Our friends at Electroyoga are hosting an exclusive evening of their fusion of dance, yoga and fun, followed by a hefty dose of retail therapy from some of the newest and most stylish yoga apparel and accessory companies there are. A portion of all their proceeds will be donated to Yoga Foster, and you can be sure we’ll be getting our groove on then, too! Learn more on their website.

MARCH 30, 2014

7 - 10PM

59 FRANKLIN ST

SUITE THREEOHSIX

Thank you, Yogi Teas!

The weather in the city has been nothing but brutal, but last month’s Fosterbox to our volunteers hoped to bring it some warmth. We couldn’t have done that without Yogi Teas, who donated cases of tea for each of our students to find balance and energy despite the unreliable transportation, trudges through the slush, and seemingly endless amounts of snow we’ve faced in NYC. Thank you so much for making the season just a bit sweeter!

Learn more about Yogi Teas

Breathe, Think Do with Sesame Street

There aren’t many accessible, friendly apps out there that help kids practice mindfulness in everyday life, and I love how Sesame Street has created an easy way to introduce kids to breathing and reflection before action. Breathe, Think Do with Sesame Street is incredibly simple, and relies mainly on video to showcase scenarios that can be improved with taking a couple of deep breaths. I do wish the app was a bit broader in scope, for I feel it could get old quickly, but it does have relevant scenarios for everyday life and available in English and Spanish.

Winter Olympics Fun!

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Another way to celebrate the three-week event is to emulate the mascots for each! These are fun animal poses, many of which the kids might have already learned, but can be adapted to suit each character, and can also talk about positive traits each have, or strengths that might help them do well in the different competitions you discussed last week. It can also be a great platform to talk about how they complement each other as friends.
Below are explanations of the characters, along with their stories from the Winter Olympics website for more context for you as the teacher to share. I also added the two Paralympic characters because they have great stories, and their contrast can also provide a talking point that can resonate with kids of all ages.

POLAR BEAR

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Two ways! To walk on all fours like a big lumbering bear, adapt a downward dog-style pose and walk on all fours, being careful not to bend the knees to have a strong, weighty lumber. But since he’s standing up, adopting a crouched down, two-legged walk with teeth bared and a big ROARRRR can work too! Bonus points for having kids put on a scarf before being him.

"Beyond the Arctic Circle on a shelf of ice there lives a polar bear. In his home, everything is made out of ice and snow: his snow shower, his bed, his computer and even his weight-lifting equipment.

The polar bear was brought up by Arctic explorers from a very early age. It was they who taught him skiing, speed-skating and curling. But above all the polar bear enjoyed riding sports sleighs. He became a real bobsleigh pro, while his fellow bears, along with the seals and fur seals, love watching his sporting achievements. These days they often set up bobsleigh competitions together and during the long Arctic nights, there’s never a dull moment!”

HARE
Stand on knees and bring hands to either side of the head to create ears. Do some bunny breaths and wiggle/wrinkle nose, perhaps eat a couple of carrots to fuel up! Transition to a squatted position to do some bunny hops. Bonus points for tying a bow - you can even talk over how to tie one, or make a bow with your legs cross-legged.
"The Hare is the busiest creature in the winter forest. Her friends are always amazed: just how does she find the time to do so much! For the little doe hare not only studies at the Forest Academy (where she gets excellent grades) and helps her Mum in the family restaurant, “The Forest Dam”, but also takes part in all manner of sporting events. The little doe hare trusts her friends so much that she doesn’t have any secrets. She simply loves sport with all her heart. And she also loves to sing and dance."
 
Snow Leopard
Another pose traditionally made with four legs, you can create a snow leopard by being on hands and knees, and raising up one leg behind you, bent at the knee, to create a larger snow leopard body and a big tail. Trying using different legs to make that tail, even alternating arms and reaching one big paw up at a time to wave. Bonus points for putting a belt on first! 

"The Leopard is a rescuer and mountain-climber who lives in the uppermost branches of a huge tree, on the highest peak of the snowy mountains in the Caucasus. He is always prepared to help those in need, and on a number of occasions has rescued nearby villages from mighty avalanches.

The Leopard is an experienced snowboarder and has taught all his friends and neighbors to snowboard too. He is a cheerful character who enjoys the company of others and loves to go dancing.”

RAY OF LIGHT
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Ray of Light has a hot breath, so practice breathing in through the nose into the belly to stoke the fire, then exhaling from the back of the mouth, tongue out, to blow hot air. It is also very close to the sun, so practice reaching up very tall and reaching for the sun! 
SNOWFLAKE
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Snowflake has a cold breath, so practice breathing in through clenched teeth, and blowing out from the mouth making cold breath. Snowflakes fall from the sky, so begin standing tall, arms and legs stretched outwards, then slowly falling forward.
Through these poses and the below story, it might be fun to pair up one student as a Ray of Light, the other as a Snowflake, and have them find situations where they complement each other.

