Tag Archives: yoga

Yoga Class Pet Peeves and Why They Should Matter to Teachers

Having been a practitioner for many years now, and a studio owner/teacher for 10 years, I find I can rarely go to class without assessing the quality of the instruction.  Recently I attended a class at my new gym, which I love.  The instructor seemed like a really nice woman too, but probably not the most professional and that really did affect my external experience. Here are some of my pet peeves (from this class and others) and why they should matter as a teacher, or a student.

1. Entering class noisily and without decorum. When you enter your class it should be peaceful, not in a loud boisterous way, talking with one of your “friends”/students about how wasted everyone was, how you washed his pajama bottoms for him, how stoned you were, etc. just isn’t serene, doesn’t set a nice mood and honestly is too personal to be professional.

2. Hollering – and I mean loudly – at everyone who enters the class (especially when late) to “check” they are actually there (eg: “OMG – is that YOU Holly?!?!”).   Everyone likes to be acknowledged in class, quietly walking up to students to greet them is great for building rapport – ignoring new students – not so much.  My all time pet peeve? Accusingly asking students, “Did you pay for class and sign in up front? I checked the list before I got here and I didn’t SEE any new names,” without introducing yourself, yeah – you probably won’t see too many more new names.

3. Starting class with some long winded discussion about the new moon, how you’re a hippy, and other things that have nothing to do with yoga and are more about yourself and your own life.  Especially annoying when you start forcing your feelings on everyone else by making broad sweeping generalizations and statements.  Not everyone feels the same way you do, get over it, yoga isn’t about proselytizing and you need to meet your students where they are at, not where you think everyone should be.

4. Never looking up from your mat, or even better, never opening your eyes during class.  Personally I’m at the point in my practice where I don’t need someone to correct me, my proprioceptors work pretty well, however; when half your class has a quizzical look on their faces and you haven’t noticed it or more than half have their elbows way too wide for headstand – you may want to get off your own head and check around, do your job, teach a class – try NOT to need your insurance.  Again, professionalism and safety of others – I don’t care if you can do a handstand in the middle of the floor, I’d prefer not to hear people breaking their toes as they kick themselves wildly into the wall to try it too.

5. Mentioning how hung over you are in class.  Do I need to discuss this one? I am quite forgiving of teachers who haven’t mastered all of the poses – I surely haven’t – but I never fall over in a pose or have poor balance because I am hung over and I don’t think I should win a prize for that – its just professionalism rearing its head again.

6. CHakra. Pronounce it correctly. Especially when you seem to be able to use other Sanskrit words like CHaturanga and ardha CHandrasana. In fact, take a class on Sanskrit or pick up a book, it’s an important part of yoga…don’t know why? You should get your money back from your teacher training.

7. Have some idea of how your class is going to go. I never taught from a lesson plan but always knew what I planned on doing and had some contingencies – or at least props near by.  You lose credibility as a teacher and trust when you start to get into a pose and then blurt out “maybe I should have thought this out, we may need props, oh well we are all at different levels – just try it and see.” In the same vain you have to be flexible enough to know when a class isn’t ready for what you thought you would offer and be able to change it up.

8. Music, no music, doesn’t bother me either way.  My teacher trainers never used music and they had solid reasons – but my students always like music so I used it.  Either way I shouldn’t have to strain to hear your instructions, AFAA and ACE both have guidelines for safe listening volumes – yeah that’s right you may want to check out a group fitness training certificate if you plan on teaching in a gym – it makes you more marketable and knowledgeable.

9. Pushing any student to go farther.  Yes, we are here to instruct, to correct, to modify and create healthy poses –  but challenging a student is really their own deal.  I’m not omnipotent so I am guessing neither are other teachers – and I’m not in my students’ bodies so how could I ever dare to verbally assault or physically assault a student into going past their comfort zone? Professional liability wise it should never be done (that’s a talk with your insurance provider), but yogic wise – as in ethically – it definitely isn’t anyone’s place to push a student past their point – the whole ahimsa thing on so many levels comes up – not to mention Patanjali’s thing about “removing the root cause of suffering a pain”… yoga is to REMOVE pain people – not create it.  Any class or teacher that says otherwise…RUN! If you are that teacher and 1).you didn’t know or weren’t told then now you know and yoga is about growth 2). if you believe otherwise do us all a favor and quit teaching.

