Happy Christmas From The YogaBugs Team!

Happy Christmas From The YogaBugs Team
This will be our last post in 2011 so we wanted to thank you for following our blog and wish you a very, very happy Christmas.We’ll be back in the New Year with lots of ideas for yoga inspired activities you can do with your kids. If you’ve not looked at our Fun Zone before, you’ll find some ideas here for simple routines you can do as a family with your kids, colouring-in sheets and a story. If you’re not familiar with all the postures, they’re all in our new booklet, ” Popular YogaBugs Postures.”


New Story On Our Fun Zone!

In time for the holidays, we’ve added the first story to our fun zone – An Intergalactic Adventure! The story will take you and your kids into outer space where you’ll meet dinosaurs, cyber men and surf down mountains on the moon. Your mission is to retrieve Jurij, a Russian Astronaut, who has been left on the moon. So it’s YogaBugs to the rescue to bring him back down to planet Earth.

If you’re not familiar with all the yoga postures, worry not! We’ve put together a booklet containing our most popular YogaBugs postures and you’ll find this on the fun zone too.

Have you discovered our yoga routines to do at home with the kids? For over-excited YogaBugs, you could try out our calming bedtime routines, also available on the fun zone.


New NHS Statistics Show That Weight Problems Among Children Are On The Increase

New NHS statistics show that nearly a quarter of children are overweight or obese by the time they start primary school, and more than a third are unhealthily heavy by the time they leave. The data, based on measuring the height and weight of more than a million pupils in England, has prompted calls for renewed government action to tackle what experts are calling the “childhood obesity crisis”.

According to the latest annual figures from the National Child Measurement Programme, in 2009-10 9.8% of four- and five-year-olds were classed as obese when they arrived in reception class; however among 10- and 11-year-olds in year six, this figure had almost doubled to 18.7%. Almost one in four reception pupils were either overweight or obese – 23.1% – while among year six children the figure was 33.4% – more than a third of all children. Both figures are slightly up on last year, confirming the continuing rise in the number of young children with weight problems.

Yoga Consultant For Waybaloo and YogaBugs Founder, Fenella Lindsell said:

We’re very concerned about the physical competence and health outcomes of this and future generations and that’s why we’re absolutely committed and passionate about changing children’s lives. Our number one priority is nurturing a love and appreciation for physical exercise and healthy living in our young children.”

A Department of Health statement said: “While the results show that the numbers are levelling out, there are big differences depending on where we live. Obesity is more of a problem in the poorest areas. Children who are overweight could face serious health problems later in life.”

Obesity leads to a range of conditions that compromise health and shorten life. Most notably, it is a precursor to type 2 diabetes as well as hypertension, sleep apnoea, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disease and a number of cancers. The cost to the society is huge, and the consequences include rising health-care costs, lost productivity and untold human unhappiness. For children the costs include:

  • Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem
  • Social isolation and poor self-image making them targets for bullying
  • Asthma
  • Decreased Test Scores in School
  • Increased Likelihood for a Lower Future Income
  • Increased School Absences
  • Link to decreased activity and exercise level as adolescents and adults
  • Decreased gross motor skills (big muscle skills)
  • Decreased fine motor skills (hand writing and coordination)
  • Decreased ball sport skills
  • Decreased motivation to try new skills or enter new situations

Whilst childhood obesity is a serious problem, the problem goes far beyond childhood obesity and the associated poor health outcomes. Recently Sally Goddard Blythe, Director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, concluded that up to half of children were not ready for school at the age of five because of their “sedentary lifestyles”. This was because pre-school children found it difficult to grip pencils properly, sit still, stand up straight and even catch a ball after failing to develop key physical and communication skills at a young age.

New YogaBugs Classes Starting….

What Is YogaBugs?

We’re delighted that the following six people have recently completed their training with YogaBugs and will be starting classes in the New Year. 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.

Jane Swayne – YogaBugs Wessex

E: janeswayne@yogabugs.com  T: 0845 863 0690

Jane has worked with children for 16 years at a boarding school with the role of Head of Community Services, Boarding Staff Co-ordinator and Duke of Edinburgh’s (D of E) Award Leader. In 2003 Jane set up and ran the Kosovo Youth Education Programme (KYEP). The KYEP ran community programmes and annual Summer Schools for orphans of the Balkan war and worked with young people from all ethnic groups, inc those with special needs. Jane has been practicing yoga for 35 years and also trained as a contemporary dance teacher in the 80’s.

