Thoughts on yoga for children, yoga and parenting, family, health, our community, mom-owned businesses, and other things we love.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Power of Visual Imagery for Children

What do children enjoy the most in yoga class? 8 out of 10 of my students would say it's the visualizations we do at the end of nearly every class. In fact, I have many students come into yoga class and immediately ask for them. When I teach in schools, it's the same thing. "Are we going to go on an imagination vacation today, Miss Lisa?? Can we please?"

The use of visualization or creative imagery during relaxation can be quite powerful for kids. Many children find it difficult to quiet their sometimes very overactive minds. Using creative imagery can give these children something to focus on, easing their way to relaxation. In ChildLight Yoga classes, we help children to concentrate, focus and/or relax by guiding them through visual imagery exercises or stories. Children can also be guided to bring their awareness, or energy, to various parts of their bodies. This is the practice of yoga at its best – the unifying of body and mind!

But, when chosen and scripted with care, visualizations can do much more than help to quiet the mind. That is why we are thrilled to have discovered Dr. Charlotte Reznick in our online research! She has written a new book titled, The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success (Perigee, 2009, $14.95).

Here are some interesting quotes from other authors regarding this book and it's focus on giving children the gifts of visual imagery:

“Simple, practical, brilliant. What a wonderful world it will be when all families give their children the gifts presented in Dr. Reznick’s book. Joy, success . . . and health and happiness are just around the corner!” — Harvey Karp, MD, FAAP, creator of the book & DVD The Happiest Toddler on the Block

“Dr. Reznick offers a revolutionary approach for parents to help their children handle fears, worries, and self- doubt. Her simple, accessible advice allows kids to develop their self- esteem while creatively tackling problems. This book is a must- read for any parent who hopes to arm their child with the tools to handle life’s daily struggles.”— Jack Canfield, coauthor of The Success Principles™ and coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series

After reading the following article, I was very encouraged to note the direct ties to the many themes that are emphasized in both the ChildLight Yoga program (and teacher training) and to yoga philosophy in general. In fact, our Yoga for Classrooms program includes every one of the nine tools mentioned here as individual visualizations and specific techniques we use with our students to help them gain self-esteem, mind-body awareness, self-trust, and the ability to self-help and problem-solve. The concepts of having gratitude, imagining a 'special friend', power of the breath and others are incredibly powerful in their ability to help transform thought patterns, reduce anxiety and ultimately, create joy. Take a read...

By: Charlotte Reznick PhD
(Reprinted from Edmonton's Child online)

As a parent, you may not realize that your child possesses many of the answers to life's challenges—right in her own imagination. Through learning and practicing visualization, kids can develop emotional self-care skills to help themselves with a variety of everyday, practical concerns. These imagination tools can help your child:

• Love, accept, and appreciate himself.

· Reduce pain and heal other physical ailments.

• Overcome fears, such as fear of the unknown, abandonment, doctors, disasters, and dying.

• Deal with bedtime issues such as insomnia and bedwetting.

• Cope with death, divorce, and other losses.

• Handle anger, hurt, and frustration.

• Achieve success at school and in sports.

• Live peacefully with siblings and parents.

Here are nine imagination tools you can teach a child to help her deal with stressful times and navigate the challenges of growing up.

TOOL #1: Use the Balloon Breath

With her hands around her navel, have her breathe slowly and deeply into her lower belly so it presses into her hands like an inflating balloon. The balloon breath has calming effects and facilitates a waking state of focused concentration and receptivity to positive suggestions. Kids can use it to calm down before musical performances, soothe anger or hurt feelings, or wind down at night, for example.

Tool # 2: Discover A Special Place

This is a safe, special place within your child’s inner world where he can relax, regroup, or take mini-vacations from the stresses of life. It's a place to pose endless questions about life issues, and create numerous positive, possible solutions. Your child might visit his special place to find courage before taking a difficult test at school, or to get away from a bully's harsh words.


This is an imaginary guide—a kind, loving, and protective creature—that helps children tap into their wisdom. It's often safer and easier for animal friends to offer solutions to problems in creative ways, than expecting logic and linear thinking to do the work. Your child's animal guide can help her fall asleep, or practice patience at school in long, boring classes, or be brave before a trip to the doctor.