"Ray Of Light flew down to Earth from a planet where it was always hot. His journey was full of challenges. After he landed he faced a new and unknown planet where everything was different compared to his home. Everything on the Earth was new to him: cold winters, snow and winds, and of course unknown people around him. Ray Of Light looked very different from the people on Earth as well. He had amber skin, sparks in his wide eyes and hair that looked like flames.But these differences were only external. Ray Of Light was so nice and kind to everyone, and he was always ready to help and support the people around him. Very soon, people understood that the difference between Ray Of Light and the people on the Earth was based purely on appearances and that it was just people’s initial perceptions that had led them to believe that there were great differences. The more they interacted, the more they discovered that they were much more similar then they had thought at the beginning.

People taught him alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and biathlon. And then everybody understood that Ray of Light had unique abilities. So soon Ray Of Light became a true favorite all over the place.

Although he had good friends around him he still felt a bit lonely. There was no other Starperson like him among the people. That is why he stared up into the sky so often and sighed…

One day he saw a falling star leaving a beautiful trace across the night sky. It was another space stranger Snowflake. She flew down to Earth from an icy planet. She had snow-white skin like first snow, and looked like a snow crystal. In some ways they seemed very  different but in others, Snowflake and Ray Of Light had a lot in common. 
Ray of Light introduced her to his earth friends and told her about sports. Snowflake also started to practice alpine skiing. Together they invented new kinds of sports – wheelchair curling and ice sledge hockey. People admired their incredible achievements and loved these kinds of sports. They enjoyed imitating the technique of Ray of Light and Snowflake and everybody wanted to be like this star pair.

Ray of Light and Snowflake decided to stay on Earth and use their fantastic abilities in other areas beside sport to teach their friends and all people how to discover their own wonderful skills.

Ray of Light and Snowflake overcame many difficulties on their way to Earth through cosmic space. It was not easy for them to adapt to an unknown  planet.  But their participation in sports helped them to understand that, in the end, they are not different, they are united through their great sporting abilities and are good and faithful friends.

Ray of Light and Snowflake became the true personification of harmony within contrast. Together they demonstrate that anything is possible.”

El ABC de los Animales Australianos

We’re really loving this trip to the down under in the midst of all the NYC snow. Plus, it’s refreshing to find a yoga book for kids that’s delightful and simple, and all the more rare to find them in Spanish! El ABC de los Animales Australianos by our friend Giselle Shardlow at Kids Yoga Stories. This simple yet comprehensive ABCs book helps guide children through a tour around Australia and meet all the animals down under, with poses to match.

It’s just as good of a resource for teachers looking for extra inspiration for their lesson plans, as it is for parents interested in introducing yoga to their kids. Who knew there was so many animals from Australia to explore!
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Thank you, Barefoot Yoga!

For our December Fosterbox, we were happy to receive a wonderful gift from our friends at Barefoot Yoga. They sent Rudraksha Mala beads for each of our current teachers. These necklaces can improve concentration, focus and mental stamina, and help boost many spiritual practices, providing strength for a new year. We hope our teachers enjoy, and can’t thank Barefoot Yoga enough for supporting Yoga Foster!

Barefoot Yoga Co. was born out of sincere admiration of yoga and the desire to inspire its practice. The original yoga mat bag was designed in 1996 by the founder of the company, while traveling in India. Barefoot Yoga now provides numerous signature products, as well as other props, clothing, jewelry, and media. The signature products include Yoga Mat Bags, Mysore Practice Rugs, Silk Eye Pillows, Original Eco Yoga Mats, Barefoot Hybrid Eco Mats, Sari Zafu Meditation Cushions, Bamboo Blocks, and Rosewood Blocks. Items are available online at www.barefootyoga.com and in studios around the world.

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Welcome to 2014! The ball has dropped, the celebrations have ceased, and now it’s time to kick those New Year’s Resolutions into full gear. While some may vow to lose weight, quit smoking, or get organized, we, at Yoga Foster, believe in the gift of giving and growing. 

Driven by the efforts to help grow the confidence, creativity, and clarity of our youth, our volunteer teachers have also found giving back to be an awesome way to grow themselves! We believe in mutually beneficial relationships that help each person grow. We’re a team just as invested in working with passionate teachers who love to give back as we are with amazing kids who are open to growing!  

It’s 2014. Are you ready to Give and Grow with us? http://yogafoster.org   

Winter Sports

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The winter weather is here so it’s time to hit the slopes - figuratively, of course! Plan an active, fun class of movement and activity through these winter sports yoga poses.