 Danielle (Dani) Denton – YogaBugs (name tbc in Berkshire area)

E: Danielle@yogabugs.com  T: 0845 863 0692

Dani is a mother of 2 young children and a health and fitness professional with 11 years industry experience teaching a variety of group and 1-2-1 exercise programmes. After working long hours in her previous role, Dani has taken on the YogaBugs Franchise to be able to spend more time with her family whilst teaching YogaBugs classes and passing on the great benefits we offer to children.

 Jane Couper – Teacher Representative Glasgow

Jane works with children of a variety of ages and their parents to provide nutritional support and advice.  Jane also has seven years of experience as a gymnastics coach working with children of all ages from pre-school through to club level. Jane has been practicing yoga for 3 years and as a mother of 3, she is aware of the very positive and calming influence yoga can have on children.

 Emma Maeer – Teacher Representative Southampton

Emma initially trained with YogaBugs working for the Southampton franchise. Emma has re-trained and is excited to be setting up her own classes. Emma is a trained dance teacher and has worked with children of all ages from babies to primary school and secondary school children. Emma completed a British Wheel of Yoga foundation course in 2009 and has been practicing yoga for 11 years.  Emma is recently back from maternity leave  and is excited to start teaching YogaBugs again.

Emma Thomas – Teacher Representative Sutton Coldfield

 Emma has experience of working with children as a classroom assistant in a primary school as well as working with in a nursery for a short time. Emma is also a freelance PR/writing consultant. She has 2 daughters and is excited to join her passion for working with children, with her passion for yoga which she has been practicing for over 14 years.

Laura Sykes – Teacher Representative Brighton

Laura has recently graduated from University with a BSc in Geology and has a 4 year old son who she looks after full time. Laura has been practicing yoga for several years and admires the YogaBugs ethos and unique way that we tackle issues  such as increasing confidence in little ones.

The One Bug You Shouldn’t Get: A YogaBugs Guide To Winter Health (Part 2)

Stress is the immune system’s worst enemy. Whether you’re dealing with a brief bout of craziness like Christmas shopping, or other stressors, your body’s ability to fight germs is compromised by physical and mental tension. This is where meditation can help. Research shows that even 10 minutes of daily meditation reduces the physical symptoms of stress. One study found that people who attended an eight-week mindfulness meditation class (a three-hour class once a week, plus daily meditation for an hour) ended up with stronger immune systems than those people who didn’t. Researchers believe that the meditation-induced relaxation boosted the group’s immunity. Over time, high levels of stress hormones dampen the immune system. By practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction, you will counter-act the effects of stress and your immune system will benefit.

2. Explore Ayurveda

When stocking your natural-medicine kit this season, don’t forget the Ayurvedic herbs, ashwagandha and turmeric. Both are clinically proven to bolster flagging immunity. Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) is a powerful immune-system builder, supporting the nervous system and giving the body the ability to cope with stress. Taking ashwagandha helps to guard against colds and flu. Turmeric is beneficial for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. When cooking with turmeric, you can add a pinch of black pepper to increase its potency, but you need to take supplements to get a truly medicinal dose. If you feel a cold coming on,  you can take a dose every two hours to stop the cold taking hold.

3. Have Fun

Plan a fun night with friends as it may keep you healthy. Earlier this year researchers at Loma Linda University in California discovered that looking forward to an event boosts immunity. They compared the stress levels of two sets of students—one group was anticipating a positive experience; the other group was feeling neutral. Those in the first group had lower levels of stress hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline), which are known to weaken the immune system over time. In 2001 the same researchers discovered that laughter increases immunity.

4. Pick a Natural Kick

Energy wanes in the winter when sunlight is scarce. Jump-starting your engine every day with a triple espresso may undermine your immune system. Caffeine stresses the adrenals, the glands that sit above the kidneys and support the body’s immunity and energy. Instead of lattes, try brewing a cup of nettle tea the next time an afternoon coffee craving strikes. It’s a gentle energizer for those mid-afternoon lows.

