Friday, February 1, 2013

Chinese New Year and Yoga (Ages 3-5)

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Happy New Year in Chinese)
The Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holiday's. February 10, 2013 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year and the first day of the year of the Snake. Chinese tradition dictates that those born in Snake years tend to be great thinkers and very wise. Other traits of the Snake; determined, passionate, sympathetic, calm and loyal.
I really enjoy celebrating the Chinese New Year with yoga. I created a colorful, fun and energizing class celebrating the Year of the Snake and wanted to share it with you!
Props that can be used, but defiantly not a "have too": Stuffed animals (especially a snake) that represent the animals in the Chinese Zodiac and Globe (I travel with a blow-up globe).
Sharing Circle:
Gathered the kids in a sharing circle's and tell then you are going on an adventure to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the year of the Snake. Continue to show where China is on the map.
(My class is focused on ages 3-5 years old, so I have to keep it simple. However, if you have older yogis, you can go into more depth of the tradition and possibly the lunar calendar.)

Breath of Joy
Sun-ray Circle
Chair Pose
Low Lunge
Twisting Dragon
Downward Dog
Childs Pose
Seated Twist
* Please remember what you do for one side of the body, you do for the other side.
Have the children lay on their backs on their mats/towel. Deep breathing. When the children are calm and balanced (centered), it is time to share a special Snake book.
I decided on a book from the Tales of the Chinese Zodiac series, Year of the Snake by Oliver Chin and illustrated by Jennifer Wood.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


 "Don't cry because it's over ~ smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  I LOVE the holidays, however, I am ready to get back to a normal (I am laughing as I write "normal") schedule. The kids and I have had a blast, but tomorrow school starts and so does spring/summer yoga planning. Writing down playful ideas, creative games along with arts/crafts to make the kiddos bend, stretch and twist without noticing. Sounds fun, huh.

I hope with the new year, I engage and share more on PHY blog. It seems, that I get so caught up in creating yoga classes and sharing, that I forget to update everyone with Peaceful Hearts Yoga news and wellness actives. Can we say, New Years resolution?

Namaste ~

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ProjectSTAAR - Prep for Success!

My son is in 3rd grade; which means he will be taking the STAAR test. The STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness), is a series of state-mandated standardized tests used in Texas public primary and secondary schools to assess a student's achievements and knowledge learned in the grade level. Personally, I think the overflow of high stakes tests are damaging the ultimate success of the individual student and our educational system. However, they are not going away any time soon, so I like to look for the positive and make the most of the situation. 

With that being said, here I am preparing yoga classes for STAAR preparation.  My focus is to create classes that incorporates the standard/core subjects (reading, writing, math, science & social studies) with relaxation skills, enjoyment and breath of light into the world of yoga poses and philosophies. The object of each class will be to educate our 3rd-8th graders in the community how to prep for success

The word test (minor or major grade) only brings stress and anxiety for the student, teacher and his/her parent. It doesn't have to be that way. I will be updating the Peaceful Hearts Yoga blog with STAAR preparation tips & strategies as well as how to use the tools of yoga to foster happier, healthier successful students. Tools that students will be able to take with them everywhere they go...including adulthood. :)

Affirmation: I am successful and proud of myself

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Moshup the Indian Giant

I love Indian history, even if some stories are considered folktales/myths. I think that is what makes the story more intriguing. The link below includes a full lesson plan on Moshup, the Indian Giant. This is a great lesson plan for ages 4-12 years old.

As history teaches us, the Wampanoag tribe were the first to greet the Pilgrims. Moshup was a hero to the Wampanoag tribe and tried to teach them self-reliance. He also warned them of the Europeans that were soon to arrive...

Moshup the Indian Giant Lesson Plan

I love learning new things and I love yoga, so when they are combined into one lesson...I am a HAPPY YOGI!!

Namaste ~

Monday, November 5, 2012

Five Little Turkeys

This is a cute class that I put together for my daughters pre-k class last year. They needed something that would take up 30 minutes while they were preparing for the Thanksgiving party. I found this classic poem, Five Little Turkeys and added yoga movement.  Everything is better with yoga! It worked out perfect. This year, I added a few more things making it a full 45-60 minute lesson and thought I would share. 

If you are strapped for time and are in need of a Thanksgiving activity, Five Little Turkeys with Yoga movement is the remedy. I have included everything you will need below, but please feel free to add your own creativity. I hope your little yogis enjoy waddling and gobbling as much as I have enjoyed sharing this with you.

