Yoga Brings Generations Together

Most all Jewish folks know the tune “Hava Nagila.” If you don’t remember the words, you’ll definitely remember the rhythm of the song. And if you’re not Jewish, you’ll catch on really, really quickly! Kidding Around Yoga made a delightful Yoga spin of this song: Yoga Nagila.

This song is a blast and you can use the recorded song or sing the words aloud. As you sing “Yo-ga Na-gi-la Yo-ga Na-gi-la” you hold hands and grapevine around in a circle. Music gets faster over the course of the song and at certain points will slow down for Chair Pose and for a silly time to wave our fingers in the air like a conductor would do. We have free dancing time, as well.

I love bringing this song in specifically when I teach multi-generation Yoga workshops. Last summer I taught Yoga at a “Grandparents and Grandchild” weekend in Wisconsin. Grandparents and grandkids of all ages came together for a weekend of fun while parents got to have a weekend alone! Doesn’t that sound glorious?

Beyond the song, I’m writ13093869055_66e534fccc_zing today really to share about the importance of multi-generational Yoga, regardless of culture and faith. When human beings of any age get time to move, stretch, sing, and groove together, they connect in a genuine way! Grandparents get to see grandkids learning new poses. Grandkids get to see grandparents moving in ways they might not have moved in awhile. Both the elder and the child are gifted with the opportunity to connect through being silly and meaningful. The experience is rewarding for all involved.

And of course, yoga is accessible to all bodies! Grandparents can sit on a mat, stand and clap, or sit on a chair and still be a part of the enjoyment and activity of the experience. By providing activities such as Yoga Nagila, grandparents have the previous knowledge of the song “Hava Nagila” and thus, feel like even if they can’t “bend into a pretzel” as they often say, they can still fully participate. The safe and friendly structure provided by a Yoga workshop welcomes old and young alike to “come as they are” with no need of being better, different, or more than they are.

Sometimes I see that it’s a challenge for grandkids to understand all the wisdom and magic their grandparents can share with them. Grandparents can offer big picture thinking that is such a gift to their little ones. Through integrated a17520796771_b87ef8769b_zctivities such as Yoga stories, the talking stick circle time, and partner poses, the workshop itself can be a method of revealing to grandkids the magic their grandparents hold. Grandkids, too, are invited to share their hearts so sweetly with grandparents during these times. And often at workshops like this grandkids feel supported and safe enough to share their own wise words; words that they often keep hidden when they are around peers.

Whether you are teaching to a multi-generational group of a certain faith or not, there are so many ways to welcome both the old and young! The first MUST is that all the activities you lead have got to be fun for all ages. So don’t just teach to the little ones (unless you plan on having the older folk simply sit and watch, which can be done. But trust me, it’s not as rewarding for you or fun for them). And don’t just teach to the older set (because you might assume they can do a lot less than they actually can!).

Another MUST is to lead a lot, a lot, of group or partner activities such as partner poses, partner or team Toe-ga (picking up pom poms with your toes), team Yoga stories, and of course invite grandkids to cuddle up next to their grandparents during Savasana at the end.

9616774180_f95cd0cdd0_zI invite you to ask the question of “What was one thing you learned from your grandparent/grandchild today during our workshop?” during the talking stick circle at the end. Think of how you would have liked to have fun with your grandparents! Think of how you’d like to have fun with your grandkids, if you have them! So much meaningful connection awaits you and your students, both young and old.


Kids’ Pranayama (with a Jewish Twist)

* Kidding Around Yoga teaches Yoga to children of all cultures, races, faiths and backgrounds. Yoga Yeladim is Kidding Around Yoga with a Jewish twist and provides Yoga methods for people who work with children in the Jewish community.16782577164_4ab6aee940_z*

Deep breathing exercises can have a profound effect on a child’s physical, emotional and spiritual health. One way we teach children to self-regulate in Yoga Yeladim is through deep breathing exercises, games and activities. Yogis call the practice of controlling the breath pranayama.


Try these fun and creative ways to reinforce breathing techniques with your little Yogi:

Pranayama Painting

  • food coloring
  • a straw for each child
  • piece of paper (we used finger paint or water color paper for best results)
  • painter’s tape
  1. Use painter’s tape to make a design on the paper. You can make a recognizable shape or a unique design. In Yoga Yeladim, we use popular Jewish symbols for this craft. Star of David, Menorah or a Chai are fun suggestions.
  2. Drop a few colors of liquid food coloring on a piece of paper (thicker paper works best).
  3. Take a straw & blow onto the colors to make different designs.
  4. When the artwork is dry, carefully remove the tape and admire your breath’s masterpiece!11071493_10206425667501378_1830967030222669918_o

Experiment with what happens when you use long / slow breaths and quick/ hard breaths. Does is change the design? Each picture is beautiful and unique. Pictures can be used for holiday cards, gift wrap and lovely art to display.

