yoga

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.

 

A Lesson in Acceptance

As we break into the New Year, many people are focused on the "New You". At Blooma, we think you are great just the way you are. You are perfect. You are enough. Thank you to Blooma mama Shea for teaching us a lesson in acceptance. Of our talents, our failures, and all that life throws at us!

Be an individual. Be yourself. Be unique. Follow your dreams. Be who you are. These are all maxims that we hear every day. They are meant to be inspiring and move us to work on ourselves.  However, it often takes a dose of bravery to truly show and be your individual and unique self, instead of hiding behind the person you think you should be.

As a married mother of two on the ground and one in utero, sister, friend, neighbor and confidant, am still trying to figure out who I am. Yes, I can tell you that the beach by the ocean (doesn’t even matter where as long as there is saltwater and ocean waves) is my happy place. I can tell you the books I have devoured and the ones that I slogged through, just to finish for book club. I can tell you that I enjoy going on a run and practicing yoga. And, I can tell you that there was great joy in my heart when all of my siblings were together for Christmas, as we live in all different states across the country.

But, I can also admit to you, that sometimes it’s hard to accept who I am. It is amazing when you look at humanity, and even smaller, at the local culture, and see how similar we all are. Each of us follow very similar patterns – patterns in our day, in our human development, in our manners of speech. However, even in all these similarities, each person is gifted with specific characteristics that make us, us. For example, I’ve been given the gift of gab. I can pretty much chat with whoever walks into my path. I find it relatively easy to small talk, and can usually find something to talk about with whoever I am with. Yes – I know those who are even better at it than I am. But, I do know it is a gift, and I love having this strength in my pocket.

 I have, however, NOT been given the gift of craftiness. It will take a lot for me to pull out the scissors, glue, and glitter. I can sew on a button, but I cannot make a Halloween costume. A few years ago, I tried to make my son a Halloween costume from scratch – because I truly thought that’s what a successful mom should do. However, it was a complete disaster, and was only saved by my own mom, who can actually sew. I learned that, frankly, I don’t really want to learn how to be crafty. That being crafty does not excite me and brings unneeded pressure and stress. I will accept my failure at a homemade Halloween costume, hand it off to another person, and I will marvel and compliment you on your talent. But, I am going to be right here, with my own set of strengths.

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I am still learning to accept who I am, what strengths (and weaknesses) I have been given, and how I can learn to be the best version of myself. And, I am grateful for those that already accept me as I am - My family, children, friends. I remind myself that I must practice what I preach. I want my children to love themselves, accept their strengths, and accept the times that they may fail. To instill this in them, I first need to fully accept myself. My strengths. My failures.

I have been given many gifts, and for this I am grateful. My strengths are different than those of the mama next to me. They may be similar to the mama in the other room. But these similarities, differences, strengths, and weaknesses are what make us human, and what make it so important to support one another in the community. So, begin your own journey of acceptance and what you are meant to be for this world.

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Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work

Photo Credit: Laura Rae Photography

My Blooma Journey: Motherhood, Yoga, Community and Beyond.

On the journey of parenthood, there are many things that divide us; but I like to believe that there are many more things that unite us. When it comes to parenting, we all long for community, desire acceptance, and need a safe, sacred space where we - and our choices and experiences - are heard and understood. 

Years ago, I was new to the Twin Cities area and was also newly pregnant with my second child. I had worked in the health care sector for years and could help support my family financially. But, I wasn't in love with what I did and I struggled to find the balance I knew I needed. 

One of the biggest problems in finding balance was that I wasn’t great at carving out time for myself, and certainly, not in a way that encouraged me to “connect” with my baby. It wasn’t uncommon for days to pass without a single thought of my pregnancy, the baby, or what I needed for myself. This only left me feeling more drained with each passing day. I knew this wasn’t sustainable for myself, my family, and my new baby. I needed a change. 

It was around this time that I hesitantly walked through Blooma’s doors. To clarify, I was no yogi. In fact, I was fairly convinced that yoga was not for me. Frankly, yoga seemed like a waste of time. Even so, I left the treadmill at the gym and stepped into the Blooma studio. I moved. I flowed. I breathed. I listened to my heart. I listened to my baby. I found intention. I found community. I discovered how to simply BE. I was hooked. 