The One Bug You Shouldn’t Get: A YogaBugs Guide To Winter Health (Part 1)

Although it’s the season of celebrating with friends and family, you’ll probably have a seemingly endless to-do list to get ready for the festive season. To help you ensure holiday plans don’t get derailed by a winter bug, here’s our yoga guide to keeping well over winter. Part 2 follows on Wednesday.

1. Just Add Water

To ward off germs close to home, just add water to the air and to your body. Researchers recently linked the spread of the flu to winter’s low humidity as moisture may be a natural weapon against airborne germs. The theory is that germ-infused droplets from sneezes and coughs stay airborne longer in dry air. However moisture in the air makes the droplets grow too large to float and so they fall to the ground. This makes it less likely that you’ll inhale them. If someone in your family has the flu, running a humidifier in a shared space, like a living room, may help ground germs.

It’s important to keep your body well-hydrated too as low humidity can also dry out the mucous membranes. Drinking six to eight glasses of water or another non-caffeinated beverage each day will help to keep your body well-hydrated.

2. Strike a Heart-Opening Pose

An easy way to avoid getting colds and flu is to practice some heart-opening poses, such as Cobra Pose, Fish Pose and Bridge Pose. Heart opening poses stimulate blood flow to the thymus, an organ nestled behind the breastbone that is instrumental in the growth of T-cells, the immune system’s frontline. We recommend you practice all three asanas once daily for prevention and twice daily if you feel a cold or flu coming on. The reason heart-opening poses are so beneficial when you’ve got a cold is that they help to open up the respiratory system. Doing these three poses only takes five minutes and may make the difference between staying well and getting sick this winter.

3. Keep Moving

To prime your immune system, you should get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Recent research found that the risk of catching a cold was three times as high for women who did only low-intensity exercise, like stretching, as for women who combined strength training and moderate cardiovascular exercise, such as walking on a treadmill or pedalling a stationary bike. One explanation for this is that increasing your heart rate speeds up the circulation of white blood cells, making it more likely they will seek and destroy germs early on.

4. Drink Soup

Sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup on a winter day is a great culinary defence over the cold and flu season. To boost immunity, we should eat a varied diet, and a pot of soup is one of the best ways to do that. Here at YogaBugs Mission Control, we’ve been making up batches of soup from the New Covent Garden Soup book. As there are so many tasty recipes to try, we freeze a batch so there’s always a portion to hand.

Soup has the potential to be nutrient dense on every level because the stock itself contains so many amazing antioxidants and phytochemicals. You can prepare it in advance and freeze it in four-cup portions (or if you’re short on time, organic store-bought stock is a good alternative). Then, simply add fresh, immunity-boosting ingredients in whatever variety and quantity you have on hand, and simmer until they’re tender.

Which ingredients are your best bets for staying well? Topping the charts is garlic, for its potential antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Next, vegetables rich in beta carotene (think colourful carrots, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes) are vital immune boosters, providing vitamin A and protecting the thymus, the major gland of our immune system. Not surprisingly, broccoli also makes the cut. Studies show that this vitamin C powerhouse contains sulforaphane, which triggers antioxidant genes and enzymes in certain immune cells. And finally don’t forget dark leafy greens. Kale is a detoxifier, bursting with B and C, beta carotene, iron, and zinc.

 5. Make the Most of Mushrooms

Mushrooms supercharge your immune system by increasing the number of disease-fighting white blood cells in your bloodstream. Maximizing your intake of mushrooms is easy. Just add them to your next pot of vegetable soup. Toss in dried mushrooms at the start and simmer to release their full range of beneficial compounds. Add sliced fresh mushrooms near the end to preserve their delicate shape and flavour. For an extra immunity boost, look for dried medicinal mushrooms, such as chaga and reishi which also come in supplement form.

Inspiration Corner: How Yoga Benefits Kids In A Tough Baltimore Neighbourhood

“I’d probably be somewhere on the streets, doing something I shouldn’t be doing. I would have gone astray.  I probably wouldn’t be here. Having this in my life was definitely a blessing.”