Riding the Ski Lift

Balance on your tush, legs up, leaning back. For a more collaborative experience, put kids sitting in pairs in front of each other, and have them rest their backs against the feet of the people behind them. See how long it’ll take to get to the top of the mountain!

Skiing

Stand big and tall, arms down by sides, fists clenched as if holding ski poles. Take a big breath into the chest before lowering down, bent at the kids, feet flat and together facing forward, and arms bent at the elbows by the side. Pull elbows forward and back, bounce slightly, and lean from side to side to emulate skiing. All these little actions in the arm and side also distract and lessen the severity of the squat.

Snowboarding 
Take a warrior one stance to signal that you’re ready, big breath in, then exhale into warrior 2 to start snowboarding. Alternate legs by jumping and switching, and do tricks by “holding the board” or, staying in the same lunge, reaching to either side and touching one hand to the mat.
Ice Skating 
Begin standing tall, like in mountain pose. Bring arms out to other side and practice standing on one foot, stretching the other outwards to the side, leg straight. Then, see if they can take a larger skating pose by extending the leg out behind them, arms out to either side. Can they push up into a tiptoe (or the top of their ice skate?)
Bobsled
Have bobsled teams with kids sitting behind each other, all on one (or two mats). Have each hold on to each other’s arms and lean side to side to make the tough turns!
Ski jumps 
Have kids lie on their backs, hovering their legs off the ground while they approach the big jump. When they get there, challenge them to lift their legs and make a wacky pose in the air, then hover again to land.
Competition time!
Set up stations for each kid to visit and perform one of the stunts they just learned, or play a variation of yogi says as if you’re the announcer calling the next event.

Hot Chocolate

I like having a way for the class to always come back to their breath, and Hot Chocolate Breath is great for that. It not only a way to encourage consuming treats in moderation, and as a reward, but it’s a nice way to bring the class back to focus and calm down. Sit cross-legged (so we don’t spill) and bring hands together into a circle (nice for fine-motor skills) as if cupping hot cocoa. Breathe in, then breathe out slowly to cool down the hot cocoa. After a few of those, you can take a sip, set down, and start the next activity!

Yoga In Bed!

The morning are finally cold. They’re so cold, that the most difficult time of some of our days may be pulling ourselves out from underneath the covers. If you have little ones, you many know this struggle all too well. These simple yoga poses may be the perfect way to get those big and small bodies moving in the morning. And the best part? They’re done in bed! 

Still Sleeping: Lie with the soles of your feet touching (Bunch the covers on either side of your knees to prevent over-stretching) You can keep your arms by your side or stretch your hands above your head — whatever feels best! 
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…After stretching the legs, it’s time to move to our backs!
Back Wake Up: While on your back, hug your knees to your chest. Hold your legs behind the knees with your right forearm and bring your knees to the bed on your right side. Now, gently look left. Repeat on your other side.
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…Now, unfortunately, it’s time to pull the covers aside, but not to worry, you’re still laying down.
Sitting on the WallTurn your hips toward the wall and kick your legs up and lean rest them vertically against it. That’s it!
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…And now, it’s the final move before starting your day stretched, energized, and ready to go.
pLaying Around: You’re already on your back, so grip the outside of your feet with your hands. Open your knees a little wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your torso. Gently rock in a way that feels comfortable, while pushing your feet into your hands as you pull your hands down to create a resistance.
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Have you had a change to meet Emily yet?

Another one of our fabulous volunteer instructors, Emily, is a 200-hour certified vinyasa yoga instructor. Having trained at Yoga to the People, Thai Yoga bodywork and AcroYoga, she continues to become stronger, healthier, and happier in her practice everyday. Emily has worked with kids for a number of years and is a dedicated yogi. It was an obvious choice for her to combine the two as a volunteer kids yoga teacher! While Yoga Foster is a great program that emphasis creativity, Emily is always looking for ways to keep her own creativity on point. By singing, writing, crafting, and teaching yoga she’s able to grow as a person and share her passions with others!
 
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Read more about what volunteering as a kids yoga teacher means to Emily here: http://yogafoster.org/team_emily/    

The Mitten Yoga Class: Season of Giving

The Mitten by Jan Brett is probably one of my favorite holiday stories, and brings that warm fuzzy feeling all season long. We wrote a quick lesson plan with poses and breathing inspired by the story, that can be taught with or without the book on hand!

Begin class with all the mats in a circle, with a couple extra making a square like shape in the middle. This will be our mitten where we all snuggle up together. Begin with talking about gifts. What gifts have students received that they have loved the most? What gifts have they given that they love the most? Emphasize the idea of sharing something good that you have received, whether it’s a new toy, good book, hugs, or yummy food.