From that point on, my yoga mat became a near permanent structure beneath my feet. I clung to every word relating to birth, empowerment, fear, love, and everything in between. I valued the brief interactions post-practice with instructors and fellow mamas alike. I raced out of my corporate office at the end of the day to be greeted by the calming energy that the yoga studio brought to my day and my heart. Blooma was my breath of fresh air amidst an ocean of uncertainty, fear and letting go…

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Months went by. The Prenatal Yoga Classes, that I attended so regularly, prepared me for one of the biggest moments of my life. After much anticipation, I birthed my baby on a pale Christmas Eve morning in runner’s lunge, a pose I had practiced so frequently that my body recognized it as familiar. The woman - my doula - who held my hand, hair and heart throughout my birth experience was the same woman who had guided me through countless yoga practices. Her voice brought me comfort and confidence. She was exactly what I needed during my birth - and Blooma had brought us together.

I had given birth, but I continued to crave Blooma’s energy. In my postpartum days, I religiously attended New Mama Group and BYOB, all creating community and new friendships with fellow mamas who were in the trenches right along with me. Blooma was the one place I could openly breastfeed my baby (because openly was the only way I knew how) and that was enough reason for me to show up, day in and day out.

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Before I knew it, my baby was crawling and we were attending Little Movers and Crawlers Classes together, and then Tots Classes. My oldest son enjoyed Little Kids Yoga and I hit up Vinyasa Classes when I could, in an effort to fill my own cup and focus on myself.As time continued to pass, I felt that my coveted community, my place of prenatal and postpartum solace, was slipping through my fingers. I still had Flow and Barre Classes, but my prenatal and postpartum connection was swiftly ending. My baby was growing. I had spent nearly every day at Blooma. I didn’t want LESS of my Blooma community, I wanted MORE. I grieved at the thought of slowly removing myself from Blooma’s walls. 

I began to seriously reflect on how much I wanted to give back to the community of other new parents, birth workers, and instructors that had selflessly given to me when I needed it most. I wanted to be a part of providing a loving, open, sacred space for prenatal/postpartum mamas to show up, find themselves and connect with their babies, just like I had done in the years before.

Of course, I continued to work the 9-5 job I always had, but I took risks. I didn’t have much of a plan and had no idea where I would end up, but for the first time in my life, it didn’t matter because I knew I had a hell of a lot of passion behind the momentum that was driving my decisions. I dove head first into the numerous training's Blooma had to offer including the BYOB Yoga Teacher Training, DONA Birth Doula Training, DONA Postpartum Doula Training, and Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training. I also pursued, with encouragement from my Blooma tribe, the training needed to become a LAMAZE-Certified Childbirth Educator.

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I originally pursued the training's to give back, but I've discovered that I've received so much more. In the end, I left my job in health care and dedicated my time to serving women as a Birth and Postpartum Doula, a Yoga Instructor, a New Mama Group Facilitator, and a Childbirth Educator within the Blooma community and beyond. Originally, I stepped through Blooma’s doors to say “I gave yoga a try” and instead I found what I had unknowingly been seeking for far too long: deep-seeded desires around acceptance, community and sacred space. 

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I’m grateful to say that Blooma has showed up for me in ways that I least expected. It is a yoga studio but it is much more than that. Because of Blooma and all that it is, I have discovered the foundation to help confidently build my family, my community and my inner self.

 

In love, light and gratitude, Sarah Bach-Bergs

Blooma Yoga Instructor, LAMAZE-Certified Childbirth Educator, DONA-Trained Birth and Postpartum Doula, Mama of two crazy boys, wife, friend, and wilderness lover.

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Photo Credit:

First image and Black and White Photo: Meghan Pate

New Mama Group Image: Danica Donnelly

 

 

6 Yoga Poses Prenatal Mama’s Can Rock!

Pregnancy is such a transformative time. The word 'Birth' is basically synonymous with the word 'Transformation'. Your body is changing, emotions and hormones are in flux, and life may feel chaotic and out of control. Just as pregnancy and birth are transformative, so is Prenatal Yoga.

At Blooma’s Prenatal Yoga Classes, we UNDERSTAND. We get it. We acknowledge it all - the waves of the ups and downs, the way you feel unfamiliar of your own body, and the fear change can bring. Our intention at Blooma is to educate, support and give you the BEST yoga postures to comfort your pregnant body and mind each class. Coming to class can help you perfect your form to gain the most from your practice.

Here are our Top 6 Favorite Prenatal Yoga Poses for Expecting Mamas.