Lesson Plan
Five Little Turkeys
With Yoga Movement

Age Group: 3 to 12 years old or Pre-K to 5th grade

Related Activities: 
I have been blessed to entertain 4 kindergarten classes this year, so these activities are specifically Kindergartners. Sorry, but I had to download the set. I plan on using the emergent reader, feather counter and turkey tree map because it include site words. These activities are great "take home" gifts too. 

Other Activities:
Some more ideas; use the feathers from the floating feather game to create your own turkey or a beautiful Indian headdress. 

Book Selection: Thanks for Thanksgiving (Of course, you can read a book of your choice.)

Song: Turkey Pokey 
Tune: Hokey Pokey 
Sing the Hokey Pokey with the verses below,
but then the last line goes as follows:"You do the Turkey Pokey and you gobble all around, that's what it's all about." 

You put your right wing in. 
You put your right wing out. 
You put your right wing in, 
And you shake it all about. 
You do the turkey pokey
And you turn yourself around. 
That's what it's all about. 

Additional verses: Left wing, Drumsticks, Stuffing, Wattle (Head), Tail Feathers (Bottom), Turkey body.

Downloadable Five Little Turkey Poem

I am fun

Five Little Turkeys with Yoga Movement
You will need: Autumn Colored (Red, Yellow, Gold) feathers. Of course, feathers of any color will work. 
Celebrate Thanksgiving with the power of breath. Before turning into waddling, gobbling turkeys, children need will have fun playing the floating feather game. Using only your breath (no finger or toes), keep the feather afloat. Don't let it touch the floor! Give this game a twist and play feather - volleyball with a friend. Blow it back and forth...nice and controlled.  Next, it is time to warm up the neck and spine. Ask the children if they know why Turkeys bob their head when they walk. The answer is to help their balance and vision. Start in Easy pose (criss cross applesauce); breathing in through your nose gently drop your chin to your chest and exhale. On your inhale, roll your neck to the right, and exhale. Repeat neck rolls 4 times, slowly. This can be done in the students desk chair as well. 

Are all the Turkey's awake and loose because it is time to get your waddle on!   

Five little turkeys standing at the door 
(Mountain Pose: stand nice and tall)

One waddled off and then their were four 
(Standing Spinal Twist: extend both arms out to either side and twist at the waist from side to side)

Four little turkeys sitting near a tree 
(Chair Pose: extend both arms out in-front of you and squat down as far as you can, as if you were sitting in a chair.)

One waddled off and then their were three 
(Standing Head to Knee Pose: with arms interlocked behind you. Do both legs)

Three little turkeys with nothing to do 
(Stand in Mountain pose: shrug your shoulders and turn head from right to left)

One waddled off and then their were two 
(Inch Worm: start in Mountain pose, bend forward using your hands to walk out as if you were going to do a push-up, then walk your hands back to forward fold and up into mountain. This is challenging yet fun!)

Two little turkeys in the morning sun 
(Chest opener with arms interlocked behind the back looking up at the the sun.)

One waddled off and then their was one 
(Swaying Tree: standing tall, stretch right arm down the side of your right leg and reach with your left arm straight above your head. Bend to the right side. Switch sides)

One little turkey better run away 
(Run in Place) 

For soon it will be Thanksgiving day! 
(Squat down (Garland pose): hands in prayer mudra and jump throwing arms up in the air with excitement)

Five Little Turkey's enjoying quiet time after their Thanksgiving Feast. 
If you are in a classroom atmosphere (no space) have the student sit in their chair and rest their head on their arm and relax. If you have room (on a yoga mat) have the student rest in Child’s Pose. 

A big thank you to for the free downloads.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


It's ThanksGIVING! We have this special day each year to concentrate and give thanks to the blessings that flow through our lives. We return those blessings to family, friends and the community by kind thoughts and acts. 

Gratitude is a major practice in yoga. I have put together a few fun ideas for a Thanksgiving-themed kids yoga class. My ideas are inspired & tailored around gratitude and how we can incorporate it into our daily lives throughout the year. 

Gratitude Check-in
After students have checked in and are ready to begin class, take time for a gratitude check in.  I like to pass a ball around the yoga class...when you receive it, share one thing you are thankful for, right now, in your life. Perhaps introduce the concept of dedicating your practice (the fruits of your efforts) to someone else. Who or what would you like to dedicate your practice to? Who or what are you thankful for?

I included a couple books that I love. You can read them before you begin your practice OR afterwards to close your practice. These are just ideas, you can defiantly add your own choice of book to read aloud to the students. 
Great for ages 3 - 12 years old. Humorous and cute! 

