Perfectly Imperfect – A Yoga Series

Fall Yoga Series for Teens and Tweens

An introduction to yoga, mindfulness, and meditation for teens and tweens through an interwoven theme of being perfectly imperfect, ultimately finding acceptance of ourselves and others.

Do you have a teen and tween, or know someone who does, who is interested in yoga, but doesn’t know where to start?  Maybe you worry your child is striving too hard to be “perfect” in our increasingly imperfect world – or feels alone even amongst friends, misunderstood, unwanted, or “not good enough.”

Invite them to join us at Sacred Space Yoga Studio – Frisco, Texas as we dive into yoga and several styles of yoga over this six week series incorporating the theme of being “perfectly imperfect.”

Find out what yoga is exactly with regards to the mind and body, what it means to be perfectly imperfect, “beauty” from the inside, and how to manifest all of this into our everyday lives through yoga, mindfulness, and meditation.

Each class in this six week series will touch on a different style of yoga that complements our theme.

Classes will also include simple exercises to carry our theme and practice throughout the week outside of the studio. No previous yoga experience is necessary! Yoga is for every BODY. Modifications and props will be used and taught as well.

Six week series begins September 28th and goes through October 12th, with a mid-series break on October 19th, then continuing October 26th through November 9th. Classes will be from 5;00pm to 6:00pm at Sacred Space Yoga Studio – Frisco, Texas.  SIGN UP HERE.

 

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Megan Huff CCYT and RYT-200 Megan Huff, founder and instructor at breathe.flow.grow yoga and instructor at Sacred Space Frisco knows what it means to be a teen growing up in the North Dallas suburbs.  Still considering herself a teenager at heart sometimes, Megan has a heart for teens and tweens and wishes she had found yoga back then to help her manage life!

 

Kids Yoga Summer Camps

I am so excited to announce kids yoga summer camps for the summer of 2017!  These are two and two and a half hour (depending on age) camps that will be held over three days several times this summer in Plano, Texas!  Alternative Yoga Therapies has been wonderful enough in lending us the space to conduct these camps and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

Beat the Summer Heat

We will be working on learning yoga poses and breathing, doing fun yoga activities and games, a craft, all followed by guided relaxation and meditation.  Drop off the kids and get a few hours to yourself this summer!

You can sign up HERE but please don’t hesitate to ask questions!  Kids can come for one day, two days, or all three!  Registering more than one child?  Use the code “SIBLING” for a 10% discount!  I will be posting more about the camp themes as the time grows closer, but sign up now to save a spot for your kids!

Special Needs Yoga for Children

In December I had the up-most honor of meeting and training under Shawnee Thornton Hardy, creator of Asanas for Autism and Special Needs, here in Dallas, which is a blessing in and of itself.  I had read her book through my children’s yoga teacher training and was just enamored with both her passion and the scientific and behavioral basis in which she wrote it and created the C.A.L.M.M. curriculum for children with Autism and special needs.  I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to meeting authors and the like, so embarrassing to say, yes, but I was a bit star-struck the first day sitting next to her, talking, meditating, learning, and doing…

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The whole gang with me on the far left, Shawnee in the middle. It was a truly amazing opportunity to be able to train with these amazing women near my home!

Shawnee took the time to do something that many may have hinted at or thought, hmm, this could work, into a real-life, easily adaptable curriculum for parents, caretakers, and teachers of children with special needs.  Many of the challenges children with special needs face include anxiety (this is all children these days), difficulty expressing themselves or their emotions, limited body awareness and delayed motor skills, and difficulty with attention, to list a few.  Shawnee took this list of challenges and put it up against the benefits of yoga – improved motor skills, increased strength and flexibility, improved focus and attention – the list goes on (and anyone that has practiced yoga on any kind of regular schedule knows what I am speaking to).  It was an ah-ha moment and I love her because she took that leap of faith and went for it, creating a curriculum to address these challenges with the benefits of yoga and focused breathing.  Then, she took it a step further, writing a book on how-to and creating a toolkit that is easy to use (for any and all abilities) and follows her curriculum.  Oh, and then she travels around the country (and beyond now!) to teach and certify you on using her program – all while raising a family and keeping up her own private practice and yoga therapy business – AMAZING.

