in the YogaBugs programme. Our results show a remarkable improvement in the emotional and physical literacy levels of boys and girls from all backgrounds across Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

We’ll be publishing the results on Monday. Meanwhile, you can view Nick Wright, Deputy Head Teacher at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School talking about the benefits YogaBugs classes have brought to his school  in this video on our Gallery. You will find more information about our Impact & Change programme on the Education section of our website.

Why The Benefits Of Yoga Aren’t Just Make Believe

This story in last week’s edition of the Stratford Herald, describing the benefits of YogaBugs classes, came out at the same time as we discovered an article written for The Guardian by Oliver James about why activities  such as yoga and meditation should be a component of school curriculums, at all ages.

Last month, the Stratford Herald sent one of their reporters to find out about the benefits of joining a YogaBugs class. He “flew to Africa” to help friends of Eddie the Elephant organise an amazing birthday party which culminated in a fireworks extravaganza of star jumps to wish Eddie a happy birthday. During the course of this adventure, teacher Rhiannon Perkins took children and their parents through a sequence of yoga postures, aimed at improving posture and flexibility, increasing focus and attention whilst toning and strengthening the body.

Meanwhile Oliver James makes reference to a review in 2009 of studies to evaluate the effectiveness of yoga in children. Whilst the quality and size of the studies was sometimes not as good as it might have been, they demonstrated nevertheless that yoga and meditation have many physical, mental and behavioural benefits. Yoga is a particularly effective activity for children with ADHD with studies showing that yoga reduces it, whilst also boosting self-esteem and relationship quality. Children describe the benefits at home (better sleep patterns, less anxiety) and at school (more able to concentrate, less conflict) whilst their parents report feeling happier, less stressed and better able to manage their child’s behaviour.

If you live in the Stratford Upon Avon and would like to join Rhiannon Perkins on an adventure to a yogic land of make believe, you can contact her at rhiannon@yogabugs.com. For information about classes in your area, see our website at www.yogabugs.com.

 

 

The Key Toys To Help You Support Your Child’s Learning & Development

Would you like to know which toys to buy to help your child to expand their speech and language skills? And ways in which you can use these toys to support language development and overall learning? If so, you’ll be interested in this series of articles about toys as learning tools, written by an American speech therapist as part of her blog. In this series, the author, Katie, explains the key language, cognitive and other skills a child will learn from playing with the toys she has selected. In this extract, Katie talks you through the many skills a toddler can learn simply from playing with a set of stacking cups:

“Stacking/nesting toys are by far one of my most favorite toys for infants and toddlers. I have personally found that our stacking/nesting cups have been the most used and longest used toys that we have ever bought. Here are just some of the language, cognitive and other skills that your infant and toddler can learn by playing with stacking/nesting cups:

  • Preposition concepts of in/out as he nests the different sized cups
  • Preposition concepts of on, under, next to, in front, behind, top, bottom, on, off, and between as he stacks and builds with them.
  • Color concepts
  • Shape concepts (especially if you have different sets of cups in different shapes)
  • Size concepts of big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest; small, medium, large
  • Concepts of full/empty (by filling some cups up with other things like rice, beans, etc)
  • Counting skills
  • Problem solving skills: Figuring out which cups stack on others best, or nest within other best.
  • Fine motor and motor planning skills
  • Cause and effect relationships
  • If the stacking/nesting cups have pictures of animals/letters on them you can also teach these vocabulary words.
  • Other activity idea: Take another small toy (like an animal) and hiding it under a cup and have your infant or toddler find where the toy went.
  • Other activity idea: If you are using plain plastic colored cups, you can draw or tape pictures of any target vocabulary on the cups and use the cups to target this vocabulary (i.e. You can play following directions games with the cups by saying “Put the horse cup on top of the pig cup.”)”

A Yoga Inspired Jungle Routine For MegaBugs

The Resources You’ll Need

-       A copy of the YogaBugs Guide to Popular Yoga Postures, found on the Fun Zone at www.yogabugs.com.

-       “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling or another favourite story book about jungle animals

-       Musical accompaniment for the following songs:

  • Bare Necessities *
  • Colonel Hathi’s March *
  • I Wanna Be Like You *

A soothing piece of music suitable for relaxation

Warm Up

Start by warming up your voices and bodies by singing and dancing along to “Bare Necessities.” Then warm up your bodies with these yoga postures:

Sun Salutations for YogaBugs

Hello Sun: Stand up tall and stretch your arms overhead. Shout “Hello Sun!”

Hello Earth: Bend down to touch the floor into Ragdoll. Shout “Hello Earth!”

Lunge: Step one foot backwards into a lunge, the way runners do when they’re starting a race. Shout “beep, beep!”

Dog Pose: Take both legs back so that your hands and feet are on the floor and your buttocks are in the air (the shape of an upside-down triangle).

Lunge: From dog pose, bring one foot forwards between your hands. Shout “beep, beep!”

Ragdoll: Bring both feet together. You will now be folded forward with your arms and shoulders completely relaxed. Come back to standing.

Repeat this sequence of moves three to four times.

Monkey Jumps: Finish off by doing three to five big star jumps. Start from a squat. Jump up as high as you can whilst making monkey sounds. 

Story Time

Get ready for your adventure into the jungle by singing “Colonel Hathi’s March.” Then read “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling (or your favourite story book about jungle animals). As you read through the story, introduce the yoga postures from the YogaBugs Guide To Popular Yoga Postures.

End with the song “I Wanna Be Like You.”

Winding Down

Sleepy Star: Sitting upright, bring your legs into a diamond shape. Extend your arms out to the side. Sway gently over to one side and then to the other, singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as you do so.

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.

Relaxation Pose: Lie flat on your back, arms at sides, feet slightly apart. Alternatively you could lay your child on your tummy and take the opportunity to massage his/ her back whilst the music is playing. (You could put your legs up against the wall whilst you’re doing this).  Close your eyes and rest. Listen to a soothing piece of music for a couple of minutes.

* If you don’t have CD of these songs or haven’t got them downloaded to ITunes, you’ll find them on You Tube.