Raisins on the Challah

  • straws & paper plates for each child
  • ten pieces of black scrap paper each

The plate is the challah and the scraps are the raisins. Pick up a raisin by inhaling through the straw and placing it on the challah. If it falls, begin again. To add an extra challenge, use a time and make this game a race.

When teaching in a traditional children’s Yoga class, this game can be easily adapted for your specific needs. Some fun suggestions are: Raisins on the Cookie, Spots on the Lady Bug or Freckles on my Face.

Hebrew Aleph Bet Breathing 

(aleph and bet are the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet)

Lay in extended Child’s Pose. Inhale and come up to your knees, arms in the air, and say “Alef” as you exhale down into extended Child’s Pose again. Do it again for “Bet”, “Gimel”, “Dalet” etc.

Again, this breathing technique can be easily adapted for a traditional children’s Yoga class by changing what is said on “the exhale” to the letters or vowel sounds of any language. Use it to practice your child’s spelling and vocabulary lists. Make it a game by taking turns and listing items of a particular subject (ice cream flavors, mammals, countries, etc.)

Blow Your Shofar 15409984174_b5e0afb106_z

This is the Yoga Yeladim song for breathing. Make sure to encourage children to take deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouth. You can get as creative as you want by breaking out lots of props and fun instruments for your students to play with.

Before you start make sure to teach them the hand motions. Use traditional hand motions from “David Melech Yisrael”. Pretend to play all kinds of instruments, unless you actually have a bunch to hand out. Have fun.

Teaching a traditional children’s Yoga class? Check out the Kidding Around Yoga version of this song: Blow Your Horn Everyday.

There are many ways to teach children the benefits of Yoga and pranayama with a Jewish twist. Be creative and have lots of fun!!!!

Kids’ Yoga Grows Leaders

9737029006_88e255e2b5_zThis past summer I had the opportunity to teach sixty pre-teen girls and boys Yoga  two hours a day for one week. Camp is held on a university campus and so we met in the huge gym for a shoes-on, no mats adventure.  The first day was full of establishing norms, the kids getting to know me, and me getting to know them. Fortunately, I knew about fifteen of the kids already and I quickly picked up on which of the children were really excited and open to learning. Multiple times I shared with the group that there were going to be many ways of stepping up and being a helper and a leader during our time together.

The following day I brought four extra yoga mats with me and arranged them on both sides of my “X” (two mats in the center of the huge circle so that I could change orientations so all students could see my poses). The curious ones asked me why the extra mats, all the while knowing why! They were in for a treat. After our beginning of ShalOM’ing in (this is a Jewish Community Center camp!) we talked about how crazy our thoughts can get (I call it Koo Koo Head) and practiced a meditation to settle into our Yoga practice. We were then ready for a fun variation on Sun Salutations called Sargent Salutations. Almost everyone (which is sometimes what you get with pre-teens….!) stood in attention in Mountain Pose.

One of my many tricks for getting kids’ attention is “Show me your best Mountain Pose!” It’s straight-forward enough for every single child to come into it quickly and it’s great to offer simple feedback such as “feet together,” “relax your shoulders,” “look out above the horizon.” And, of course, Mountain Pose reminds and teaches the body, mind, and heart of grounding, stability, and strength, which everyone needs!
While in their best Mountain Poses, I invited four of the kids with their eyes looking at and their ears listening to me to the four extra mats in the middle. Many in the circle started to get what was happening. I was choosing specific children based not just on how they were executing the pose, but also how they were respecting me and each other. We then practiced Sargent Salutations all together, with the four leaders in the middle of the circle guiding the way. From there on out, I asked for their best Mountain Poses and chose more children to enter into the middle of the circle to practice their leadership.

Things got exciting when one of the children I asked to come into the center of the circle started making fun of another child and his experience with yoga. I say “exciting” because these are the best teachable moments to really hit a lesson home!

I allowed the group to take a short water and bathroom break and I asked the pre-teen (Jacob*)  who was made fun of and the one who I had chosen as a leader (Clara*) to stay back. I asked Clara if she thought she was ready to be in the center of the circle and lead the other children. “What do you mean?” she asked. “Well, how do good leaders treat the people who are following?”I guided.
“They are nice, listen, and share with everyone. They help and care about the people,” she responded.
“Yes, you got it. So are you ready to be in the center of the circle?” I asked again.
“I didn’t mean to be mean. But sorry for saying that. I know you haven’t been doing yoga as long as me.” She said to Jacob with a genuineness of a great young yogini.
“Do I not get a turn in the middle?” she asked me with tears starting to well up.
I said, “You definitely get to be in the middle leading now! All leaders make mistakes. The best leaders admit their mistakes, learn from them, and then become even better leaders.”
“But you never make mistakes,” she retorted with a bit of a smirk. She got me, or so she thought.
“Oh, I have made plenty of mistakes and will keep making more. But I do my best to apologize, learn from the mistakes and not make the same ones twice,” I honestly replied.