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C.A.L.M.M. toolkit created by Shawnee Thornton Hardy and available on her website.

Taking her training not only provided me with invaluable tools and information, but also made me take a step back and watch my own children’s behavior.  Shawnee truly believes that there are no bad children, and I think she is on to something…

My stepson, who does pretty well in school was bombing math, which happens to be his favorite subject.  He is ADHD and dyslexic and as such, per his accommodations, he goes to tutoring in the mornings twice a week to make sure he is up to date on his assignments and sits in the front row of class.  After having what one might call, a come to Jesus with him, me, my husband, and his mother on the phone, we FINALLY peeled back all the layers and excuses to find that he is basically shutting down in class because the teacher blocks the board when he writes or stands right in front of him such that he is so overwhelmed he, as you can guess, shuts down.  It had nothing to do with the fact that he didn’t want to do his work or was being defiant, he literally was shutting down because he was so overwhelmed, then frustrated, and, at 12-years old and the throws of middle school, didn’t know how to express this to his teacher, or us, initially.  I had my husband, or I threatened to go myself, go with him to tutoring to talk to the teacher and observe first hand what was going on.  Then, when my husband spoke with the teacher nothing would get lost in translation over email and phone calls.  And then the other layers came off… a VERY busy teacher, only about 10 to 15 minutes to review, papers and kids everywhere, not a moment for individual instruction…

We don’t blame the teacher, its just the situation, and going to public school you can be a bit of a slave to the system.  But that amount of insight was all we needed to confirm what he had told us and take a WHOLE NEW perspective as to what the heck was going on and how we can now help him, in this situation, adapt and thrive – moving him back one row, changing sides of the room, to name a few quick fixes.  Would we have come to that conclusion without me going to training? Maybe, maybe not.  But I would like to think that I, after training with Shawnee, was more in tune with the why and not the “bad” behavior itself.  I took a moment and stepped back – why is he acting like this, what is he trying to ask for?  And suddenly the “bad” behavior became a need that was not being met.  It’s amazing and somewhat liberating.  Try it!

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My little “flying buddy” – during training we practiced belly breathing with our animal friends and their magic carpets, taking them on a magic carpet ride!

As I continue my training and mentorship with Shawnee working here locally with several children, I can’t wait to learn and explore more and see where it is I can plug myself in.  If you are interested in Shawnee’s program, you can visit her website here or please feel free to contact me for support, questions, tools, or conversation!  I am always happy to share!

Vision Boarding for 2017

So by now you may have heard how important it is to visualize your goals.. it provides a visual focus for your brain, something for you to concentrate on and put your mind’s energy to work on.  I have several friends that do it.. have read countless stories about it.. always thought about doing it… but alas, never make the time to sit down and actually do it.  So when my friends at Purple Lotus and Alternative Yoga Therapies in Plano held a New Year’s Day restorative yoga and planning and vision boarding workshop on New Year’s Day.. I was in like Flynn.. this is my opportunity to finally sit down, uninteruppted, armed with a stack of magazines, a glue stick, and scissors, to get this done!  I didn’t finish at the workshop, what can I say, I like to talk, but I took it home and spread out all over my dining room table and didn’t stop until I was done – which is an accomplishment in and of itself!

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All spread out on the table, side one.. Work, Spiritual, Financial, and Creative sections of my “vision board.”

Shannon with Purple Lotus provided us with a planning work sheets as well for the left sides of our brains, so from that, I created sections of my board:  Things I Love, Relationship/Marriage, Family/Home, Personal/Self, Work, Spiritual, Financial, and Creative.  The vision board method I used was this one from the Artful Parent.  I loved the idea of being able to fold up my vision board and take with, or make it a little bit more manageable than a poster board.  Plus, it just looks cool and I could use each “page” of the folder as a section (right brain, meet left!).

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Fold-able and portable example provided by The Artful Parent.

