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Teaching Your Kids Yoga Early: A Guest Post by Dana Vicktor

Dana Vicktor is the senior researcher and writer for duedatecalculator.org. Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in communications and sociology. Her current focus for the site involves ovulation pain and the menstruation cycle.

Teaching Your Kids Yoga Early

Yoga has many benefits for everyone. It can help to relieve stress, improve circulation, and tone muscles. It can promote greater heart health, improve digestion, and provide greater energy.

Yoga has many excellent benefits for children, as well. Yoga can help:

  • Promote balance and flexibility
  • Build confidence and self-esteem
  • Improve concentration
  • Promote calmness
  • Build strength

You don’t have to wait until your children are grown to start teaching them how to practice yoga. Here are a few tips for how to teach your kids yoga early:

Get Started Right Away
You can start teaching your kids about yoga from the moment they are born. “Mommy and Me” classes lead you through yoga exercises with your baby — though baby’s main role is to lie there and look cute. Later, toddler classes start showing your kids how to do modified versions of some of the moves with you.

By practicing yoga with your kids early, you help them to develop a love of the practice so that they can make it a part of their own routines later.

Start Small
You don’t have to introduce your kids to yoga by showing them how to do shoulder stands or other complicated moves. You can start with the basics: chanting and breathing.

When you are waiting at the doctor’s office, or you are driving in the car, or you are getting ready for your day in the morning, take advantage of that time to practice together. Get your children to mimic you, and talk to them about the benefits of these practices.

Keep It Age-Appropriate
Young children have short attention spans. Don’t try to fight that, but rather, work with it. Limit the time for each exercise to no more than a minute. Take frequent breaks during your yoga practice with your children so that they don’t become too bored or restless. Speed up the pace of the routine, as well.

The key is not to overwhelm kids or to push the limits of their patience. Yoga should be enjoyable, not feel like a chore.

Make It Fun
Yoga shouldn’t feel like exercise or something that kids are forced to do. It should be fun! Help make it fun for them by including silly songs, fun challenges, or even props. Use a silly voice when you call out the moves, invite their favorite doll to “practice” with you, or use fun names for some of the poses (some of them are already pretty funny…).

Do whatever you can to make yoga a fun practice for your children, and they will learn to love it and will be more likely to practice it for years to come.

Be a Role Model
Children learn best by watching you. Show them how fun and rewarding a yoga practice can be by enjoying your own practice in front of them. Don’t treat your practice like exercise or like a chore, or your children will learn to view it in the same way.

Make yoga  a regular part of your life so that you may show your children how regular practice can benefit them.

Teaching kids how to practice yoga will have a number of benefits for them, such as promoting their self-esteem and confidence while also improving their strength and flexibility. Teaching kids this wonderful practice early will make it more likely that they will continue to practice it later in life, when it will also help them to relieve stress and protect against disease.

Do you practice yoga with your children? How old were they when you started?

Hit by a Whirlwind

Last night, we had to dodge: balls, balloons, trains and tracks, horses, blocks, dolls, grapes, icing, biscuits, sippy cups, shoes, 15 or more little people, and as many big people, to get anywhere. Rahul was fixated on a little blond girl. He’s a flirt and charmer, but this time, it was to keep HER (not any of the other 15 kids who ransacked his playroom) from touching HIS tennis ball, HIS stuffed doll version of Iggle piggle, and HIS motorbike.
Leila found me whether I was in the kitchen, amidst the big people, or in the washroom.

But when the “Tangled,” cakes they requested, came out, things changed. Leila’s had a picture of Rapunzel on it; Rahul’s had Maximus the white horse, on it. L stood tall and blew out her two candles. Rahul blew his out at early, at “…dear Rahul, happy birthday..” They stuck their fingers into their respective cakes and…yummy!

They waited or should I say cried, all afternoon for their chocolate and cheese cakes. Leila sang “To you,” to me, many times. Rahul sang, “Happy Daisy Doo,” all day because Upsy Daisy Doo has a birthday too!