9618698916_ce40b94738_zEveryone was back from getting water and going to the bathroom. “Everybody show me your best Mountain Pose, please!” I shouted. “Clara and Jacob,  what did you learn about being a leader today?”

“Leaders make mistakes and learn from them.” Clara shouted back. “That’s what makes them better at yoga and being a leader,” Jacob added.

Jacob had been listening to the conversation just as much as Clara had. Yeah, his yoga practice wasn’t “as good” as Clara’s because he hadn’t practiced as long. He didn’t have a mom like Clara’s who practiced Yoga at home with her. But Jacob saw his path for growing as a young yogi: trying something new, taking a risk, and maybe making a mistake or two would all help him with his Yoga practice. Clara’s teasing didn’t deter him. If anything, since Clara did make fun, he was brought into an important dialogue  to learn what it means to be a leader and that we all make mistakes. It’s whether we learn from them or not that makes all the difference.
*Clara and Jacob are not the real names of the two pre-teens involved in this dialogue.

Happy New Year to Trees!

The Jewish holiday Tu B’Shevat (pronounced: too b’ shvat) will be observed this year at sundown February 3rd through sundown February 4th, 2015 (the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat). Tu B’Shevat is known as the New Year for Trees and celebrates rebirth, renewal and gratitude for the many gifts trees give us.

Some people celebrate Tu B’Shevat by planting trees and/or having a traditional meal, called a “Seder.” Tu B’Shevat Seders often include eating a variety of fruits and nuts grown in Israel, while telling stories and reciting blessings that honor the many gifts trees give us.

The following are some fun and meaningful ways to include Tu B’Shevat in your kids yoga classes:


Kidding Around Yoga

Jewish Folk Music


  • Water, Water, Grow!  (duck, duck, goose)
    Using a watering pitcher (like Duck Duck Goose) water, water, GROW & then the kids would choose what to grow into: Tree! Flower! Butterfly!
  • Red Light, Green Light, Tree
    Like the traditional game “Red Light, Green Light” with a yoga twist.  Let the leader of each round call red light, green light or “POSE”.  They can choose their own balance poses (tree, eagle, dancer). The “it” person stands in front of the room and says, “My pose is the tree.” And then they start with the traditional “red light” for stop or “green light” for go. If someone moves on red light or pose, just have them go back a little bit :-)


  • Plow: Before we can plant our seeds, we have to PLOW the field
  • Tree: Happy Birthday Trees! What kind of TREE are you? Apple? Almond? AWESOME!
  • Hero:  I am a Tu B’Shevat HERO! I take care of the trees and the Earth!
  • Partner Tree Pose:  Have everyone stand in TREE, hands touching.  For fun, have someone try to “blow the trees down”. Don’t forget to inhale through your nose!


  • Walking meditation: focus on the details of trees (size, color, texture, scent…)

Raja Yoga/ Closing Circle Questions:

  • Have a discussion about the amazing gifts trees give us:
    shelter, oxygen, fruit, shade, beauty….
    How can we show our gratitude? What birthday gifts can we give trees to help them stay strong for years to come?  What are ways we can protect trees by taking care of the environment?
  • How are people like trees?  What do we need to have strong fulfilling lives?
    Strong Roots. Love & Light.

Om Work

  • Ask yogis to find ways to recycle and conserve around their house and share experiences at the next class.

Special Snack:

Bring a special Tu B’shevat snack to enjoy after class.  (Be careful with nuts & allergies.)  Some suggestions are:

  • apricots
  • dried apples
  • raisins
  • carob

Enjoy celebrating Tu B’Shevat with your yogis!  For more Omazing ways to include Jewish traditions in your yoga class, check out Online Yoga Yeladim (OYY)!!

Chanukah 101

The Story

The story of Chanukah celebrates the Jewish people and honors their struggle to restore the ancient Temple of Jerusalem.  During this time, Judea was ruled by the Syrian King Antiochus.  He declared that all Jews must worship Greek gods.  The Jews were outraged and would not abandon their *G-d and decided to defend their beliefs.

A man named Judah Maccabee gathered a group of people together to fight the King.  This group grew quickly and soon they had an army.  For three years they fought the Syrians and one control of Judea.

When the battle was over, there was a lot of work to do.  They replaced all Greek symbols with Jewish symbols and restored the Temple of Jerusalem.  On the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, the Temple was completed.  To celebrate their victory and the restoration of the Temple, Judah and his people lit an oil lamp.  Although they only had a small amount of oil for one day, the lamp burned for eight days.

