Kids' yoga is taking off at the tennis club, following the introduction last summer during the multisports camps. Kids really enjoy the mix of fun and focus and finding novel ways to practise together. Some like the more active parts of the session best, and some really prefer the meditation and relaxation at the end: all clearly enjoy it as they keep coming back. This year we added sessions to the Easter sports camps and this summer we've added an extra day each week, now on Wednesdays and Fridays in July and August.
Friday night saw me frantically whizzing back home for extra mats after several more girls than I expected arrived for their relaxation evening at Addlestone Guides. We started with savasana and focused breathwork. After a little mobilisation and a few rounds of Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations), we started our main asana (posture) practice. We had some giggles along the way and rounded off with some guided relaxation, complete with eyebags for those who wanted them. Just 45 minutes to have them feeling completely chilled out.
It was lovely to see how enthusiastic the girls were to try yoga and meditation and there were quite a few questions at the end, and some girls showed me poses they've seen before. A fun evening spent with some lovely young ladies. I look forward to seeing some of them at the new teen yoga classes in the spring
After an initial trickle of stories last year, there seems to be an outpouring now of articles and research concerning how yoga, meditation and mindfulness can improve mental health, not just in adults, but in children and teenagers. In the last few days alone I've read about schools in San Fransisco and in Toronto that have implemented programmes that are providing demonstrable results, and adoption of these programmes is snowballing. By demonstrable, I mean happier children who are behaving more appropriately, willingly, it seems.
This is really great news, especially when you consider that, according to The World Health Organisation (WHO) there are around 350 million people in the world who will suffer from some form of mental illness during their life. And further, according to the WHO factsheet, almost 50% of mental health issues begin before the age of 14. Frightening stuff. So it's great to see the momentum building, and more and more children and young adults being given access to tools and techniques that can help to improve their mental and physical fitness.
PHOTO: Rene Johnston / Toronto Star (c)
Don't fancy sweating it out in an aerobics class, or getting outside in the wind and rain? I don't blame you! Or maybe you'd just like to do something to support all the other activities you are doing...
Why not try the new beginners' yoga class, an informal environment to learn the basics and give you confidence to join any 'all levels' classes or practice at home. Starting Sunday 12th Jan at The Scout Hall Weybridge.
Hatha yoga combines physical exercise and mental discipline, with the goal of integrating and invigorating both body and mind. It is an excellent way to develop muscle tone and increase strength, flexibility and endurance, and is particularly good preparation and/or recovery from other sports, as well as helping to maintain good overall health and combat the stresses of work and modern life.
The stretching in yoga is an excellent way to reduce the effects of stress on your body. Many postures apply gentle pressure to internal organs, stimulating the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid through the tissue. This, combined with controlled breathing with your movements, leads to you feeling invigorated and relaxed at the same time. You do not need to be flexible or fit to practice yoga, it is suitable for all ages and body types. Please contact us for more information. If you have any specific medical conditions please check with your GP and arrive 5 minutes early (or call beforehand) to ensure your yoga teacher is aware and can offer you appropriate alternatives throughout your practice..
See you there!
I read this interesting article about how yoga is helping people in prisons around the world. Some Oxford University research shows some interesting results between a yoga group and a control group (doing exercise). This must be really rewarding for the yoga teachers and is clearly wonderful work.
I can’t help wondering though, if yoga can help transform lives in this way for prisoners, some of whom have had very tough and, let’s face it, unpleasant lives (some of their own doing through poor choices), then what would happen if we dared to teach yoga to children? All children I mean, not just the privileged few. How many of those prisoners could have perhaps made the different choices, despite their environment and situations they found themselves in, that would have enabled them to avoid prison in the first place. Yoga isn’t the answer to everything. We need education, we need to pull people out of poverty, and we need to ensure people have somewhere they can call home, somewhere safe and warm to sleep. And we need to discourage the throwaway, consumerist, selfish behaviours we see across all classes within our society. I’m not suggesting we all walk around in natural fibres, eating beans and stop dreaming of the latest PC games or throw away our mobile phones, but toning down the greed would be good. Developing a self confidence that is based on who we are, not what we have would be good. For us all. Just a thought.
No, I’m not talking about expensive summer holidays, I’m talking yoga. Kids yoga to be precise.
Friday afternoons have never been so much fun as they have this holiday. A welcome relief from the Mon-Thurs commute, and quite frankly, the highlight of my week, has been the kids yoga classes that I’m running as part of summer camp at St Georges Hill Lawn Tennis Club. We’ve had Royal Baby inspired classes, Yoga Challenge themes, and the most amazing trip around the world, with fun (and sometimes quite silly) music from appropriate countries to accompany the postures and movements.
We’ve had bumpy truck rides, rollercoaster rides, we’ve been elephants, lions, pigeons, penguins, sharks and surfers (warrior II). When Prince George showed up we were soldiers, corgis, storks, horses, deer, hares and, of course, we finished our asana practice with ‘happy baby’, what else… This has been one of the most rewarding summers for me, seeing the enjoyment and confidence growing in the children, having fun and acting like a kid with them (all adults should try it once in a while, it’s therapeutic!) and then seeing them all relaxing in their meditation at the end of the class. One group asked for more meditation, the completed 15 minutes, this is a big achievement for 5-12 year olds (the range in that particular class) and the fact they asked for more shows that downtime is sometimes what they really need. No stimulation from TV, computers, games consoles, siblings, parents: just some gentle music and a soothing voice to help them focus their mind, so they can relax fully. There is a great deal of emerging evidence that yoga and meditation provides huge health benefits to children, not only in calming them and managing behaviour and reducing their stress levels, but inspiring them too, building confidence, building strength and courage and most of all, building their self esteem.
I’m actively looking for Weybridge/Walton/Chertsey area venues to run some public kids classes, so watch this space. I can’t wait…
Photo copyright Kanua CLM
I just saw the following on Facebook and thought how pertinent it is, so I thought I would share.
"A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything."
It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down! -author unknown"
From my own experiences, I know that it can be very difficult to put down those stresses. I fully recommend learning some relaxation techniques, I've made a note to blog some of the relaxation and meditation tips that helped me. Watch this space.
I’m a life coach, yoga teacher, communications professional and fitness enthusiast. I’m a closet techie and science boff in my spare time. I’m also part-time slave and taxi driver to a 14 year old.