Then tell the story of the mittens. They were a gift to a boy named Nicki from his grandmother, and he loses them in the snow, even after her warnings! Oh no! But perhaps that mitten can give something to someone else.

Then, tell the story that different animals get to share the mitten. Have a few students bring thier mats into the center, then teach the first animal pose. Have everyone learn the pose, but some people in the mitten, and the rest outside of it. Leaving those students, introduce a couple more into the center as the next animal, then continue. By the time the last animal, the bear, enters the mitten, everyone should be in it! Review the poses while everyone is inside before blowing out, using your breath.

POSES:

Mole: Begin in Child’s Pose (hips on heels, forehead on mat). Bring arms extended above the head and keep the eyes closed. Burrow back and forth by moving the arms in an arch away from the center, and back to the sides repeatedly.

Rabbit: Begin seated upright on knees and heels, bending the arms and bringing the elbows into the sides. Practice bunny breath, first by twitching the nose, then taking a few short inhales into the nose, and exhaling “haaa” softly.

Hedgehog: Begin in child’s pose (hips on heels, forehead on mat). Bring arms upwards behind the back, fingers extended long to make spikes.

Owl: Begin seated upright on knees and heels, arms extended by side like wings. Keeping eyes open wide, twist head from side to side. Take a deep breath in and exhale with a long and low “WHOOOOO”

Badger: Sit upright on knees and heels. Teach kids the Gyan Mudra, which is first finger and thumb touching, other fingers extended, then bring over the eyes to look like a badger.

Fox: Bring yourself to hands and knees, back straight. Rotate hips left and right to swish your fox tail, and alternate raising one arm at a time.

Mouse Pose: Child’s pose (hips on heels, forehead on mat, arms resting by sides OR hands around ears, curled into mouse ears)

Bear: Similar to downward dog, but with a flatter back. Alternate picking up one limb at a time without bending elbows/knees, take deep breaths in and exhale with a growl.

Thank you, Fruit Bliss!

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With the launch of our first Fosterbox, a free monthly delivery of healthy wellness perks for our core volunteers, we were lucky to be able to include donations from Fruit BlissFruit Bliss offers a selection of all-natural, un-sulfured fruits made using high-quality, sun-sweetened whole apricots, plums, dates and figs sourced from Turkey, France and Tunisia. Incredibly juicy and sweet without artificial sweeteners or added sugars, and Non-GMO Project Verified, Vegan and OU Kosher certified, Fruit Bliss is such a healthy, all-natural snack for on-the-go, especially for ours busy busy teachers that are always running from our schools to other studios.

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We can’t thank Fruit Bliss enough for their support, and hope to get their healthy snacks into our schools as well! For more information visit their website, and be sure to read their journey to creating such a wholesome company.

Introducing Fosterbox

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We just launched a monthly delivery service for our volunteers called Fosterbox that we use as our way to say thanks. Each month, we’ll send each of our active weekly teachers a box filled with goodies for both their class and themselves. Items can range from healthy snacks and treats, teas and natural wellness products, kids yoga lesson plans and props, and discounts to yoga studios, teacher trainings and more. 

This month’s featured sponsor is Fruit Bliss. Read more about them here.

Package includes:

 - new ideas, supplies and other inspiration for each teacher’s current Yoga Foster program

 - wellness products to help keep them healthy and strong all school year

 - discounts, samples, and other sweet things from our retail partners

Interested in getting involved? Contact us! Our next boxes ship mid-December and we’d love for you to be a part of it.

Storytelling has been around since the dawn of time. It’s a tool we can all use to build relationships with one another, understand each other better, and pass along our knowledge and experiences. However, while everyone has stories to tell, not everyone is a good storyteller! We have a few suggestions to help you become an awesome storyteller! 

  • Timing: The old say, “timing is everything,” absolutely applies when it comes to telling a story. Understand the flow of a conversation and the attention of your audience before launching into a story. A master storyteller knows how to recognize the best times to tell a relevant story for maximum effect.
  • Don’t Rush: There is no finish line or time limit when it comes to telling a story. Make sure you speak in a relaxed and informal style of speech to capture your audience’s attention and keep them at the edge of their seats! Use the time to also include creative adjectives and side notes to add depth to your story. 
  • Tell What You Know: Make sure to show your personality when storytelling. By opening up about your interests and experiences, you’ll be able to better relate to your audience. Telling more engaging stories is also a great way to build confidence - just like all the kids in our classes! 
Yoga Foster is full of amazingly talented teachers who can turn any idea into an enriching and adventurous story; they have truly mastered the art of storytelling.  http://yogafoster.org/#team