10. No savasana.  I just hate dislike you now. If you are the student who never stays for this challenging last pose I am sorry that its importance was never truly expressed to you, but if you are the teacher withholding this from class you need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why you teach at all. I love me some savasana – it’s the whole reason I deal with all of the aforementioned crap and don’t walk out the moment you try to recollect some book you read this weekend and how you think the metaphor applies to your life (I was a literature major and an English teacher so this one is a big pet peeve, see #3) please don’t snatch the last bit of redemption away from these 90 minutes.

 

Well, that is my Top 10 List of Yoga Class Pet Peeves.  I hope you found it both humorous and informative as I find most of my opinions to be – since they’re mine.

For all of the sour right before the New Year, here’s a little sweetness from the last kids’ yoga class I taught before I moved from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest.

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#KindAwesome Win a Trip to #Wanderlust California Sweepstakes

This is a sweepstakes offered by Kind bars.  I am in no way involved in Wanderlust or prize fulfillment, in consideration for this post I did receive samples of Kind bars. 

Brush up on your sun salutation because your downward dog could win you a trip to the world’s leading yoga festival.  Want in? Snap a pic you’re your most #kindawesome yoga pose and upload it to the Facebook app for a chance to win a trip for 2 to Wanderlust California at Squaw Valley (7/18 – 7/21) including roundtrip airfare, 4 nights of lodging and 4-day Wanderlust Sage festival passes.

The contest will run from May 29 to June 16th.

dragonfly

Bliss Blew Into My Being Riding On a Blanket Stack

While I have been a yoga teacher for over 1o years I have not always taken the best care of my personal yoga practice.  Running a fitness studio, being a doula and parenting three children did not leave me enough time for my own personal effective yoga practice.  Well, that is a little bit of an untruth.  The real reason I am in pain is because I had not yet let go of ego.

Yes, I said it.  I have in the past had a larger ego than I currently do. Not the healthy type of ego either that keeps us alive and choosing the path of self preservation.  I indulged in the type of unhealthy ego that many individuals with body image disorders do – that ego that compares you and your self worth with everyone else around you.  My ego in particular liked to prey on my feelings of insecurity around my weight and being in an industry fraught with lean, toned, almost impossible to attain bodies bending into ridiculously compressed positions.  So for me, the more I pushed myself into poses, the harder I worked my muscles, the more I ached after a class, or the further I went into a pose the less I worried about people perceiving me as “less than” because of my fuller figure.

I also ran my own business which required me to teach until 40 weeks pregnant, and go back to work less than 2 weeks postpartum in order to pay rent, instructor’s salaries and for groceries.  I wasn’t the type of newly liberated woman who could make the statement  “I’m skipping maternity leave because my job is important” – I would have loved to stay home and relax with my newborns for even a full six weeks, I can’t imagine saying no to a paid maternity leave of any type.

The stage was set for pain.  Ten pound babies, 40 classes a week teaching aerobics and power yoga with hundreds of planks takes a toll on the pregnant and postpartum body.  Sixteen months after my daughter was born I was still experiencing searing pain in my SI Joint (posterior near the hip) and buttocks, my inner groin (I suffered through diastasis symphysis pubis, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone) and my lower back.  I made old man sounds every time I got off the couch, so many that my little sponge of a daughter started to grunt when she would stand up in solidarity with me.

What changed? I started teaching a prenatal yoga class at Yoga-Rhythms in Lisle, IL.  Years ago I used to take Svaroopa yoga with the same owner at a different location, many pounds, children and years ago when I was youthfully flexible and in class just to relax after a workout.  Now I attend classes every two days to manage my pain and release anxiety. And it works. Really works. If you let go.

