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May 13th, 2015

Om With Mom

A lot of moms take pre-natal yoga classes but don't go back to yoga with their babies and toddlers. How can continuing post-natal classes benefit babies and kids?  
Continuing classes after childbirth is extremely beneficial to both mamma and baby for various reasons, but in my opinion the most important is the special connection created during these classes as yoga is one of the only activities out there that fosters a deep emotional parent/child connection. The physical benefits of post-natal yoga are to help new moms rebuild their core muscles after their pregnancy and to ease any ailments going on their bodies due to nursing/carrying baby. As for the babies, they receive a ton of sensory stimulation, verbal cues, organ stimulation, positive play and social interaction. It is also a great way for moms to meet other like-minded moms who can relate to the early stages of motherhood.
Is there a right way to do yoga at home with kids? Any tips on starting an at-home kid-friendly yoga routine? 
Creating a fun environment around yoga is great way to get kids excited about doing yoga at home. Many parents that come to our studio tell us their experience of doing yoga at home is usually when they roll out their mat, and their kids will replicate what they are doing for a few moments and then go play with their toys. Depending on the age of the child, attention spans will vary and that alone is incredibly important to be aware of. Trying to force yoga is never the right way to go. For toddlers 18 months to age 5, we suggest using songs, stories with lots of animals or puppets to grab their attention. Acting out the animal poses while mimicking the noises the animal makes is super fun and a great way to introduce them to yoga. I would say around 15-20 minutes of yoga is great place to start. Another way to develop a yoga routine would be to add it to their bed-time routine if they have one. They can move through a few moon salutations (described below), two-three various "winding down" breathing exercises, and end with legs up the wall.
Moon Salutation: 3X
Stretch up high wave to the moon
Dive down low say goodnight to your toes
Feet step back just like a plank
Belly on the ground just like a snake
Now look at the stars
Now downward dog- take a deep breath
Feet jump up just like a frog
Hang down low say goodnight to your toes
Stretch up high reach for the stars
Mountain pose. 
Talk to us about breathing. How can we incorporate deep breathing practices as a way to calm our kids (and ourselves!)?
Most adults don't like to be told to chill out or calm down right? Kids are the exact same, however they tend to have a much harder time with self control or knowing how to calm themselves down sometimes. Yoga offers so many amazing tools and we have seen the benefits first hand over the past 3 years in business. Teaching kids how to breathe is the first step. Once they have the tools to know what type of breath to use in certain situations, they will be able to pull from their toolbox when a situation arises. We use many different types of visual tools for breath. It is much easier for kids to grasp the concept of deep breathing if they can actually see their breath moving. We use things like feathers or pom poms to show how our breath moves, straws to feel the sensation our breath makes on our bodies, and a Hoberman Sphere to show what is happening inside our bodies when we breath. Talking about how we feel after we take deep breaths is a great way to bring awareness back to the mind/body connection. Here is an exercise you can do with your kids (and you yourself will benefit from it as well) if they are having trouble calming down:
Stop. Drop. And Breathe. 
1. Turn your body into the tiniest seed you could possibly be (childs pose)
2. Place your hands on your back. 
3. Take a deep breath in and feel your ribs expanding into your hands.
4. Repeat 3-5 times- slow deep breaths. 
This exercise brings kids into their bodies and by placing their hands on their backs, they can actually feel their breath moving.
Balloon Breath: 
1. Sit up tall in criss cross yoga sauce (criss cross apple sauce)
2. Take your hands down by your side, palms facing up
3. Trace a giant bubble around you by stretching your arms out and then up, breathing in until your finger tips touch over your head. 
4. Then pop the bubble by breathing out through your mouth and bringing your arms back down by your side. 
5. Repeat 3-5 times.
6. MAKE IT FUN: option to pick what color bubble you are creating 
As the routines of the school year are coming to a close, do you have any tips on channeling some zen into our summer days? 
If you live in Austin, send your kids to one of our awesome yoga camps or afternoon series. If that is not an option for you this summer, there are so many fun ways to bring in the "zenergy" at home. The summer heat is sometimes unbearable, so here is a fun cooling breath exercise you can teach your kids to do when they are feeling extra hot. 
Cooling Breath: 
1. Curl your tongue like a straw. *if you cannot do that, you can use an actual straw or purse your lips*
2. Breath in through your straw tongue slowly and out through your nose. 
3. Repeat 3-5 times. 
You can also start a new morning routine of doing 3 sun dances (sun salutations) right when you wake up! Here is how we like to do ours: 
Stretch up high wave to the sun (stretch your arms ups to the sky)
Dive down low wake up your toes (reach your hands down and touch the earth)
Feet step back just like a plank (step back to plank pose)
Belly on the ground just like a snake (cobra pose)
Now look at the sun (take your gaze up to the sky)
Now downward dog (bottom up to the sky)
Big breath in, breath out with a big woof woof 
Feet jump up just like a frog (jump your hands up to your feet in frog pose)
Hand down low, tickle your toes (reach for your toes)
Stretch up high wave to the sun (stretch your arms back up to the sky)
Mountain pose. (stand tall like a mountain)

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