Instead of folding the tabs like they did on The Artful Parent, I just taped folder sides to each other.  Its not as beautiful as the example, but alot easier for me to manage.  I wrote the name of the section on the top of each “page” and started with large images that made me happy for backgrounds or something I felt fit the theme of the section.  I used not only yoga magazines, but catalogs, fashion magazines, you name it!  From there it was lots of words.. some that fit my feeling for that page and others that were very specific.  Don’t forget the money (you have to pay for some of these dreams somehow).  I found some stickers and washi tape from my endless supply of crafting stuff and TA-DA!  I wrote in a few things that I couldn’t find in the magazines with paint markers..  which reminds me, I forgot to add a quote from a yoga class I just took, I love it, “Just because you are getting uncomfortable in a pose (or life) doesn’t mean its time to wiggle and squirm and try to get out of it (GUILTY). Instead, turn inside, turn to your breath.”  Now I just don’t know where I am going to put it… Self or Spirituality?  I am digressing… ok, back to this vision board thing!

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So my fold-able vision board, I also found some articles and words of wisdom and reminders that I added in.  One was a quote about breathing, another was an interview of Hilaria Baldwin and how she reminds students to be mindful of how they feel while they practice.  Another, a quick column on how to start your day the Ayurveda way and no lie, a website to a flow to “Rock your Chakras!”  Perfect for Spirituality!  Here is the finished, ok almost finished, I need to add the quote, product…  but I guess that is the glory of this experiment, you can keep adding!

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I am not going to lie, I was really hesitant that I was going to get this done with my 4-year old daughter lurking, but I gave her some child safe scissors and she started one of her own.. (she used the pages of Wine Spectator magazine)!  I was really tickled how she used some of the words and was drawing and writing on it just like me!  *They are always watching and observing!*

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I also started thinking that I should plan a date to revisit my board and evaluate where I am – and also finish filing out the planning worksheets, get the left brain cranking!   I will let you all know how it goes!  Now where to put this baby… Somewhere I will see it EVERY DAY!

So I am interested, anyone else done a vision board?  Have they worked for you?  What are elements that you like to add?

Here’s to 2017!!!!

Holiday Yoga Camp!

If you are local to north Texas, I am so happy to announce I will be conducting a holiday yoga camp the first two days of Christmas break, December 19th and December 20th, 1pm to 3pm, both days! The camp will be geared towards children ages 5 to 11 and located at The Den – Sports Perfromance and Fitness center in Allen, Texas. They have an amazing indoor field for yoga and games, and a rec room for crafts and mindfulness activities!

Find a little zen for you and the kids before the real holiday madness begins! You can sign up online here! Can’t wait to see you!

Intro Family and Kids Flow

My gosh… how the holidays have totally gotten away with me!  I intended to post this SEVERAL WEEKS ago after I taught it at a local elementary school for “Family Health Night.”  I had such a good response to it and its a great intro for anyone looking to add yoga into the family routine or classroom and it just takes a few minutes!  You can do the entire flow or break it up into small activities.  Included with each are links to my resources that I used.

Warm Up and Breathing

I love, love, love demonstrating breathing for kids with a Hoberman Sphere!  You have probably seen one of these before and thought, hey, that’s a cool toy!  Cool toy indeed!  It perfectly demonstrates what happens to our lungs/chest when we take a deep breath in and out!  Kids absolutely love opening and closing it themselves and I love to let them pass it around and let them do it with their breath!

This is also an AMAZING calm down activity when your toddler or preschooler is having an epic meltdown – perfect distraction.  Talk to your kids about what happens as you breathe in and out, talk about where the air goes into your chest and tummy – (ask where this is) your lungs.”When you breathe in – your chest and then your tummy rises up and fills up like a balloon.  When you breathe out your chest and tummy goes back down.  Sit for a few breaths feeling your chest then tummies fill up with air and then slowly letting the air out.  If you want you can put your hands on your chest and tummy and feel them move up and down.”