Letting go is supposed to be a big part of yoga – letting go can’t truly occur if you are getting dressed up with $150 yoga pants to go to class for whatever the reason – because you can, because everyone else does, because your butt looks great, because you saw an ad for them – you are possessed by your possession still. You haven’t let go if you intensely stare at yourself in a mirror while instructed to push yourself as far as possible while your body goes through the stages of heat stroke – and shocker – the teacher leading you isn’t teaching yoga. I’m sorry to say this and I know some people will disagree ardently with me on these points but there is nothing to argue about.  If you care how you look in a pose, if you care about being seen in class, if you care about how far you can go or if you are addicted, drawn to a certain name on the marquee, only feel like you get something out of the practice if you look like you escaped from somewhere, are drenched, red faced, sore – you get the picture – you aren’t practicing true yoga. You are stagnant, stuck within the Annamaya kosha. I was once there too so I know it can seem as though you are truly practicing yoga and you may be going through the motions, making a good show, even living a very yogic life – I was but I wasn’t truly practicing.

blnk Yoga is about “removing the root cause of suffering and pain.” The first sign that my yoga practice wasn’t authentic were anxiety and panic attacks.  Then came pain. I could also say then came some medical conditions (tumors, gallstones, questionable skin tags, etc) but that may not be a fair assumption.  To those on the outside I had a steady yoga practice and taught daily but to me I was missing something – missing that feeling of bliss.  Sure, I took classes where I felt good at the end, felt like I stretched or got a workout, learned something new – but the bliss was missing.

Then I started taking Svaroopa classes again and the bliss blew back into my being it rode in on a stack of blankets.  I left the first class a little sore and if you saw the class from the outside looking in you would have a “What the? How could that be?” expression on your face.  The style is beyond gentle, it involves lots of blankets and propping – lots of letting go and even more self awareness.  You can’t get through more than 5 minutes of a class without hearing “Do you notice the difference?” or “Does it feel different?” or “How do you feel now?” you get the idea, teachers want you to contemplate your practice, something that is missing in many of the fly by night certifications out there. Teachers in this lineage receive a great deal of training I can attest as a yoga instructor with a great deal of training behind me that I had to let go of.  It isn’t that Svaroopa Yoga (now in its 21st year) is that far removed from “ normal yoga” – it is truly ingrained in the heart of yoga – it just isn’t as capitalized or commercialized and that may be why you haven’t heard of this amazing answer to pain problems.

For me it has been a journey of letting go not just of pain but of that evil ego.  Every time I mention this in class a teacher will say “Why do you have an ego about this?” or “why wouldn’t you want to use more blankets, don’t you want to feel bliss?” I do, I do! But my ego has a hard time admitting that all of these years I have been over stretching ligaments and tendons, listening to instructors tell me to go “more straight” or “deeper” into a pose and all the time piling on more pain for myself.  Its hard to look around a class and see “normal students”, average sized men and women of all ages not pushing themselves.  There is no-one to be “more flexible than” no-one to compare myself to and that was the hardest part – realizing my self worth isn’t tied to anyone else’s.

This revelation couldn’t have come at a better time – I’m ready to move on from teaching yoga and start a new/old career in academic teaching.  I have been practicing Vipassana meditation more seriously and learning to wish peace and loving kindness to others in situation where I once may have compared/judged myself. I’ve taken it a step further into wishing happiness to others in their situation instead of feeling jealous or dejected and it is very liberating to be detached. 

Four, maybe five weeks have passed and each class I attend I find new areas to release, I come up against new blocks now that I am getting into the muscles instead of stretching superficial tissues and I am pain-free. The potential to be pain free in one class really does exist, but the more you go – the more you let go. 

New Pop Culture Yoga Book, Definitely will be chart topper

image I received a review copy of this book, I was not compensated in any way and opinions expressed are my own.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I think you can judge it by its press release.