Today, Jews around the world celebrate eight nights of Chanukah beginning on the 25th day of Kislev (the days vary in Western calendars).   To honor the miracle of this incredible event, Jews around the world celebrate Chanukah, calling it the “Festival of Lights.”

The Party

Light the Menorah:   A menorah with 9 branches for candles (technically, it’s called a “chanukkia“).   Eight of the branches represent each night of Chanukah, and the last branch (different height of the others) is the “shamash” or helper candle.   At sundown, the shamash is lit and then is used to light a candle for each night.  By the eighth night, all candles shine beautifully.

Exchange Gifts:  Modern Chanukah is often celebrated by exchanging gifts with family and friends.  Sometimes, small gifts of money, called gelt, are given to children.  Chocolate coins are also given during the holiday.

Eat Food Fried in Oil:  To celebrate the oil lasting eight nights, we cook food fried in oil.  The most popular Chanukah treat is potato latkes (shredded potatoes and onions fried in oil). Latkes are typically served with apple sauce and/or sour cream.   Another delicious Chanukah treat are jelly donuts (also called Sufganiyot) that are also fried in oil.

Play the Dreidel Game:  A four sided top called a dreidel (or sivivon) is used to play a game with small candies or nuts.  Players get an equal amount of candies and some are placed into a “pot” in the center.   Players take turns spinning the dreidel and depending on what side it falls on, follow the directions. 

Tikkun Olam:  Tikkun Olam means “Repairing the World” in Hebrew.   Chanukah is a wonderful time to discuss standing up for what you believe in and being grateful for what you have.   Giving time, money and service to those less fortunate is a lovely way to honor the miracle of Chanukah.

From our family to yours, Happy Chanukah!

* There is a custom among some Jews to substitute the word “God” with “G-d” when writing in English.  Jewish law states that in order to give the Hebrew word for “God” the highest respect and reverence,  it can never be erased or destroyed when presented in printed form.   Although there is no Jewish law that prevents erasing or destroying the word “God” when written in English, many American Jews use “G-d” in order to erase or dispose of printed materials without showing disrespect.  

Shana Yoga Tova!  Happy Yoga New Year!

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and there are many wonderful ways to include holiday traditions in your children’s yoga practice.

Most Jewish holidays include rituals and traditional food. Children enjoy eating challah (braided egg bread), drinking grape juice, and lighting holiday candles with their family. On Rosh Hashanah, we eat round challah. The round shape symbolizes the circle of life. We also dip apples in honey to represent a sweet new year.

The following are ways to wish families and friends Rosh Hashanah greetings:

  • Shanah Tovah is Hebrew for “Happy New Year.”
  • L’shanah tovah tikateyvu v’tichatemu is a Hebrew blessing meaning “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
  • Yiddish Gut Yuntoff (“Good Holiday”) or Gut Yor!(“A Good Year”)

There are many fun ways to include learning about Rosh Hashana in your yoga class. Here are a few fun ideas to try:

Rosh Hashana Story

Let’s prepare for Rosh Hashana by making our holiday challah (sit up straight with your feet touching to make a bowl). What ingredients do we need?? (Reach up high to grab the ingredients that the kids shout out.)  Hmmmm, let’s stir our dough (make big circles with your upper body making sure to really stretch and lean back. Remind yogis to make their tummy tight when they lean back). Our dough is looking good!  What else do we need?? (Repeat reaching up & stirring.)

This looks good.  Let’s pound out our dough (lean forward & pat your legs).  Now it’s time to make our CHALLAH ROUND (sit in “cow face” and wrap your arms around your knees). What else should we put on our TABLE? CANDLES! Yes! Great idea!  How about some beautiful FLOWERS? What other Rosh Hashanah treats should we have? Honey? Great Idea! Let’s do some BUMBLE BEE BREATHING and make our honey. Now we need some apples to dip in our honey for a sweet new year. Let’s go outside to the apple TREE and pick some!  Shana Tova!

Rosh Hashanah Music (Yoga Yeladim CD)

  • [mp3j track=”″ title=”Blow Your Shofar”]
  • [mp3j track=”″ title=”Yoga Nagila”]
  • [mp3j track=”″ title=”Shalom Alechem Dreams”]

Secret Garden

In my Rosh Hashana class, I did a traditional Kidding Around Yoga Secret Garden. Before it was time to sit up, I asked the yogis to think about a special wish they had for this upcoming new year. Instead of sharing our wish during our closing circle, I asked them to hold it in their hearts.

Enjoy experiencing pieces of Rosh Hashanah with your yogis.

Shana Yoga Tova!