Once they got their cake, and the music was pumping, they were in their element. They danced to the Bollywood hits they love, the Zambian music D2 brought for us, and some reggae.

We all had a blast, if you can say that about a couple of 2 year olds birthday party.

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For his birthday, Rahul asked for a piano, Leila followed up by asking for a guitar. We were proud. Now we have a little electric organ in the living room. With a microphone. YES, A MICROPHONE. And did I mention that R and L both love to sing opera? And that we don’t know what the Chinese character for “volume” is. So yeah, we still have to FIND a mini guitar.

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All week I’d been brainstorming for a two year birthday post, and yet the 1st of November came and went. It’s in a bit of a list form, here goes: I thought to write about how Leila is a beautiful, sensitive, little girl. Extremely expressive. She imitates hip hop, Belly dance, Indian classical dance, and Chinese Opera like a pro.
When she saw a scrape on my knee the other day, her face showed immense concern, she turned both palms up questioningly and asked “…happened?”
She’s the “stuff police.” No one can touch, forget about borrow, her “papa’s shoes.” Today she chased him around announcing that the t-shirt he was wearing was Jalal’s. Maher and I had wondered which one of his brothers t-shirt it was. She knew!
She’s cheeky, and mischievous. She overheard that Rahul was looking for the baby elephant toy. She found it, took it, and ran. She’s fast.
And she’s fighting back now. She’s no longer the vulnerable poor little girl who gets bitten or hit from behind. She turns right around, snarls at her brother, either pulls his hair, or snatches her toy back.
She loves her new motorbike. It’s a shared toy that either she doesn’t let Rahul ride a whole lot, and/or Rahul is not terribly interested in, and he lets her have it most of the time. Either way, we know where her motorbike gene comes from.

Maher and I spend a lot of time teaching the children how to negotiate.

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Rahul is sweet, he gives kisses. He loves his ayi (nanny) to bits. Many days he doesn’t smile until he sees her.

He keeps his dads contact lens case in his palm day and night. It might be a way of keeping a piece of Maher with him.
He calls things “jolie.”
He has to have whatever L has. Yet, he can happily play on his own for extended periods of time.
He’s a word machine, and mostly what he says makes sense. He repeats anything, even Greek! He talks when he dreams: “Dog, one, two,” he said at 4am the other night.
The longer the word the better. His favorites are “disanaur”, “tephelone”, “capilo” (caterpillar), and “hecolopta” (helicopter).

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L and R are jealous of each other, and they compete for attention. But if anyone gives R something to eat, drink, or play with, he always asks for one for L. Leila does the same.
Often, Leila’s first question in the morning is, “Aya?”, (interpretation: where is Rahul?). Rahul’s first question is “Naina?” (interpretation: where is Leila?).

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They test our patience everyday. For every time we scream or want to scream at them, they do something that makes us want to hug and kiss them 10 times over.

So we do all: the screaming, the hugging, and the kissing.

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I wrote “Medium and Happy” (http://natashadevalia.com/2011/05/09/medium-is-just-fine/) 6 months ago. We’ve come a long way since the whirlwind hit, 2 years ago.

The Monkey Song

The Monkey Song from the Jungle Book is one of our favorites. The music is catchy, the dancing good fun, and the animation colourful.

R pretends to play the trumpet like the monkeys.

L watches intently, and loves the other two main songs as well, the Elephant march with Colonel Hathi, and “The Bare Necessities”, with Baloo the bear. Whenever Mowgli appears she calls him, “Leila.”

The first time I watched the Jungle Book, I was around 8 years old. It was in my aunt and uncle’s living room in Bombay. I had traveled on my own to spend a month with them. They often put the video on for me. I loved it. I didn’t see it again until a year ago.

Maher wonders if there was a subliminal relationship between his childhood infatuation with the big-eyed Indian girl at the end of movie, and him marrying me.