"Heartbreak Yoga" by Amy V. Dewhurst is The Sex and The City of modern day spirituality. It is a humorous, thought provoking,soul searching exploration of the heart organ, the heart chakra, romantic heartbreak, loss, grief, grace, yoga, meditation, mantra, kirtan, and self-care.

I’m not a sycophant and nor do I care to read their work.

Part memoir, part yoga how-to and part self-help this offering is guaranteed to have you laughing, crying, and contemplating this thing called love.
Heartbreak Yoga Includes;
-A balanced yoga practice for beginners
-Tips on holistic cures for heartbreak, grief and healthy living
-A step-by-step guide to getting over your ex
-Hilarious, sweet and sad anecdotes of romantic heartbreak
-Poignant tales of grief from around the world
-Interviews, quotes and contributions on healing from world religious leaders, renown yoga
instructors, kirtan wallahs, UN relief workers, zen roshi caregivers to the dying, comparative
religion and anthropology scholars, cardiologists, holocaust survivors, toddlers, Oscar,
Emmy and Grammy winners, nominees, and even some well-loved pets

I have also grown sick of the capitalization and monetization of yoga.  Everyone crawls out of the woodwork, from behind the bottle, under the drug haze, you name it to write a book on how yoga changes their lives.  They were famous, they were movers and shakers, they were rich and felt life just wasn’t good enough or enjoyable enough so they found yoga. 

About the Author:
Author, producer, yogini Amy V. Dewhurst learned filmmaking from
legends including; Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese, Kirsten Sheridan
and Richard B. Lewis. To balance the demands of the fast-paced film
set lifestyle, Dewhurst began a disciplined yoga practice. She has since helmed Sara
Ivanhoe’s, Yoganation; Mariel Hemingway’s M. Hemingway Heritage; and has produced
conscious content for Oasis Television. Amy is a contributing writer for Origin Magazine,
LA Yoga & Ayurveda Magazine, Common Ground Magazine and The Free Venice
Beachhead Newspaper. She is currently writing her first feature film, is in development on
a television pilot showcasing practical philanthropy and produces "the spiritual Woodstock
of the decade" Bhakti Fest.

The sad thing is, I have known yoga for a long time, in my soul.  I enjoy sharing it with others.  I barely scrape by and am in debt because of my love of helping others, often times through the practice of yoga. I’m like the reverse yoga love story and I am quite sick of reading about how everyone is light and love all the time.

Yoga also is about embracing the dark parts of yourself.  There is a truth in the inner darkness and simply shining a high powered flood light on your life does not change that.  You are still the vapid, shallow, trite person you always were – now you just get to throw a prayer shawl over your shoulders when you strut around bathing in self-love.  Trust me, there is enough self adoration going around in the yoga world.

Uh-oh, I’m being a debbie downer, un yogic, what have you – I am speaking my truth because I am fed up and ready to move on.  In the yoga world there is a Catch 22, you can’t call someone out on being fake, on being a money hungry capitalist because then you are being judgmental, un yogic, you name it – its all very political. Seriously – because the ones telling you that you shouldn’t and can’t seem to get caught up in as many sex scandals as those in Washington these days.  I love the idea of the Dalai Lama but be serious for a moment, the man has been in exile for decades with no real end in sight and he is now no more than a pop icon to celebrities who drag him out to show their spiritual sides.

Wow, I have really digressed.  So let me get back to the book – the forward – hated it. The dedication – taking a word or idea like Pranam and belittling the meaning by making it akin to thanking your publicist, models, etc. yeah – you can figure out where I stand on that one – the whole usurping of other cultures for more personal gain and “street cred”. The introduction – LOVED IT! No, seriously.  I know I just slammed a whole lot of things but the intro was well written, engaging and captivating – why, because it was authentic. Then the book lost me again by trying to shove too much down my throat, because in the middle of finding out your mom had a heart attack you definitely think your “ precious law of attraction self” wasn’t sure your subconscious mind created everything. How do I know this? Over a decade teaching and two decades practicing – my son has epilepsy and during a seizure I have never once engaged mula bandha to stop my energy from flowing out my asshole to keep at bay that “I may shit myself with fear” feeling that he could die this time.  Never once in an ER, or in a hospital stay did I consciously say “whatever is best for {his} soul will occur” – oh I prayed – I made deals with anything and anyone not to take my baby from me.  So maybe I am not even on the path to enlightenment but I am present every moment with my children, I relish every whiff of their soft skin, every gentle caress they give me as they fall asleep next to me – to me that is yoga.

