ZEN ZOO KIDS

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The Benefits Of Yoga For Children

The following are just some of the recognized benefits of yoga for children:

Body:

  • Assists neuromuscular-development
  • Promotes development of the vestibular system
  • Encourages midline crossing motions; motor development on both sides of the body
  • Develops a strong and flexible body
  • Increases balance, body awareness and coordination
  • Improves posture and alignment
  • Develops core strength, essential for good posture and correct physical alignment
  •  Reduces injuries and improves performance
  • Improves digestion, circulation and elimination
  • Strengthens the immune system
  •  Relaxes the body, promoting better sleep

Mind:

  • Calms and clears the mind, bringing us into the present moment
  • Relieves tension and stress
  • Increases concentration, focus and attention span
  • Promotes thinking and memory
  • Stimulates auditory processing and responsiveness
  • Expands imagination and creativity
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves ability to be less reactive; more mindful of thoughts, words and actions
  • Balances energy (high or low)

Spirit:

  • Builds confidence and self-esteem
  • Supports character development and emotional intelligence
  • Enhances team skills and social interaction
  • Develops discipline and self-control
  • Supports individuality and self-expression
  • Encourages social and environmental awareness and responsibility
  • Supports childs individual spiritual beliefs
  • Inspires respect for self and others

Overall:

  • Improves mind/body connection
  • Encourages a fit and healthy lifestyle
  • Promotes an overall sense of well-being

Yoga helps children see the beauty and light within themselves, thereby boosting their self-confidence, allowing them to feel more comfortable with their bodies, and helping them get in touch with who they are inside. A child who learns yoga, mindfulness and relaxation will be developing essential skills for a lifetime of health and wellness in mind, body and spirit.

Benefits of Yoga in the School Setting

Anti-bullying, health and wellness, and character education are common themes in schools today, all focusing on educating the whole child, mind, body and spirit. Yoga, by nature, supports this learning.

The following are some of the benefits of yoga to support the education of the whole child, thus maximizing the learning process:

  • Provides students healthy ways to express and balance their emotions
  • Promotes a more relaxed, comfortable state of being – the perfect state for teaching and learning
  • Brings students into the present moment – the most basic requirement for learning
  • Encourages community and connectedness within the classroom
  • Helps to create an atmosphere of confidence, enthusiasm and non-competitiveness where everyone can succeed
  • Provides opportunities for beneficial motor breaks throughout the day
  • Eases anxiety and tension (such as pre-test or performance jitters)
  • Enhances focus, concentration, comprehension and memory
  • Provides opportunities for reflection, patience and insight, reducing impulsivity and reactivity
  • Supports social and emotional learning
  • Improves listening skills
  • Wakes up sluggish minds and creativity as needed
  • Enhances organizational and communication skills
  • Improves posture, assisting students to sit comfortably for long periods
  • Enhances motor skills and balance
  • Improves mind/body awareness and connection
  • Improves confidence and self-esteem
  • Encourages respect for oneself and others
  • Creates a calm, harmonious classroom

 

Yoga quote

You Always Get What You Focus On

“Your success depends mainly upon what you think of yourself and whether you believe in yourself.”   William Boetcker

Are you the type of person who thinks you are “lucky” when something good happens to you?  Do you say “why does it always happen to me?” when something bad happens?

We are all guilty, at some time or another, of forgetting the power that focus and belief can play in our lives. No matter what we focus on or believe in, be it good or bad, it will eventually come into our lives.

The thing is… you always get what you focus on. By continuing to focus on what you want, it will slowly begin to manifest itself into reality. Now this is brilliant news in my opinion!  We have the ability to convert a thought into something real through focus and belief!

Some people do not even realize that they are focusing on negative stuff – things that keep them down. They may say “I could never do that, I’m this or that…” or “I never seem to catch a break!”  The unfortunate truth is that if you continue to say and believe this kind of negative thinking, exactly what you fear and don’t want will come to pass. On the other hand, if you visualize, believe and focus on becoming better, getting healthier, becoming successful or whatever else your heart desires, it will become a reality. As long as you believe in your goal, and know that it is truly what you want, it will happen.

