We’ve had lots of fun at the IYK® Back-to-School ?Yoga Challenge! Here are highlights from Day 4 and what we covered for all 5 days.

Day 1: Establish your High ? Habits for successful skill sets

Day 2: Set your Superpower ⭐️ Schedule so your days are smooth

Day 3: Create your Playful ??‍♀️ Movement Plan to shift energy (up or down)

Day 4: Map your Peaceful ☮️ Mindset to feel happy and free

Day 5: Make some ✨Magic ✨ just for FUN!

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Yoga for Kids Calming Nerves

Back-to-School is an exciting and often nerve-wracking time for families. Anticipation mixed with nerves flows between kids and parents - often equally. It can be a cycle of comforting combined with crying - including tears of joy - for all parties involved.

After the fun part of back-to-school shopping, each year the step up is filled with unknowns. New friends, new teachers, new rules, new challenges - not to mention new work with lots of paperwork for parents. Covid has taken the norm of health and stepped it up to a whole new level. Regardless of the mixed experiences of education during the pandemic, this year is unprecedented. Additionally, for many kids who missed a whole year of socializing, the intensity of re-integrating is another layer previously known. How do we support our kids through these important milestones and unknowns, and is it possible to do with confidence, resilience and joy?

I think so. Yoga has shown me the way. I did not have yoga growing up. I wish I had. For the 1200 or so instructors I’ve certified, the number one reason they say they want to teach yoga to kids is because they wish they had yoga when they were kids - and it’s not for the pose on the mat, it’s what they learned in yoga that applied to everyday life. This is the first generation of teachers I’ve trained where some of them had yoga as teenagers, and they acknowledge the world of difference it made. 

Yoga can help in few ways:

  1. Calming nerves. Breathing is the fastest way to calm the nervous system. Hugs also work. Hugs at home are going to matter now that hugs at school are not allowed. When you combine breathing with hugging it co-regulates both nervous systems. That’s a win-win!
  2. Moving energy. Feelings have energy. When worried feelings arrive. Feel them vs. pushing them away. Listen to one another fully and then decide what you want to do with it. For all ages, yoga poses help us burn through worries to a safer place within ourselves.
  3. Mindset matters. The math of moods are like = like. If you are in a bad mood, usually bad things happen. If you are in a good mood, usually good things happen. Our minds can play tricks on us. Recycling thoughts from negative to positive can change our experience.

Yoga requires us to practice these life skills. No matter your level of excitement or worry as we come into this uncharted new school year, I hope you will discover ways to being yoga to life everyday. It’s the easy and fun way for family wellness. If you’re curious, join me for the FREE IYK® 5-Day Back-to-School Yoga Challenge starting August 11, 2021 to practice your High 5 Habits for school this year.

Kids Yoga and Mental Health

I’ve always loved research. It’s been a way for me to link the health benefits of yoga to unknowing or doubting parents. One thing is certain over the last 16 years since I started It’s Yoga Kids, parents want the best for their kids. That will never change.

Historically, teenagers have been the most affected age for mental healthy concerns including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression and suicide. As a result of the pandemic, these concerns have scaled down to younger children and up to adult children. Here are couple of recent articles that piqued my interest regarding mental health for all ages.

8-Year-Olds in Despair: The Mental Health Crisis Is Getting Younger.

“The number of children who need urgent mental health care has been on the rise for years, and spiked during the pandemic. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that compared how often children came to emergency rooms in the United States for mental health reasons versus other types of concerns. The agency found that between April and October of 2020, there was a 24 percent increase in the proportion of mental health emergency department visits for kids ages 5 to 11 compared with the same period in 2019.”

How to Support Adult Children with Mental Health: Expert advice on how to gently offer help and compassion.

“The American Psychological Association’s 2020 Stress in America survey found that 34 percent of those 18 to 23 said their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic, a number higher than any other generation. Risa Garon, a licensed clinical social worker in Silver Spring, Md., and executive director of the National Family Resiliency Center, has seen in her practice that the pandemic has caused many young adults to lose “the rhythm of living,” she said.”