The writing just jumps around like a jack russel who hasn’t been outside for a while with terse breakdowns of philosophy, anecdotes, and quotes from
celebs” which seem to be willy nilly thrown in without an overall plan. As if finding out that Mariel Hemingway knows heartbreak is somehow relevant to the average woman – well, maybe the type who likes Sex in the City and I think that is where I will close this review.

This book was obviously not for ME. That does not mean this book is not for YOU. If you like name dropping, if you want yoga tied up into a pretty bow, or a chapter that is merely 4 pages long with psychology stages anyone can Google, this book could be for you.  There are people who prefer RedEye to the Economist.  As I used to argue in philosophy class, if you find enjoyment from mud wrestling it is no less valid a pleasure than someone who finds enjoyment from an opera. If you like to read US, People, and pop culture mags, tabloids what have you – this is YOUR book and I in no way mean this as an insult, I just do not consider this book on par with some of the more serious academic works on the market. That being said, I am 100% sure that this book will be a chart topper.

Most Comprehensive Yoga for Children Book Great for Parents and Teachers

image001 I received a copy of this book for review and was not compensated, all opinions expressed are my own.

Children today are bombarded by stimuli coming from every direction—technology, work duties, and pressure to succeed in every aspect of life—academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Studies have shown that children, like adults, need the time to reconnect and recharge, building the self-awareness and resiliency they need to succeed and be healthy.

Lisa Flynn, E-RYT, RCYT, Founder of ChildLight Yoga® and Yoga 4 Classrooms®, has created a helpful resource for educators, parents, and pediatric professionals who wish to give the children in their care the gift of holistic health, through the use of yoga and mindfulness-based tools for living: Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children (Adams Media, an F+W Media company, Spring 2013).

As a long-time yoga practitioner, Founder of Yoga 4 Classrooms®, and a parent herself, Lisa knows firsthand how incorporating yoga into one’s lifestyle can lead to health benefits that go well beyond the physical. “The good news is that yoga overrides the stress response, short circuiting the fight-or-flight hormones. That’s true for both adults and children. When we do yoga, we learn tools for self-regulation and stress resilience as we develop mental and physical focus, strength, balance, flexibility, and overall health.”

I really wasn’t sure that the yoga community needed another children’s yoga book, but I have to admit I loved this book and will be selling several of my other kids’ yoga books and keeping this one instead. Why? First, I am trying to declutter my overall life a very yogic idea but hard to manage in a family of five filled with never ending clutter. Second, we are moving so I have limited myself to one tub of books from my extensive collection so I need to become more discerning with my collection. Third, this book literally combines several of my favorite children’s yoga books in one place, but does so in a new and refreshing way.

The book starts by debunking yoga myths – as is typical of every book – yoga is not a religion, this one I beg to differ on but that is for a time when I can sit down and really delve deep. There is a large amount of type to this book, it is not a picture book but at the same time it is not a dry read. There are great sections on how to get started with little tips like “how to make a no sew eye pillow” that incorporates the idea of upcycling materials to create a whole new and usable product.

The yoga principles are broken down in digestible portions easily explainable to children with suggested readings and books, examples and practices.  There are two wonderful chapters on image003breathwork (pranayama) and meditation for children with actual practices that would work for younger yogis.  The asanas were translated for the most part from Sanskrit, but a few were still made up, I personally prefer to work with the given classical name and maybe a cutesy name in parenthesis. At least the names were cute though.