Explain to them that this toy (a Hoberman sphere) shows what you are talking about.  “When we breathe in, our chest and tummy get bigger.  When we breathe out, they get smaller.  If you would like you can continue breathing at your own pace or you can breathe in as I make the ball bigger and then breathe out as I make the ball smaller.  We will repeat this a few times.”  Pass it around and let them try for themselves!  As I was saying, meltdown in progress?  Have them sit and take deep breaths with the sphere – gives them a new focus and breathing does wonders for calming big and little kids alike!

Fun and Easy Sun Salutation

I wish I could take credit for this family/kid friendly sun salutation, but I can’t!  I found this in an amazing book called “Yoga Games for Children!”

I seriously can’t speak highly enough of this book!  It breaks everything down for you. And I love this graphic of the sun salutation – short and simple and you can make copies and let the kids color it when they are done!  I will post an image later that you can print – just have to get a clean copy scanned in!  So here is how I teach this flow to kids and parents (check out the book for more tips too!)…

A sun salutation would be a way to greet the sun.  Or I like to think of it as a way to thank the sun for everything it provides – to take in its energy and move around.

Here is where we are going to start – our STARTING POSITION.  This is MOUNTAIN POSE. Both feet firmly planted on the ground.  Arms can be at your side or they can be palms together at your chest.

I MAKE A CIRCLE NICE AND ROUND.  Move your arms up as you take a deep breath in and then slowly lower them back down as you breathe out.  Lets do that again. Big and round, just like the sun!

NOW WE STOMP HARD ON THE GROUND. Feel how strong the earth is beneath us. Stomp, stomp, stomp. Can we stomp to the back of our mats?

I BEND AND WALK ON MY HANDS THEN STOP. Bend over and reach towards your toes then put your hands on the ground and walk them out in front of you until you make a triangle with your back and legs.

NOW I AM A TRIANGLE WITH MY BOTTOM ON TOP. Keep your legs straight and back straight.  Stretch in our DOWNWARD DOG.

From here we slowly go to our hands and knees, I’M A LION BIG AND STRONG.  Let’s hear everyone’s lion’s roar!

NOW I’M STRETCHING LEAN AND LONG. Can you balance and bring one arm out in front like you are pointing at something, looking straight ahead? Stretch through your fingers! For extra challenge try to lift your opposite leg up too!

OTHER SIDE!

NOW I HIDE! Slowly we come down to CHILD’S POSE. Take a breath here and relax.

And then, just like peek-a-boo, HERE I AM!  Use your arms to push you up and back into a squat. Just like a FROG!

NOW I STAND.  Slowly rise up to your big, tall mountain pose – deep breathe in as you rise.

I SPIN WILLY-NILLY.  Put your arms out wide and swing them side to side, or, if you can stay on your mat, you can turn all the way around.

Now STOP! AND TRY TO LOOK SILLY! Pick your own silly pose and hold it!

I repeated this several times such that everyone got a hang of it and could move through them all.  Remember not all kids (and grown ups) will get all poses, and that’s OK!  Same with parents too!  Just as long as they are doing it to the best of their ability!

Closing/Savasana

Since we worked on focusing on our breathing at the beginning, I like to come back around to reinforce and practice further.  This is often called “Zen Meditation,” but the primary focus is your breath.

Have your kids lay somewhere comfortable, dim the lights, and let them get settled.  Have them place their hands on their chest or tummy, or one on the chest and one on the tummy.  Guide them through the first few breaths, counting the breath will sometimes help in this situation to slow both yourself and them down. “Breathe in, one, two, three..” “Breathe out, one, two, three..” repeat as necessary, asking kids to feel their hands moving up and down with their chest and tummy as they breathe in and out.  Then have them focus on their own.  Remind them (and again, yourself) that as they lay there, just listen to their breath, concentrating on their hand up and down with their breath.  If they start to think of something else, go back to their breath and their hands.  Let everyone (and yourself) relax and breathe for a few minutes.  Then slowly wake and come to your closing.

Namaste.

I would love to know y’alls thoughts and resources that you use!  I am going to be adding a resource tab soon!  Plus its always good to know what works and doesn’t work!

 

Setting my intention.