1. Cat/Table Pose (MARJARYASANA / BHARMANASA)

cattableposeGet on all 4’s! This rocking movement back and forth from Cat to Table is my # 1 all time favorite. As the baby grows, more weight and tension is put on the lumbar spine and muscles of the lower back. The entire spine will benefit from gliding easily back and forth and this movement can encourage baby into “optimal fetal positioning” for delivery. It could very well be a position that supports you in labor!

*Replace cow pose with table to avoid added pressure to the lumbar spine and to avoid over stretching of the abdominal muscles.

2. Child’s Pose (BALASANA)

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Child’s pose is the great pose of surrender. Allow your knees to go wide to make room for baby and bring your toes in towards each other. Fully let go with the support of either a blanket or pillow under the knees, and a bolster under the chest. This posture can help fight off nausea, relieve stress and anxiety, and help to quiet down the mind. Your head can go to either side or forehead down. Eyes closed. Deep breath. Let go.

3. Squat Pose (MALASANA)

squatposeTake a yoga block underneath your sitting bones, take your knees wide and have a squat! You can put a blanket underneath the heels for more lift. Squat pose will help to open the hips and lengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. Constipation is common in pregnancy and this pose can help aid in digestion. For more support, you can try a squat while leaning against a wall. *Don’t hold squat pose if your baby is breech and you are 34 weeks or more.

4. Warrior 2 (VIRABHADRASANA II)

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The pose of confidence! This hip-opener, leg-strengthener, heart-opener, mind-bender is a must for every prenatal yoga mama. Finding strength, balance, breath and inner confidence in Warrior 2 will help create that same confidence on your birthing day. Learn to breathe into all parts of your body here. Check in with your front knee and make sure it is guiding towards your front foot’s pinky toe side. Open up that front hip, ground down in the back foot just as much. Feel baby snuggle up and in while your tailbone lengthens down. Heart open with your hands reaching wide - and breathe!

5. Goddess Pose (UTKATA KONASANA)

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At Blooma we call this the “Mothership of all poses." In this pose we get to tune into sensation. We get to see what shows up in our minds as we face challenge. Goddess pose is not only an endurance builder, but a confidence maker. Open the hips, lengthen the inner thighs and pelvic floor muscles and goddess pose will create an opening in the pelvis. This pose is a strengthens the muscles in the legs. We often have a tendency to internally drop the knee, so line it up with your second toe for proper placement. Imagine your scratching your back against a tree behind you to keep the shoulders and torso up tall. Glide side to side, then come back and find your center. Let your fire-y goddess shine! With every exhale you can sink down and create a mini micro-bend in the legs to feel your strength!

6) Final Resting Pose (SAVASANA)

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It’s time to allow your body to soak in all of your hard work. The MOST important pose in yoga- savasana. When you prepare to lie down, sit on the left side of your hips and slide your arm down until you reach the side seam of your body onto the mat. Laying down on your left side (again to promote optimal fetal positioning) let your left leg stay extended long. Place a bolster underneath your right knee, bent at 90 degrees, with your right foot on the bolster as well. A second pillow can go underneath your head. Close your eyes and rest mama. You deserve it.

During every prenatal yoga practice be compassionate and kind to yourself, listen to your body, and most of all know how loved you are.

**Please consult with your health care provider before starting a prenatal yoga practice.

Written by Stacy Seebart E-RYT500/ RPYT Stacy-Seebart
Director of Blooma’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training

Celebrating Nine Years of Blooma Love: A Personal Account From A Blooma Mama

As Blooma celebrates its 9th Birthday, we want to celebrate the people that have contributed to our success and have held our mission so close to their heart. Lauren started at Blooma as part of our childcare team. Nine years later, she basically runs the place. Not only has she seen her career grow, and Blooma develop into the community it is today, but she has become a mother herself, THREE times! She is kind, warm, hardworking, and dedicated to the mission of Blooma. We asked her to reflect on the past nine years, and we won't lie, some moments brought us to tears. Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do! Happy Birthday Blooma!

I started my journey with Blooma as a college student, completely unaware that my hourly job in the childcare room was going to impact the next decade of my life.  At that point, I hadn't thought much about yoga or birth and I couldn’t imagine then what my life would be like 9 years later.  But here I am!  Now a mama of 3, married to my incredible husband, and the Director of Operations for Blooma. 

Reflecting on the last 9 years with Blooma, I am overwhelmed with the abundance of personal and professional growth opportunities I have experienced and witnessed. 