The chapter with chants and songs was a nice addition especially when well known tunes were referenced for use.  The sequences had bold photos and my overall favorite part were the co-operative team building games.  After a decade teaching I still find it hard to locate team skill, team co-operation building “ropes course” like games.

Truly this a well thought out, well written book aimed at parents but definitely invaluable to teachers looking to utilize yoga in the classroom or studio.

Yoga Wisdom at Work Can Help You Create a More Productive Career

k4716916 I received a review copy of this book, I was not compensated in any way and the opinions expressed are my own.

I honestly did not think I was going to enjoy this book.  It started like every self-indulgent yoga book on the market does, “I was making a ton of money and felt incomplete…I found yoga….I’m writing about my my transformation…you can transform too!”  For once I would like to story of my life to unfold.  I always knew yoga was what I wanted to teach, I taught it and owned a studio for tens years.  I made no money, met some nice people, met some really not nice people, lost a lot of money trying to help people and now I am changing careers. 

Well, you can see I am a little jaded at the moment, but I still opened up the book and read past the introduction which was all that I had feared it would be and I was surprised.  I really enjoyed what I was reading and it made sense. Maren and Jamie Showkeir’s book brings into focus yoga’s rich, transformational benefits. Based on the traditional Eight Limbs of Yoga it offers straightforward, practical suggestions on how to integrate yoga’s ancient philosophy and beautiful spiritual principles into the modern workplace.

The Showkeirs know firsthand how yoga’s wisdom can make work—and life—more rewarding and worthwhile. They explain each of yoga’s tenets and show how a broad, steadfast practice leads to a productive, creative, and energizing work environment. The book offers illuminating stories from people in professions such as banking, law enforcement, film directing, education, and more. These living examples illustrate how yoga’s teachings reduce stress and increase meaning and satisfaction at work, they are also just what I personally love.  I like a little voyeurism, a peek into someone else’s life when I read.  The stories hit home, they make the process seem more real and meaningful, they do their job.

The Showkeirs believe passionately that a physical practice alone will barely scratch the surface of yoga’s transformative powers. Much more than a simple how-to book, Yoga Wisdom at Work is an invitation to use the Eight Limbs to cultivate the spark of the divine that dwells within each of us. Yoga’s precepts offer you the keys for staying centered, compassionate, positive, and sane every hour of the day—including from nine to five. This is a big divergence from most books that deal only with the physical practice of yoga.  As a yoga teacher I can attest that most individuals want to focus on the physical asanas, barely scraping the surface of the real meaning and power of yoga.  This book definitely delves deeper.  It doesn’t give you a list of asanas to perform, it challenges you to create a more flexible mind and to open up to new ways of thinking.

Insights revealed in Yoga Wisdom at Work:
·      Practicing the precepts contained within yoga’s First Limb have a direct influence on your chances for succeeding at work: non-violence, non-lying, non-squandering of vital energies and non-greed.
·      Practicing influences how you treat others at work. For example, practicing non-violence (ahimsa) increases awareness of destructive behaviors like gossip, manipulation, lack of compassion for your coworkers. It also helps you spot more subtle forms of disrespect, such as ignoring people you don’t like, shutting down others’ ideas, or making decisions that affect the jobs and lives of others without their input.
·      Satya, the non-lying precept, is the foundation of trust. Practicing satya includes speaking up and contributing your ideas and concerns about work decisions to contribute to business u26950682 success. 

·      Dealing with resistance is one way to practice of ishvara-pranidhana—it will help you align your actions with what is best for the business rather than focus only on what is good for your career, your team, your department.
·      Learning to harness the power of your breath through the yoga practice of pranayama can create clarity and focus, boost your energy when it’s flagging, or calm you down when situations get heated.
Maren Showkeir and Jamie Showkeir are the principals of henning-showkeir & associates, inc., a workplace consulting firm. Maren, a certified yoga teacher, has been a committed practitioner for more than fifteen years. Jamie is a longtime meditator and developed an asana practice in 2005. They are the coauthors of Authentic Conversations: Moving from Manipulation to Truth and Commitment.