I was was struck by the term, “the rhythm of living.” In yoga, I learned a term from Larry Schultz, Founder of It’s Yoga. He would always say, “go with the flow.” While he taught that on the mat, it transferred to my life off the mat. Learning to go with the flow has been a mantra for my life. It’s helped me as a parent through pregnancy and raising my children. It’s helped through massive loss and recovery. It’s helped my family find confidence, resilience and joy. It's my "rhythm of living."

Yoga creates Freedom

What is freedom? Like success, I wonder if beyond the dictionary definition, it’s up to the beholder of how to define it. With recent events like Juneteenth, Pride and the 4th of July holidays, I’ve searched for how to define freedom.

Juneteenth - June 19 commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers enforced the Emancipation Proclamation and freed all remaining slaves in Texas. In 2021, it became the United States' newest federal holiday. Woohoo!

Pride definition of freedom is: Free to be - ME! Pride Month celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people—and the history, culture, and contributions of these people and their communities. Woohoo!

Independence Day, the Fourth (4th) of July is a public holiday in the United States of America that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared the original colonies to be free from British rule. Woohoo!

My teenagers defined freedom as the ability to “do as you please and be responsible for yourself.” Woohoo!

What do I mean when I talk about feeling happy and free in yoga? It's related to a second dictionary definition of freedom: The condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance. Would this include your own mind? I think so. How often does our mindset bind us?

This is why over 55 million people practice yoga and 37% of yoga enthusiasts have children who also enjoy practicing. Yoga creates freedom in the body (range of motion), mind (openness) and heart (compassion) by creating more space. Our life experiences are stored in the body. Yoga burns through the layers to release tension and trauma. Simply put, it frees you. If nothing else, it makes you feel lighter. Lightness creates more joy and happiness. Woohoo!

When I talk to parents about what they want for their kids they say, “I want my kids to be happy.” This is closely followed by "healthy" and "successful" as the top three wishes. Yoga is a path to lightness to help you feel happy and free. Yoga is for all ages, abilities, identities and colors. Yoga is for YOU!

Photo credit: Andrea McTamaney

Yoga Dads

Dads do yoga! This may be a surprise because mostly Moms do yoga. Women account for 72% of yoga practitioners and out number men 3 to 1. What brings Dads to yoga and keeps them coming back?

Moms. Most often, we see Dads because Mom is taking the morning off and she’s scheduled Dad to take the kids to Family Yoga. They arrive and wonder what they’ve gotten themselves into. Most of the time their expectations are low. Then, they’re surprised. Here’s what we’ve noticed when kids come to yoga with Dad.

Dads seem more relaxed about their kids (perceived) performance in yoga. Is it because there is no winner or loser in this activity? Is it because they don’t know what to expect so they just go with the flow? Either way, it works. Kids are free to be and Dad’s are too. The energy is often lighter and that makes it easier to take on challenges.

Dads appreciate yoga more than they expected. They recognize how inflexible they may be in their bodies and maybe in their minds too. For many, it’s their first time trying yoga. Coming with their kids shifts the intention to curiosity. IYK offers a balanced sequence of achievable and reachable postures so the experience is neither too easy nor too hard.

Dads like to play! The light-hearted nature of learning yoga poses from beginner to advanced equalizes the experience and offers an entry point for all levels. Everyone can find their body, mind and heart in yoga which makes it both educational and enjoyable.

Kids are delighted to share yoga with both mom and dad, and often extended family members join too. Teaching Family Yoga is so delightful! It’s a class that offers something for everyone. I’m often moved to laughter - and to tears - at the meaningful moments I’ve witnessed between family members. Happy Father’s Day, Dads!

Oh, and I just saw this: Why Online Yoga is a Must for Dads

Learn all sorts of useful tips about Yoga for Kids!