As a business, Blooma has grown in many different ways.  Our staff has grown from a handful to almost 100. We have moved and added locations across the twin cities and trained yoga instructors and birth doulas across the world.  We’ve developed and fine-tuned class offerings, education, and wellness services.  We’ve touched the lives of thousands of mamas and their families, made mistakes and celebrated enormous triumphs.  And, with the heart and passion of our leader, Sarah, we will continue to identify and serve the needs of our mamas.  

Blooma’s growth wouldn’t have happened without the perseverance of the women (and a few men!) that pour their energy into Blooma.  I have met so many inspiring people through our studios in the past 9 years.  Women and men who are on a mission to make our world a better place.  Our staff and support team has been comprised of mothers, sisters, doulas, writers, teachers, artists, designers, farmers, lawyers, midwives, accountants, grant writers, marketing managers, world travelers, photographers, small business owners, musicians…and I can keep going for hours!  It is humbling to think of the talent, passion and knowledge I have been surrounded by for so many years.  

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I smile when I think about the ways Blooma has impacted me personally, as a mother and sister.  While working for Blooma, I have been blessed to give birth 3 times. Three very different births. I had a natural hospital birth, a beautiful home water birth, and an unplanned 35-week cesarean birth - each with my friend, doula, and boss Sarah by my side (Literally, I wouldn't let her leave my side). During each birth, I drew from the knowledge and strength that Blooma had given me.  Through yoga I learned to manage my breath, Doula Training provided me with comfort measures, and I found strength in every woman who had shared their birth story.

In the last nine years, I have walked with my fellow mamas through their own unique journeys. From infertility and loss, to planned and unplanned pregnancies.  While I have witnessed hard pregnancies and traumatic births, I have been humbled to witness smooth, complication-free pregnancies and swift births.  I have journeyed through perinatal mood disorders both personally and with other mamas, and have been honored to provide postpartum care to my sisters that they had provided for me - holding their newborns, bringing meals, and offering encouragement.  

 

We all have a journey. I never would have predicted this would be mine.  My passion for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life has turned into a career in a supportive work environment, allowing me to navigate the "working mom" balance.  I have been given an opportunity to apply my skill set in a business with a mission so near to my heart. I am thankful for each client I encounter, each co-worker that’s worked alongside me, every challenge we overcame together, the support I received during my pregnancies, and most significantly of all, for Sarah.  I am beyond grateful for what Blooma has given to me in the last 9 years and can't begin to imagine what the next 9 will bring!

 

Written by Lauren Herbeck

Director of Operations at Blooma

Wife and Mother of Three, Friend to Us All

 

The Top 6 Things We Are Looking Forward To At Bellyrama 2016!

1) Unique Yoga Style for Everyone- Bellyrama has its own unique style of yoga. Different styles are blended together to create yoga fit for any body type, age or skill level. Bellyrama yoga isn’t a challenge, it’s a refresh.

2) Lots of Amazing Local Vendors- Talk about options! We are keeping it local and hosting booths of all sorts to showcase vendors from the Twin Cities. From baby clothes and books to vitamins and herbs, there is a little something for everyone.

3) Community Get Together- This is what it is all about. Bellyrama unites the community. Mamas, dads, grandparents, babies, tots, uncles, aunts, and neighbors. Everyone is welcome with open arms, minds and hearts. This is a no judgement zone.

4) Seeing Old Friends and Meeting New Ones- Bellyrama is a time for celebrating. Celebrating the bonds of friendship created and welcoming all new mamas as they join the Blooma family. We encourage everyone to bring a friend and introduce them to the support of the Blooma community.

5) First Look at Navel (Sarah Longacre’s new adventure!)- Finally a “go-to pant” made just for Mamas that are “In The Middle Of It All.” Blooma Founder Sarah Longacre will be launching her much anticipated clothing line, focused on mamas and their new bodies. At the event, Navel will have a limited number of their first edition pant available to purchase at a discount. Don’t miss this opportunity to try on Sarah’s new creation and take a pair home!

6) Whole Foods Market Yummies- What’s that you say? Whole Foods yummy vittles!? That’s right. This year Blooma teamed up with Whole Foods to supply Mamas and their families with fresh fruits, beverages, and other snacks. Whole Foods will also be sponsoring a Rest Nest, the perfect place to feed your little one, grab a band aid, change a diaper, or take a second for yourself.

Don't forget to mark your calendar for Bellyrama, September 10th at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

Get more information and RSVP here: http://www.blooma.com/bellyrama/

-Blooma Staff