Tool # 4: Conjure up a Personal Wizard

Wizards come into play when animal friends "just won't do." His Personal Wizard is a mentor and magical teacher in human form who brings a different level of wisdom: human but extraordinary. A wizard can give advice, conjure up special powers such as math answers, and even cure troubling feelings like jealousy, anger, and grief.

Tool # 5: Receive Gifts

Gifts from imaginary helpers can be thoughts, objects, or ideas that symbolically provide children with exactly what she needs in the moment to help her. Gifts can be obvious or require further explanation by the animal friend or wizard. Sometimes gifts are hidden and need to be unwrapped or dug up. When a child goes to her special place and asks a wizard or animal friend for a gift containing the solution to her problem, she often finds the answer.

Tool # 6: Check in with Heart and Belly

This tool is comparable to suggestions of "listen to your heart" and "pay attention to your gut feelings." Children are encouraged to take a few minutes to "check in" with their heart and their belly, and to notice what messages are there for them. The heart and belly often have two different, but equally important, messages to relate.

Tool # 7: Talking to Toes and Other Body Parts

The body is a repository for lots of hidden information. With this tool, children discover where and how they stash different feelings in their body. Kids then find they can have a dialogue between emotions and/or symptoms to find answers to their concerns. For example, your child might discover that his stomach knows exactly why it hurts every day 30 minutes before school starts—it doesn't want Mom to leave, and it's afraid she won't come back.

Tool # 8: UsE Colour for Healing
Color is especially helpful in healing pain. Feelings and symptoms often have different colors associated with them. They can be unique to each individual and change over time. You can teach children how to imagine a color, such as ice blue or deep forest green, cooling down his hot fever. When a child imagines color inside or surrounding her body, it can be a remarkable tool for transforming pain, shifting emotions, and accessing healing energy.


When words are insufficient, a loving touch from a parent can do wonders to restore calm and well-being. For example, you can help a child "pull the pain" out of his head by holding your hand about three inches from his forehead to give him a direction in which to send his pain—out and away.

You're now armed with nine simple, efficient, and totally free options to mix and match—depending on the situation and your child's favorite. When we teach our kids effective imagery techniques to solve their own problems, it can transform their world.

Charlotte Reznick is a child educational psychologist, an associate clinical professor of psychology at UCLA, and author of a new book, The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success (Perigee, 2009, $14.95).

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Baby Buddhas? Baby yoga explained.

Baby buddhas? Well, not exactly...But I still couldn't resist posting this adorable photo! ;)

Yoga for babies typically looks much less like a quiet meditation than it does a precious sight of interacting and bonding gestures, beneficial song and movement combos, and coos and smiles between baby and caregiver (yes, baby must bring an adult along to yoga class).

Our favorite yoga program for moms and babies (or dads, grandmas or other caregivers) is the Itsy Bitsy Yoga program created by Helen Garabedien. Below is the Baby Itsy Bitsy Yoga class description pulled right from her website:

Baby Itsy Bitsy Yoga classes contain dozens of unique yoga postures designed to support baby’s development. Each class is filled with calming, nurturing ways to enhance bonding and improve baby’s sleep.

During a Baby Itsy Bitsy Yoga class, babies enjoy yoga while on their backs, tummies, or held in loving arms. For parents, this class is a special opportunity to meet other moms, get support, and learn about baby's emerging personality. Most of the yoga we do in Itsy Bitsy Yoga is for baby, but you will also learn breathing and relaxation techniques as you practice a bit of yoga yourself. No yoga is experience required.

I can attest to the benefits of yoga for babies and their caregivers as I have been teaching Itsy Bitsy Yoga classes for several years.

About one half of the 1 hr. class is dedicated to sing-songy postures and simple, gentle movements, guided by parents. Helen Garabedien is a infant developmental movement educator and infant massage specialist, so it's no surprise that her trademarked song and movement combos are not only fun and easy to learn, but also extremely beneficial for baby. In fact, the tagline of the related book aptly titled, Itsy Bitsy Yoga, is "Poses to Help Your Baby Sleep Longer, Digest Better, and Grow Stronger."

