Teaching Yoga

What's In Store - Bring Your Own Baby Teacher Training

At 22, I was introduced to the practice of yoga at the Piedmont Yoga studio in Oakland, California.  Since then, yoga has been a constant.  When I step onto my mat, it is a feeling of coming home, an invitation to begin again, align breath, body, mind and spirit.  Yoga has kept me conscious and thoughtful during times of change and transformation - especially when I became a mother.  Being able to practice yoga with both of my children since they were infants, introduced a way of being together that I still sense and feel 10 and 13 years later.

My Bring Your Own Baby (BYOB) Yoga journey began when my daughter Reyna was four months old.  I packed us up - curious, nervous, and ready to try something new.  It was time to change up our daily routine and get into a community with other new mamas.  One class in and I was hooked. I was transformed by this mama and baby outing option.  I loved coming to a place where we were not talking about parenting; instead we were parenting.  We practiced yoga with our babies in the form of mindfulness, 100% presence, non-judgement, acceptance, and surrender.  I am thankful to have intentionally nourished these qualities by attending BYOB Yoga. This hour carved out of my day to move, breathe, and connect with my baby in the safe and loving company of other mothers was truly sacred time; time that I reflect on with a savoring sweetness. 

In 2006, we were blessed with Boden.  More confident with my parenting through the practice of Bring Your Own Baby Yoga, I could really focus on getting to know this little guy.  What made the experience of BYOB Yoga a unique form of parent education was the space we were given to navigate our new relationship.  The sequence taught during class introduced a variety of ways to connect:  centering together with breath, physically connecting through infant massage, mindfully moving with integrated baby and parent yoga poses, and at the end of class an opportunity to rest together.  BYOB Yoga cultivated an awareness of how to be myself while navigating my role as mother and how to trust my response in tending to the dynamic needs of an infant.

 A few years later I was delighted at the opportunity to study with Lisa Bergly, creator of Yogabonding.  I became a certified postnatal yoga instructor and began to guide sweet mamas, papas and their little ones through a Yogabonding class.  Now that more time has passed, I am fortunate to be teaching BYOB yoga at Blooma. A few times a week I get to offer a class where moms and dads can show up during this this tender and vulnerable season, create community, move and breathe together, and practice a sequence developed to deepen the level of connection between parent and child. 

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Absolutely in love with teaching this format of a parent and baby yoga class, I was excited when Sarah Longacre Ehlers asked me to design a Bring Your Baby Teacher Training for Blooma.  Seeking another perspective, more training, I traveled to Boulder to study Mommy and Me Yoga with Katie Wise.  I returned inspired and ready to integrate my learnings and my experiences into a weekend teacher training at Blooma.

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Our upcoming Bring Your Own Baby Yoga Teacher Training at Blooma is a two-day immersion, March 17 and 18. We dive into the main components of a BYOB yoga class: creating community, supporting and empowering new mamas, connecting with baby through infant massage, and yoga postures to strengthen postpartum bodies/rehabilitate the core.  Local experts in the fields of mental health, mama well-being, anatomy, and infant massage will present and inform students during this training.  Please come and join other new and experienced yoga teachers as you prepare to explore a yoga practice that focuses on the intimate relationship between mama and baby. The training is ideal for yogis, childcare providers, Nannies. Mamas, Healthcare workers and more. Prior experience with yoga is encouraged, but not required for the BYOB Teacher Training.

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Written by Betsy Elworthy Sundell, RYT: Mama of two, Yogi, Blooma teacher, creator and instructor of Blooma’s Bring Your Own Baby Yoga Teacher Training.  Betsy is also a licensed elementary education teacher and holds her MA in Education.

10 Tips for Teaching Yoga to Toddlers

Teaching toddlers can be a lot of fun AND very challenging. Just what is appropriate for these youngest of Yoga students?

I just started another six-week session called Toddler Time Yoga yesterday. Many kids who have attended previous sessions were there, along with several new moms and kids. The kids who had attended previously knew me and our class routine.  The new kids, and new moms were at times overwhelmed.  I, along with other experienced moms, assured them that their child's free-style behavior was just fine for class and that they too would learn the routine and structure while making new friends and having fun. 

Teaching toddlers is a blast because they are full-on. You know when they are happy – squealing with delight, and when they are sad – on the floor with arms flailing and tears flowing.  It's like they are "Life Force" coming out of a fire hose.  I've tried many different techniques and refined a structure over the years that is engaging and fun for them, while keeping parents sane.

People often ask for suggestions for teaching Yoga to this very young age group so I’ve compiled a list that can help you get toddlers into Yoga.

Ten Tips for Teaching Toddlers:

1) Provide structure– At this age everything is new, so by providing some predictability, toddlers can relax and enjoy knowing what’s next.

2) Include the parents– Parents practice along to model the practice.  It gives them a chance to have fun and relax too!

3) Surprise and delight with props– This is one thing that makes teaching this age range so much fun. They are thrilled by so much. Give them scarves to run around with while you play a dance song = sheer joy.

4) Manage your expectations– Both teachers and parents will have a lot more fun if it is understood where a 2.5 year old is at developmentally. Sitting still and paying attention are skills yet to be developed.

5) Play music– There are thousands of great bands catering to the toddler set. The music is peppy and often involves lyrics that direct the little ones how to move.  One of my most used songs is Airplane Song by The Laurie Berkener Band.

6) Use storybooks– Storybooks include characters that can be turned into yoga poses. The images are engaging and it keeps the class moving along.

7) Promote a language-rich environment– Language acquisition is a major developmental endeavor at this age so expose them to both written and spoken words and letter recognition. For example, a class about the letter T.

8) Allow space for their big emotions– The happiest kid in my class yesterday was also the most upset. It’s not until kids are 4 or 5 that they are able to start reigning in emotions.

9) Be a source of steadiness and calm– Your presence has a huge impact on the kids. Both the parents and the kids are looking to you for direction as well as a sense of the energy level. When you are even-keeled, your class will be too.

10) Have fun! Don’t worry too much about proper alignment or even getting all the way through the book. These kids are socializing, turn-taking, talking, getting in lots of gross motor movement and having fun. Relax and join them in the fun!

Want to learn all the tips and tricks for teaching yoga to Toddlers? Join Mira Binzen for her professional training, "Teaching Yoga to Toddlers", February 4th at Blooma. Interested in teaching to the whole family? She will also be leading "Teaching Yoga to Families", February 5th.

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Mira Binzen has a degree in child psychology and is a certified Yoga and iRest® Yoga Nidra teacher, Yoga therapist, and co-founder of Global Family Yoga (globalfamilyyoga.com), a teacher-training program based in Chicago, focused on children and families.