Publication date: May 2013, $15.95, paperback, 192 pages, 5½" x 8½", ISBN 978-1-60994-797-2
PDF ebook, ISBN 978-1-60994-8

Pregnancy Health Yoga Book Explores Bump, Birth and Beyond

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I was contacted to review this new book that is out in March.  I received no compensation and all opinions expressed are my own and given freely.

Let me start by saying I wasn’t impressed by the introduction that states you can start the book after your “12-14 weeks scan” after clearance from your
“doctor”.  I was under the impression that the UK was more midwife friendly, in turn meaning less intervention friendly and anyone into gentle natural birth I had assumed would keep propaganda such as this out of their book when a simple, “12-14 weeks pregnant” and “care provider” would suffice.

With the introduction out of the way I could focus on the bulk of the book which was very impressive.  Full color photos accompanied many if not all of the postures, each section started with affirmations for the expectant mother (something I have become very fond of in my own practice) and very detailed instructions.  I was familiar with all of the postures and found them to be well explained.  With any book you can always find subjective points to take issue with.  As I have progressed as a yoga teacher and doula over the last decade I have been made aware of some flaws in my past thinking and teaching.  One such flaw that I had was the need for all pregnant women at all times of pregnancy to “tuck the tailbone under” as shown on page 54.  After a recent training in prenatal education an interesting point was brought up about birth position, fetal position and pregnancy posture.  The optimal birth position is a supported squat that allows the tailbone to move away from the pubis and create space for the baby’s head.  Too much tucking during pregnancy can have a deleterious effect on what is actually a natural change in the body.  Weight does shift forward and create a slight anterior pelvic tilt for a reason, to place baby in the optimal birth position. I agree that lengthening the spine can alleviate lower back compression, but pregnant women should not worry about tucking the tailbone all the time unless they are experiencing pain symptoms.

I also thought the example on page 105 of leaning into the hands could be a little too much for some moms to handle.  The women in the photo is in a pose similar to ustrasana (camel pose) by the last frame, a more appropriate pose that would lessen the compression of the lower back that you can visibly see would be a tabletop (shown in the postnatal section) with the hips lifted, knees bent, feet on the floor firmly – it would accomplish the task of “leaning into the hands” without the possibility of overstretching the ligaments and bands in the front.  Sadly I speak from experience on this one, I do not recommend anything close to back bending unless it is fully supported during pregnancy.

After more than a decade teaching prenatal and postnatal yoga I have not found a more complete and user friendly guide than Pregnancy Health Yoga.  After baby there is a small postnatal section in the back of the book. It also comes with a 30 minute supplemental restorative yoga DVD that follows the outline provided by the book. You can use this to help you better visualize what the book outlines, or to prep you for your first prenatal yoga class. Had I not been a yoga instructor during all three of my pregnancies I would have definitely enjoyed a book such as this, it even contains brief “birth stories” in the margins.

Lee and Attwood have created this accessible guide and DVD of key practices that takes moms-to-be through every stage of pregnancy, birth, and beyond.  They explain breath work and provide guided meditations and visualizations; illustrated step-by-step routines; a directory of postures that target common pregnancy-related ailments; and exercises to get back in shape after giving birth. This is a definite baby shower gift or congratulations on your pregnancy announcement present.

Childcare Workers, Parents, Teachers Creative Yoga for Children can Help get Kids Active

image I started my yoga career as a children’s yoga teacher, after leaving the academic teaching world behind.  Over the years I have taught yoga to children in varied environments and have often times considered the undertaking of writing a book outlining lesson plans.  With this background I was excited to be offered a review copy of Creative Yoga for Children by Adrienne Rawlinson.