Timely spaces between movements with baby are other important components of a typical Baby Itsy Bitsy Yoga class. These 'breaks' are primarily focused on community building and creating a nurturing and open space where moms (about 90% of the moms attending my classes are first-time moms) can share questions, concerns and stories about their journeys into motherhood and parenting. A typical first class introduction might involve sharing birth stories. Over the next several weeks, community building questions might be posed to start a discussion - questions like, "What do you do to take care of yourself", or "What is the best/worst parenting advice you've ever received?" These questions serve two purposes - 1) They support the moms in showing them that they are not alone in their experiences as new parents (what can often be a lonely place, especially if there is a lack of family support around), and 2) Create a sense of community in the group. In fact, many wonderful friendships and playdate schedules got their start at our Itsy Bitsy Yoga classes!

Yoga experience nor buddha babies are required (but they're awful cute, aren't they!?) to try out a Baby Yoga class. It's open to any parent or caregiver seeking a loving, bonding activity to do with her child. Best of all, you might just gain more sleep in the process!

ChildLight Yoga's Itsy Bitsy Yoga Class Schedule for Babies (NH Seacoast area)

Find a Baby Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor near you...

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Monday, September 7, 2009

ChildLight Yoga celebrates National Yoga Month with FREE kids/family yoga classes!

Join us in celebrating peaceful living AND National Yoga Month at the annual Peace Day Exeter event on Sunday, September 20th, 12 - 5pm at Swasey Park in Exeter, NH. ChildLight Yoga will have a booth with info about our fall classes, our signature Tees for infants, toddlers, big kids and adults, I Grow With Yoga CDs, and raffle giveaways. Come say 'hi!' to Heather Warr and Lisa Burk-McCoy, our amazing Exeter area instructors, then participate in one of the few mini family & kids yoga classes we'll be offering that day - Free!

The Peace Day Exeter festival will be held on Sunday, September 20, 2009 in the lovely downtown Swasey Parkway between the hours of Noon and 5 PM. Activities for the festival include workshops and games for children, music and poetry, guest speakers, panel discussions on peace and sustainability issues, and other exciting events at the Swasey Parkway gazebo and surrounding green.

Some of the participants and speakers to date include: Julia Simon-Mishel, the national Managing Director of the Student Peace Alliance; Kelly Moore with Music for Mankind; Eric Cohen with the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur and The Tents of Hope Project; Sarah Brown from The Green Alliance; Open Minds with Marilyn Kellogg; Andrea Renz with Exeter Area Interfaith CropWalk; Barbara Thorngren from Nashua Community Technical College; the Taoist Tai Chi Society; and music supplied by Tom Duffy and Chordwood; and other speakers and musical guests.

The festival is planned to coincide with the UN International Day of Peace. Teachers and students from around the Seacoast area are invited to stop by the Peace One Day Education Resource USA table at the festival to sample its educational materials. Peace One Day is a non-profit, nonpartisan, humanitarian organization founded by Jeremy Gilley - the man who spearheaded the establishment by the UN of its International Day of Peace. The POD Education Resource campaign is sponsored by Ben and Jerry's, with the goal of distributing its educational materials throughout the United States, having started this Spring in New England.

The Blue Moon Market and Cafe and The Divine Cafe will supply a wonderful array of food and drink. Phillips Exeter Academy students will work with children in supportive and educational roles. Films and meditative exercises for adults are also scheduled.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or folding chairs and enjoy the day's activities. Non-perishable food items will also be collected at the festival and donated to the Seacoast Family Food Pantry. The Cage at Phillips Exeter Academy of Exeter is the rain location for this event.

Our event sponsors include ESSO at Phillips Exeter Academy, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Exeter, Blue Moon Market - Exeter, Serendipity of Exeter, Seacoast Words of Peace - Stratham, Sperry Tents Seacoast - Portsmouth, and Exeter Jewelers. Any proceeds from the event will be donated to Peace One Day Education US.

For more information and directions, please visit our webpage: If you're interested in volunteering for Peace Day Exeter, please contact either Cindy Lategan ( or Bob Moore ( or at 603-642-4648).

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

How to Get Teens to do Yoga

I physically cringe when I think back to Jr. High and High School. Yes, it was fun and if you asked my classmates, they would probably say I was one of the 'popular kids' (whatever that means). But inside I really never felt like I truly fit in. I felt I was on the outside, different than everyone else in a way that I didn't understand. I desperately wanted to feel accepted. Everyone else seemed (and that's the key word, isn't it?) to be so together, have lots of friends, and be comfortable in their own skin. I worried a lot about getting good grades to be able to get into a good school later on - as good a one as my friends, as there was a lot of competition in that area. I felt is was important to have the right clothes and 'keep up with the joneses'. I felt I was misunderstood by my parents. And then there were the boy dramas...