We’ve just learnt about the inspirational work of the Holistic Foundation, a non-profit organisation running yoga programmes for kids in a high crime, high poverty, run-down neighbourhood in Baltimore. Children have learnt how to use yoga and meditation to help them to deal with the stresses of living in such a tough environment. As a consequence, their self-esteem and self-assurance has increased, and they’ve learnt new ways of manage their anger and frustration. Those benefiting from the programme talk moving about why yoga and meditation has proved such an effective way of managing their stress – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40153870/vp/45590288#45590288.

Founders, brothers Ali and Atman Smith met Andres Gonzalez at the University of Maryland College Park. During their last semester there, the trio spent a lot of time reading books on spirituality, philosophy and other related topics. They wondered about what they could do to address the problems they could see but what that something was, they had no idea. During this time they developed their own yoga practice under the guidance of Ali and Atman’s godfather. As young children, Ali and Atman actually grew up with yoga in their home, with their father having them meditate every morning before school. “Our parents were big hippies. They were into yoga, vegetarianism, and all that kind of stuff.”

At the end of that summer, the trio moved back to West Baltimore. Ali and Atman immediately noticed that the sense of family that was present in the neighbourhood when they grew up there was gone. When they were living there as children, the neighbourhood was like one big family, and the “older guys” in the neighbourhood served as mentors and big brothers to all of the younger kids. They saw that as an important factor in their own growth and development. They knew that they wanted to do something to help bring that feeling back to their neighbourhood. In response they planned and developed the formation of a non-profit organisation. After months of hard work, on December 19th, 2001, the Holistic Life Foundation was officially incorporated.

How To Support The National Literacy Trust Campaign: Give The Gift of Reading

 National Literacy Trust

The National Literacy Trust’s latest report reveals that the number of children who do not own a book is increasing. Seven years ago 1 child in 10 did not have a book of their own while today the figure stands at a startling 1 child in 3. That’s a staggering 3.8 million children! In response to the findings, the NLT has launched its Christmas Gift of Reading fundraising appeal.

The decline in children’s book ownership is of particular concern as the report shows that the number of books in the home is directly linked to children’s reading levels. Of those who have books of their own, more than half are above average readers while a third read at the expected level. The research also found that children and young people who read a book a week or more are more likely to enjoy reading and to do better at school.

In light of these findings the NLT is asking the public to give the Gift of Reading this Christmas by making a donation which could give a disadvantaged child a book of their own for the first time.You can buy the ‘gift’ for yourself or give the unique present to the booklover in your life. Those giving the Gift of Reading will be able to choose an exclusive Christmas card designed by a children’s author.

Find out more about the appeal and give the Gift of Reading.

Inspiration Corner: How Incorporating Yoga Into The School Curriculum has Improved Learning Outcomes

Excitement was high at YogaBugs Mission Control today when we learnt of a news report about a school in California, Kipp Summit Academy, which has incorporated yoga into its daily curriculum. The Head Teacher tells how he saw the benefits early on; since the programme started, suspensions are down 60% and test scores have risen! Here the kids talk movingly about why they enjoy their daily yoga classes:


Headstand Goes To School runs these classes. Their evaluation of the benefits of the programme mirrors the results of YogaBugs own Impact & Change programme which include:

  • Increased concentration and focus
  • Reduced stress
  • Greater physical fitness and flexibility

A number of independent research studies support YogaBugs the outcomes we’ve found:

  • A 2009 University of Sydney study found that yoga reduced impulsive behaviour and ADHD behaviours in students enrolled in schools for disruptive behaviour;
  • A 2008 study by Powell, Gilchrist and Stapely found that a combined yoga, massage, and relaxation program gave students improvements in self-confidence, social confidence, communication and contribution in class;
  • A 2004 study by Jensen and Kenny found that yoga improved attention and emotional control in ADHD students. There was a reported reduction of mood swings and temper outbursts;
  • A 2003 study by California State University, Los Angeles found that yoga improved students’ behaviour, physical health and academic performance, as well as their attitude toward themselves;
  • A 2003 study by Leipzig University reported that yoga reduces feelings of helplessness and aggression, and in the long term helps emotional balance.

If you’d like to find out more about our Impact & Change programme, check out this link.