Through the monkey song, we discovered Louis Prima – a performer with a lot of character! If you have the chance, take a look at some of his other videos on YouTube.

Anyone know any stories about him?

Wormwood Scrubs Park

A bright London day at Wormwood Scrubs Park. Maher often runs there when he is in London. We went with a couple of my close girl friends and an uncle. The endless grassy space mesmerized me. The four of us ran around and spun circles. R learned how to roll in the grass. The colorful wild flowers were pretty. L was attracted to them. An unforgettable afternoon in June.

Boxes

Jiddo aka diddo and Teta, L and R’s paternal grandfather and grandmother took us shopping in Paris a couple of weeks ago.The children needed shoes. We returned to the hotel with sandals that looked nice and fit well. They came in cute little shoe boxes.

Maher’s friends offered L and R clothes that were elegantly wrapped and placed in boxes.

All these boxes made for interesting and versatile toys at 6 am the next day.

They were blocks.

They were drums.

They were stools.

They hid objects.

They then become shakers.

Bob Dylan in Shanghai

A couple of Fridays ago we flew to Shanghai, hung out in a hotel room for a few hours, then took the crowded peak-hour metro to the Shanghai Grand stage. Bob Dylan was performing. The crowds in the subway on a Friday evening could overwhelm anyone. I don’t know how L and R made it without a problem and even enjoyed it. Not only that R fell asleep in his carrier. L was exhausted but in typical L fashion she rebelled sleep. The bright lights, masses of people, and noise were her co-conspirators.

We filed into the stadium/theatre all very excited. It was our first concert together. We waited in our seats as the rest of the place slowly filled up. The people around us were easy-going and cool. They made space for us with our two babies, two baby carriers, one back pack and diaper bag. We got many understanding and encouraging smiles.

While we waited, I wondered whether our families worries about taking one-and-a-half year olds to a full-on concert would actually confirm and result in a quick return. Would the loud music harm their sensitive little ear drums? Would they be overwhelmed by the sheer massive experience of thousands of people in a large space? And what about weed? I had assured everyone that if there was any difficulty for the children we would simply return to the hotel. No big deal really.

I wanted to do this. Maher suggested we go to the concert, but only if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. I knew this was a big deal for him, so trouble or not we would try. Maher’s main music idol as a child and probably always has been Bob Dylan. He often sang BD songs with his high school band. He introduced me to some of the songs and music over the last few years. M and his brother who was also somewhere in the audience with his girlfriend and mum share their admiration for the artist. They were happy there “together”.  All in all it was a special moment for us.

When the music started, Leila was one of few people in the entire stadium of many thousands to bounce in her seat. She smiled, danced and clapped her hands. In typical China concert style, everyone sat put in their seats and bobbed their heads from time to time. Rahul slept through the first twenty minutes. The loud music couldn’t have been that bad after all. When he stirred I wondered if he would be shocked by the context. He looked out towards the stage and clapped his hands! We laughed. What joy. One clapping the other dancing.

Never mind that BD is 70, his style was different yet again, and his voice even more raspy, we were happy to be there. He was criticized for accepting to give a set list of songs that he would perfprm to the Chinese authorities. He was not to sing “Blowin’ in the wind” and a few other pieces.  Apparently he doesn’t do them in concert anymore anyway. He is still on his “never-ending tour”, and we caught him in Shanghai. For Maher being there was an hommage to the artist he adores.  We took L and R to their first concert. It was BD. Only while we were at the concert did I realise that Maher’s first concert was a BD one. It was in Paris. His father took him when he was ten.

A little after Rahul woke up, L started to cry from exhaustion. I carried her to the back where a few people were dancing. She fell asleep in my arms as we danced. Maher carried Rahul over to join us. They both seemed happy listening and moving to the music. A man asked if we always took “the kids” to concerts, and said he wished that his parents had. We didn’t stay till the end; missed “Like a rolling stone”, and his usual show ending song “Forever young”. But we had our moment and won’t forget it.