I have been thinking about how I should start all of this and then, as if it was being beat into my head (and sometimes it takes that), I was like oh, just like I do in my practice and try to do everyday.. I should set an intention for this blog, this website, this business.  DUH.

I tell mommies and little ones, including my own, all the time to set an intention for the day.  How are you going to feel?  What are you going to accomplish?  How can I be more connected to my family/children/spouse/friends?  Just about every yoga class I take, the instructor at some point always asks us to set an intention.  Is it balance? Strength?  Taking a moment for yourself? Focusing on your breath?

Some might say, well isn’t that the same as just setting a goal?  Well, yes, and no.  One should always set goals.  I think one of my favorite quotes is “shoot for the moon, even if you fall short, you will land among the stars.”  A goal is something that you striving for or trying to achieve.  An intention is something you plan to do or achieve, an aim or a purpose.  A purpose.  Being intentional is being purposeful, setting an intention is setting a purpose for yourself for that moment/hour/day/week/month/year or in this case, for your business and website.  While I am still searching out a purpose or dharma for myself, I can certainly set ones for breathe.flow.grow yoga and kids yoga!

First, authenticity.  To always be real or genuine with my clients, customers, friends, family, people taking their time to read this. I hope to never paint this ideal picture where my kids and I are perfect yogis, I can always land the perfect handstand (hardly), and I am never late to anything (insert hysterical laughter here).  I am just like everyone else.  I am trying to squeeze everything into my day with little to no success.  I am writing this at my daughters gymnastics practice!  When I suggest something to try, trust me I know, it may be smashed in between commercial breaks or while your kids are zoned out to Disney and you get 20 minutes of peace (why can’t those shows be a full 30 minutes?!), or if/when you actually get to go to the bathroom by yourself.  I totally get it.  Most times I like to smash everything together to mommy and me because sometimes mommy (or daddy) needs it just as much, if not more, than the kids.  So don’t worry, its progress, not perfection around here!  But I intend to be authentic in everything I say or do or ask.

Second, community.  I love giving and sharing and want to create a community where everyone feels comfortable to share as well.  I want to create a community of authenticity, sharing, and doing.  Breathe.flow.grow is not just me commanding to the masses, its all of us learning together, talking together, and sharing together!  I never want one person or child to feel isolated or like they have to be like the next person.  Individuality is what makes the world so amazing!  So lets embrace it and learn from each other here!  I intend to always ask for participation, comments, or suggestions.  I love hearing about how everyone is applying things to their everyday, what it means for them in their life, or maybe how its not working.  I want to know that too!  I intend to put events together for us all to meet up face to face.  Lots of videos to share… it doesn’t have to stop with this webpage!

So here goes nothing!

I want to end each post with a pose and thought/action to go with the theme of the post.  In this case, its setting an intention.  To help set your intention, you will want to get settled in Sukhasana (easy sitting pose).  This can be cross legged (crisscross applesauce) or lotus, with your legs stacked over each other while crossed.  If I am going to be sitting for more than a hot minute, then I like to fold up a blanket or put a small pillow under my rear, elevating my rear a little above my legs, seems to make it easier on the bones!  Or just sit on a chair. That works too!  Take a deep breath in, feeling and listening to your breath, then a long exhale doing the same.  If you need to concentrate on something other than your breath, count on your inhale (how many seconds it takes) and then again on the exhale (how many seconds it takes).  They should be even, or, if you want more relaxation, extend the exhale longer than the inhale.  So lets say, four seconds on the inhale, and six seconds on the exhale, or four and four!  Its your practice!

After a few rounds of breathing.  Think about your intention, what you want to set for the day or week. Then I like to say it to myself on the inhale, confirming it on the exhale.  One of my favorites… on the inhale, “I am a good mother,” and on the exhale, “I will be more patient.”  So I like to instill some confidence on my inhale, and then set my intention on the exhale.  Its a two for one!  But if you just want to set your intention, then say it on the inhale and confirm it on the exhale, or just say it on the inhale or exhale.  Whatever feels good to you!

I would love to hear from you and your intentions.  Did it help you during the day?  Would you make this part of your daily routine?

Namaste.