If any of the above sounds familiar, it's probably because these are typical thoughts of the typical preteen and teen. And, I'm sure I'm not the only one who, as an adult yogi, has often thought back to those times and wondered how different things might have been had I been introduced to yoga THEN.

So many of us involved in teaching yoga to kids understand the importance of introducing yoga at a young age. Of any age however, I feel it's the preteen and teenage years that can benefit the most from learning yoga, mindfulness, pranayama and relaxation techniques. Our friends at KarmaSpot recently posted a nice list of the benefits of yoga for teens. Check it out.

If you've ever tried to set up a class for teens, you know that they can be tough to fill! Teens are super busy - and they don't want to be involved in anything that may be perceived as 'weird'. If you're going to attract teens to participate in a yoga program, it's important to make it both accessible and acceptable.

Here are some suggestions:

1) The class description should be inviting and utilize teen-friendly language. Unlike with younger kids classes, it's the teens that will most likely be making the decision about whether or not to participate, not the parents.

2) Be sure to mention benefits of teen yoga and their participation as it relates to THEM, the TEENS - not just yoga in general. Tying in what yoga might help them with in their chaotic life as a teen is the key. Mentioning some of the hundreds of athletes and celebrities doing yoga these days can also help gain buy-in from this age group. Everyone knows Madonna does yoga, but did you know the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Jennifer Anniston, Halle Berry, and even that hot guy, Peter Facinelli, of Twilight fame (thanks to for the great article and photo about Peter and his yoga practice!) does yoga daily?! That is super important news to a teen.

3) Use non-threatening images in your marketing materials and flyers. Showing an unattainable perfect body doing a difficult yoga position, ie, a Yoga Journal cover image, is not recommended! Instead, either use graphics or fun, friendly image of a real teen with a real body doing a simple position or maybe even just holding a yoga mat. HINT: A most wonderful place to find FREE IMAGES is

4) Consider holding separate classes for preteen and teen girls and guys. The distraction and anxiety caused by the presence of the opposite sex is removed and possible feeling of modesty or embarrassment becomes less of an issue. I find that in separate classes, preteens and teens of both sexes are better able to enjoy, and gain the most benefit from, their respective yoga class. If you have a female instructor for teen girls class and a male instructor for a teen guys class, all the better for this particular age group.

5) Talk to your local Jr. High or High School health or physical education teachers. They will most likely jump up and kiss you if you offer to you come in to introduce some yoga to their students. I recommend doing a series of classes, the first of which can focus on the myths of yoga to get that out of the way. You know, the ones about having to be a vegetarian, having to be able to put your foot behind your head, having to Ommmm for hours in a quiet room. It's amazing to me the perceptions that are still prevalent out there, especially with the teen set. Shed the myths, talk about what yoga is and isn't, and make the connection for the kids through analogies and personal stories of how yoga has made a difference in YOUR life. You'll be on your way to gaining their trust and buy-in to try it out for themselves.

Need some ideas?
ChildLight Yoga is offering Stress Less Yoga for Teen Girls this fall. Take a peek at the image and class description to get your creative juices flowing. If you live in or around Kittery, ME / Portsmouth, NH, we hope to see you there. Bring Peter Facinelli with you and your class is free! ;)

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Dell Ad uses Colors Song from Dance for the Sun CD by Kira Willey

A wonderful song from "Dance for the Sun", one of our favorite CDs of kids yoga songs, is featured in the new Dell ad! Congrats to Kira Willey!

The YogainMySchool Blog has done a great job highlighting this news and includes a link to the ad - check it out!

For this and other kids yoga songs and CD recommendations, see our blog post titled "Yoga Songs Make Kids Yoga Fun!"

Raising Maine | Managing the Gift of ADD and ADHD: ADD/ ADHD: Why All The Focus on Medication?

An interesting article in Raising Maine Magazine's Blog on the side of avoiding medication such as Ritalin, Adderal, etc. posted by Dr. Kevin Ross Emery is the author of "Managing The Gift: Alternative Approaches for Attention Deficit Disorder."
I can agree wholeheartedly that the natural approach take a lot of work and patience. We are in the midst of that path currently. Will be blogging about the journey in upcoming entries.

Raising Maine | Managing the Gift of ADD and ADHD: ADD/ ADHD: Why All The Focus on Medication?

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