Great for Ages 4 - 5 years old. Very cute!

Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!
Floating Feather Game: Using only your breath (no fingers or toes), keep your feather afloat. Don't let it touch the floor. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, play feather-volleyball with a friend. With a controlled breath, have students blow the feather to each other. They will be practicing giving and receiving. If you have room and want to really throw in a twist with breath, have the students stand in a circle and try passing the feather around using only one breath per student. (I like to use fall colored feathers (red, orange, gold), but feathers of any color will work) 

Poses of Gratitude
Ask the students to silently think of the who or what they are dedicating their practice for/to. As they move through each yoga pose, ask them to think about all the things they are thankful for. 

I am grateful for our fruit tree. It provides our family with delicious fruit. What type of fruit is your favorite? Imagine how it will taste. Yummy in your tummy! 
(Tree Pose: start in Mountain Pose. Imagine roots are growing down into the earth to anchor your left foot. Lift your right foot as much as you like. You can place it on the floor next to your ankle, to lean it against your calf or thigh. Never rest it on you knee. For more of a challenge, reach your hands towards the sky.)   

I am grateful for rain showers. It makes helps the flowers grown and makes the grass green.  (Imagine the pretty flowers, what colors are they? What do they smell like?)
(Lunge: start in Mountain pose. Slowly bend forward. Allow your body to hang for a breath or two. Place hands on either side of your left foot, step your right for back. Look up and feel the rain drops hit your face.) 

I am grateful for our beautiful Earth. She gives us so many treasures. Can you think of some? Sparkly crystals and minerals. 
(Peak -a-Boo: Start in butterfly pose and place hands under each knee. Slowly moving hands forward, lower crown to the floor. Breathe for 4 counts and slowly come back up.) 

I am grateful for the warm sun. It greets me every morning with a smile. What other things does the sun do for us?
(Rock and Roll: lie on your back, pull your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around your legs. Give yourself a nice hug. Be grateful for you. Pull your head up so your body is tight so you can rock with  more energy. Energy from the sun. Rock your body back and forth 3 times.) 

I am grateful for shooting stars in the night sky. What makes a star shine so bright? What is the star closet to Earth? (The sun). Lets make ourselves into stars giving off a lot of energy. Imagine making a wish - and your wish coming true! (words to the teacher or instructor: Watch the students faces light up as they are imaging their wish coming true. As a yoga instructor, that very moment makes me so happy and grateful for what I am doing brings joy to others. 
(Star Pose: . Stand and spread your feet apart. Press your feet into the earth. Raise your arms and reach out, as if someone is gently pulling your arms into space. Raise your head tall. Take a deep breath. Do you feel the energy moving from your arms and legs. You are a bright - shining star. Repeat 3.)

Visualization and Savasana 
(If there is not enough room for children to lie on the floor, have the children sit in their chair with their head on the table. 
Floating and Sinking: (courtesy of Yael Calhoun)
"Okay, now just let your body float. You are floating on a cloud. You are floating on a magic cloud, gently and safely holding you up and all cares are leaving you. The cloud is taking you to a resting place of comfort, but don't worry about where right now. Just enjoy floating...resting...and you are now gently resting on the earth. Gently sinking into the soft, safe earth. You are getting heavier and heavier  and more and more relaxed, sinking down into the deep, calm, resting place. Let your body restore itself and rest. 

After many gentle breaths have passed, say, "Now slowly start to wiggle your fingers and toes. Stretch your hands over your head and stretch from tip to toe. If lying on the floor, roll over on to your side and take several deep breaths. When you are ready, help yourself up and still in easy pose. 

Remember: Gratitude is an everyday practice. 

Being Thankful Song/Chant

I'm thankful for my friends 
And my family. 
I'm thankful for the food I eat. 
I'm happy to be me!

Namaste ~

Friday, October 26, 2012


In the spirit of the Baseball World Series Giants vs. Tigers, I am excited to post this inspiring video of famous Cy-Young award winner Giants pitcher Barry Zito. 

I showed this video to my son Alex who is a huge Giants fan. He also started his pitching career this season. One of the first things my husband told Alex was he needed to work on his balance, he needed to do yoga because a pitcher needs to have excellent balance to be successful.

"My dialy regimen usually includes groin and hip openers like Pigeon, Frog and Warrior poses because they're kind of like the positions I find myself in when I am pitching" Zito says.

With that being said, Alex trys to stretch and practice his balance asanas in the evenings before bed.   

Barry Zito started practicing yoga in 1998. 
He still contiues to practice yoga whether it is in a studio, his house or on the baseball field.