If you were not aware, a recent study by California State University, Los Angeles found that yoga improves students’ behavior, physical health, academic performance, and attitudes toward themselves. A perfect resource for schools seeking to incorporate yoga and mindfulness programs into their curriculum, or for parents to encourage body-mind awareness at home, Creative Yoga for Children promotes physical, emotional, and social development through stress reduction, movement, and free exploration.
Montessori and registered yoga teacher Adrienne Rawlinson presents forty one-hour lessons in a fun, accessible fashion to allow children ages 4–12 to learn at their own pace and in a cross-curriculum fashion. Activities are broken down by age categories, and each includes setting an intention, physical warm-ups, breath work, specific yoga poses, meditation and gratitude exercises, and more.

This book is a cornucopia of ideas and I love the variety of lesson plans given.  I especially appreciate the objectives (intention) and educational elements sections as a teacher.  Although many of my classes are taught without these, when I teach in environments that receive federal money for education programming many of them require objectives and educational elements to be outlined.  Truly, even with my decade of experience teaching yoga I could not have written a more complete book.  Many of the lessons were similar to ones I myself already teach, but there were definitely some new ones I had not thought of and elements added in that I have not explored, such as using “cardboard letters” in a 4-6 year old lesson on words and sounds.  For those new to teaching yoga, or new to working with kids the developmental breakdowns are definitely useful.  There is nothing worse than showing up to a class expecting 12 year olds to moo and meow with you through cow and cat pose and get a sea of blank (or even worse horrified) pre-teen faces staring back at you from their mats.

Q. Your book is broken down into three age groups (4–6, 7–9, 10–12). What is the significance of starting at age 4? Is there a benefit to starting earlier or is this the earliest age for kids to become actively engaged with yoga?

A. The program offered in my book is quite structured and I have observed that children under the age of four benefit more from a yoga routine that is more playful, and they are developmentally often not ready for a structured one hour class. However, they are not too young to be introduced to the world of yoga. I have two and a half year olds in my Montessori class who love to do a few minutes of yoga every day, choosing pose cards from a basket to do on a mat by themselves or with a friend. Babies and toddlers can reap the benefits of yoga and there are many age appropriate
programs out there. Setting the stage for a lifetime of yoga benefits really starts at birth.

The Appendixes provide a list of books to use, craft idea, photos of partner poses, and then a list of poses broken down into groupings (such as mammals, sea life, etc). Here is where I always break away from authors, especially of children’s yoga books.  Almost all of the asanas are already named after animals or their movement.  The tale being that the yogic sages observed nature around them and this is how the poses were named (ie: downward dog, peacock, cobra).  For preservation and integrity purposes (both culture and physiological) I see no reason to create new names for poses, or rename poses that already have an apropos name. This is just a pet peeve of mine and by no way should it keep readers from purchasing this outstanding book.

Rawlinson provides a wonderful backdrop for teachers and parents to create their own fun and integrative yoga practice for the children in their lives.  But what if you are afraid of the chaos that could ensue after starting this undertaking? The author provides a great bit of sound advice, so now there is no reason to fail to introduce the children in your life to yoga!

Q. How do you bring focus back when kids get distracted in class?

A. The children sometimes get very boisterous and silly when doing some of the group activities and games, so it is important that I have an effective way of bringing them back to center and calm them, so they are ready for the next part of the class. I usually introduce chimes, a Tibetan singing bowl, or a special gong of some sort at the beginning of class. I ring it to let them know that they should come back to their mats, sit in their favorite sitting pose, and get ready to listen. They are generally wonderful at responding to this.

About the Author:
A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Adrienne Rawlinson is a certified Montessori teacher and registered
yoga teacher. She studied yoga under Maureen Rae in Toronto and Erich Schiffmann in Chicago. Knowing that she wanted to
offer the gift of yoga to children, she put together her program, drawing from her yoga and Montessori teaching experience, and
she began offering afterschool and weekend workshops to children in her area. She currently teaches Montessori and yoga in
Oakville, Ontario.

I received no compensation for this post, the opinions expressed are my own, some material was provided by a third party.