But remember it takes time! There are no quick fixes in life – none that are very effective that is. Too many people search for the “quick fix” and usually end up worse off.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he will achieve.”   Napoleon Hill

When you make the decision to conceive, believe and achieve, always bear in mind that it takes time and effort to build your self-confidence and self-belief, trust your abilities and develop a belief system that works.

What factors will most influence whether you successfully create your reality?

♦How much you desire the end result    ♦The information you choose to learn and process

♦The actions you take to achieve your end result    ♦How much you love, trust and believe in, yourself

Now that you know you are indeed the captain of your fate, I urge you to begin believing, REALLY believing, both in your dreams and in yourself!

“Believe in yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Have faith in your own abilities, work hard and there is nothing you cannot accomplish.”   Brad Henry

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To Be (Positive) Or Not To Be?

The idea of  “planting seeds” is an excellent analogy for focusing on the positives in your life and establishing the practice of daily positive affirmations…

Planting a whole garden can seem daunting and full of anxiety in itself, but all you have to do is start by planting one seed. And keep adding another one here and there. Take care of those seeds, and before you know it, a green little shoot will appear and continue to grow and flourish.

Or, in real life, your business will become successful or you will start seeing improvements in your relationship for example. Nothing is more exciting than seeing your seed turn into something that blooms.

If you are new to planting seeds in your own life, here are a few tips:

1. Seeds take time to grow…

A whole garden isn’t created over night, and neither is a dream life. Affirmations need to be nurtured and watered regularly. By focusing on the positives, and seeing the little shoots that start to peek out from the earth in the form of something new, we can start to see the progress we are making in our journey to start living the life we’ve always wanted.

2. Seeds must change to grow…

A seed can’t stay a seed forever. When cared for with nourishing soil, rays of sunlight, and water, they change shape and start to become whatever it is they were meant to be.

To really experience positive change, you too, must let go of your past and embrace the transformation that’s about to take place. Have confidence knowing you will take on a better form, even if it takes time.

3. When a seed flowers, everyone recognizes its’ beauty…

After a seed undergoes a transformation and takes on a new form, everyone appreciates it for whatever it has to offer, whether it’s a beaming sunflower or a crisp carrot.

Each seed has something new, something more to contribute. And how did it get to this point? With time and a transformative change.

Go out there and start planting seeds in your life, no matter how hard or pointless it may seem right now.

With a little time, patience and hard work, what now seems like an empty garden patch will be filled with beauty and growth.

Just like a beautiful flower attracts butterflies, your life will be a magnet to the right kind of people that will truly make it one worth living.

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BULLYING – Can Yoga Help Children?

Bullying has been around for centuries, in some or other form, but it would appear to be an increasing problem.  It is not something we can glibly explain away or resolve overnight.  We cannot always remove our child from the environment or situation and as parents, we can feel extremely helpless.  Bullying is painful for the victims and self defeating for the bully with the parents of both suffering along with their children.

With this in mind, the power of yoga and the accompanying techniques and exercises has been proven to be an invaluable aid to bullies and their victims.

Relaxation strategies and anger management techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, positive self talk and visualisations have been shown to be extremely effective treatment components for reducing stress and tension in children and young people.

It is used to help bring peace and calm to children as well as provide anger management techniques tools for future outbreaks.  Kids yoga can also help promote empathetic skills and a positive expression of feelings. It helps children feel their own power and helps give them the power to improve their behaviour.  These strategies aim to develop peace and calm as children are introduced to relaxation exercises and techniques.

Helping a child who continues to bully, deal with their emotions, anger and aggression is vital. Encouraging children to develop empathy skills is also important as is it helps a child recognize that they are a good person, deep down inside. Relaxation can play an important part in this process as children spend time thinking about their behaviour and connecting with their goodness and strengths.

We as adults must say NO to bullying and lead by example in both not being bullies ourselves and not allowing bullies to intimidate us.  Your child will follow your lead, either way.

Try reading the following relaxation exercise aloud to your child…

                   Close your eyes and become as still as possible. Become aware of your breathing.

Feel the softness of your breath going in and coming out again.

Spend a few moments watching your breathing. Listen to the sound of your breathing.

With each breath, feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed.

Breathe in, breathe out breathe in breathe out. Feel yourself becoming peaceful and relaxed.

