All of us are bombarded with advertisements, pressured to always gather more, and are rarely satisfied by simply being. This is especially true for our children, as they may not yet have the ability to filter through the materialistic messages; instead their “need” for the newest, fastest, coolest products is intensified and often rewarded.

As a yoga teacher, classroom teacher, and mom, I feel particularly responsible for raising grateful children. Aparigraha is a Sanskrit term meaning “greedless-ness” or “gratitude”, and it is one of the basic teachings of Yoga. This does not just mean by simply saying “Thank you”, although manners are very important. My goal for my kids is to encourage and inspire genuine gratitude to the people and situations that allow them to be who they are and enjoy what they have. To that end, here are a few of my favorite yoga activities that promote gratitude.

Sun Salutations: A staple in many Yoga classes, Sun Salutations are a physical way to say “Thank You” to our sun, the primary source of life. In the sequence, we literally bow to the sun, as well as open our hearts to its light. There are several variations to the Sun Salutation, but two of my favorites are the energetic Sargeant Salutations and the creative Animal Sound Salutations.

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Dedicated Practice: Start the yoga class with a dedication. Each child receives a piece of paper (Post-It notes work well) and a pencil or marker. Children choose a person they would ike to dedicate their practice to and write that person’s name on the paper. If “dedicate” is too confusing for your younger kids, direct them to choose somebody that they would like to do yoga with that can not be here with them. Their practices can be dedicated to friends, a far away relative, even someone they saw at the store. Encourage the kids to choose someone that they would like to thank for being special. They then hold the note in their hands, hold their hands at their heart, and take 3 long breaths, in and out. With each breath, children picture their person and send them peace and joy. Finally, they can either put the slip of paper on top of their mat as a visual reminder, or slip it underneath the mat to keep it private. Remind them during class to think about their special person and send them the good feelings they are getting from yoga.

Orange You Grateful: This game requires an orange or an orange ball (or 2 if it is a large group) and some tummy muscles! The goal of the game is to pass the orange around the circle, only using y15483952031_74710694fd_zour feet. Everyone sits in a circle, in cobbler pose, about knee-to-knee. One person holds the orange in her feet and shares one thing she is grateful for: “Orange you grateful for ____?” Then, without allowing the orange to touch the ground and using only their feet, the orange is passed on to the next child. He then shares what he is thankful for and passes the orange. Kidding Around Yoga wrote a fun song to go along with the orange passing.

Gratitude Mandala: Every child needs a piece of paper and access to crayons or markers. Starting at the center of the paper, kids draw something they are grateful for about themselves (smart brain, kind heart, curly hair, fast legs, etc). This picture should be pretty small, because around that small picture, they draw something they are grateful for in their family (a home to live in, their pets, healthy food, kind parents and siblings, etc.). Around that picture, children draw something they are grateful for in their community, then their world around that. In this way, the children have created a mandala of gratitude. For older kids, they could list what they are grateful for as a spiral, starting small and getting larger toward the outer edges.

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“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”Mahatma Gandhi

 

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Kidding Around Yoga Justice Information

 Company Justice Statement

We stand with you, our Black family. At Kidding Around Yoga, we are a worldwide multicultural community committed to bringing the teaching of yoga to children and families worldwide. Our aspirations have always been to treat all humans with dignity, respect and care. We recognize that aspirations and intentions are different from impact. Our good intentions have not diminished the impact of our lack of understanding. We acknowledge the harm experienced by Black people and people of color within our organization. We have been blind to the ways in which white supremacy culture has been at play within our materials, structures and communications. We are deeply humbled and saddened to start to realize the extent to which BIPOC have been harmed, undersupported, ignored, dismissed, asked to perform emotional labor for free, and otherwise not held in the ways we aspire to hold everyone. We appreciate those who continued to point out to us our blindspots, even when we failed to listen or honor the wisdom they were bringing. We apologize. We know it is not enough. We are committing to strengthening our anti-racist actions, to continue looking deeper into our structures and personal biases, and to make ongoing changes to embody the teachings of yoga.

This is a time to wake up, to speak up, to stand up. This is a time to fight for what is right and educate those who are still in the dark. Every Black life matters. We all recognize that these are not new issues, but this IS a new opportunity to be allies and agents of change, in large and small ways. Let us not hide from this challenge or wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting. We each have a voice and a responsibility to fight for a better, more just and peaceful world. Join us as we listen, as we learn, as we change, and as we do what we do best: share the ancient and powerful practice of yoga and meditation with children across the globe.

In addition to the ways in which KAY supports bringing yoga to all children, we specifically recognize and commit to the following:

► Our materials and content need to be reviewed and updated. Some existing content contains ideas or themes rooted in racist structures we are now becoming aware of. These have caused harm and discrimination, and we are committed to a thorough review and action steps. We will give updates as to our actions regarding these materials.

We also recognize that we have not fully understood what cultural appropriation of yoga looks like. We understand that, in certain instances, we have used yoga in a way that has diminished its roots and caused harm to the culture from which it arises. We are undergoing a deep review of our materials and marketing, in this light, and will give updates as to our actions as a result of this review.

We also recognize that asking our Black teachers to share what they are doing to guide themselves through these “trying times” was felt as insensitive by many teachers. It was not our intention to cause harm in this way, but we understand how this is emotional labor, and that teachers need to be compensated for this. We will compensate any teachers we call upon to support us in this process.

We acknowledge the lack of Black leadership within KAY, and are actively expanding the leadership team to include and elevate Black wisdom and voices. This week, we are delighted to welcome Shawandra Ford and Camelia Brown onto the leadership team. We will continue to expand our team in the coming weeks.

We are revamping our KAY4ALL training to include specific anti-racist training. We will make it mandatory and included for all trainees and trainers. Meanwhile, KAY Leadership is undergoing anti-racist trainings themselves, which will be ongoing.

We are in the process of allocating resources to support scholarships for BIPOC trainees, to fund classes in underserved communities, and to offer financial support to organizations upholding anti-racism and helping make yoga accessible and available to BIPOC families.

In order to move forward and accomplish the mandates listed above, we have created a Justice Task Force. The JTF will identify and implement the changes needed within KAY. The JTF consists of seasoned and new team leaders committed to serving to create an anti-racist culture within our organization.

We will be adding tasks to the list, as we grow and evolve in our understanding of what needs to be done. We hope you will join us in doing this work in your own lives.

We are open to feedback, but we understand that it is no one’s job but ours to look, to learn, to digest, and to take action. We stand by our commitment to become an anti-racist organization whose work uplifts, supports and learns from Black wisdom and leadership.

Please email info@kiddingaroundyoga.com if you wish to reach out to us in regard to this statement, whether it’s feedback, an offer to join our efforts, or you want to be kept up to date with these promises. 

Namaste,

Kidding Around Yoga

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