Imagine there is a light going up from the base of your spine to the top of your head.

As you become aware of this light, you feel yourself growing taller and taller.

As you feel yourself growing taller, you start to feel more confident and self assured.

You feel strong and brave. Repeat to yourself, I am strong and brave and in control.

I am strong and brave and in control. I am strong and brave and in control.

Imagine that you are wearing an invisible cloak. This cloak is surrounding you and protecting you from any harm. If ever anyone says something unkind, then any negative or hurtful word just bounces off the cloak.

       Imagine for a moment, some unkind bullies saying some nasty words . Watch and feel as the words bounce off the cloak. Spend a moment watching as the words just bounce off the cloak.

Notice how strong you feel as you are left unhurt and unharmed by their nastiness.

  You might even like to imagine there is a glass wall between you and the bullies and they can not touch you.

                    Imagine you feeling so confident that you can stand up for yourself and say NO to the bullies. Imagine the feeling you get when you show that you are not hurt by their taunts and their words.

 Imagine how great you feel when you know that you are in control.

Spend a few moments seeing yourself standing tall, surrounded in a cloak

 and saying NO to the bullies.

Repeat to yourself in your mind.
“I am strong, I am brave and I am in control.

I am strong, I am brave and I am in control.

I am strong I am brave and I am in control.”

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The Love Equation

Think of the people you know who give love in response to negative energy that’s directed their way.

There aren’t many people who respond lovingly in that situation. The ones who do are able to because they have love to give away. They know that it’s impossible to give away what they don’t have, and they’ve gone that extra mile to acquire what it is that they want to both attract and give away.

If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, then begin by taking stock.

What have you got to give away?

What are you giving out to the universe, and thus, what are you attracting?

Remember that you can’t give away what you don’t have, but you can change your life by changing what’s going on inside.

Low energy attracts low energy. Low energy thoughts, such as anger, hate, shame, guilt, and fear, weaken you. And they attract more of the same

By changing your inner thoughts to the higher frequencies of love, harmony, kindness, peace, and joy, you’ll attract more of the same, and you’ll have those higher energies to give away.

To begin to change what’s inside you, become more loving toward yourself.

In your thoughts, cultivate an inner voice and attitude that’s 100 percent on your team.

Imagine an inner self that only supports and loves you. You might schedule a certain time of day when that’s the only thought that you allow yourself to pay attention to.

Gradually this loving attitude will extend to other people. You’ll begin to receive this energy back and ultimately be able to send thoughts of love and joy to everyone and everything in your world.

Make a pact to remind yourself often of this secret of not being able to give away anything that you don’t have. Then work on your personal program of self-love, self-respect, and self-empowerment, and create a huge inventory of what you wish to give away.

If what you give is self-respect and self-love, the universe will return the love and respect you’ve been radiating. It’s really so simple.

As the Beatles said:  “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”

 Yoga adds years to your life quote

A. D. H. D. & Yoga

Pairing a hyperactive child with a quiet, slow form of exercise may sound counterintuitive and even disastrous, but it turns out yoga can be incredibly helpful for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a behavioural disorder formally defined as a significant deficiency in age-appropriate attention, impulse control and rule-governed behaviour, which manifests in early childhood. Associated behaviours include: hyperactivity; speaking or acting before one thinks; difficulty in following instructions; poor organizational skills; restlessness; impatience; forgetfulness; low self-esteem; and poor social skills. Children with ADHD find it difficult to slow down, even when they want to; often they are so hurried that they seem clumsy and unco-ordinated.

Some experts believe that ADHD is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, but there is no documented proof that this is actually the case. The incidence of ADHD varies from 3 to 15 percent for school age population, depending on the strictness of the diagnosis. Sometimes referred to as ADD/WH or “minimal brain dysfunction,” children with ADHD generally do not perform well in school, though most of them test at average or above average intelligence. Worldwide, millions of children have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

Yoga uses physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama) and deep relaxation techniques to calm and strengthen the central nervous system. It helps children and teenagers with ADHD get in touch with their bodies in a relaxed and non-competitive way. There is also a spiritual side to Yoga that grounds its practitioners in their own silence  and internal awareness – something that is becoming increasingly difficult to experience with the frenzied pace of life today.

Yoga has been proven as a complementary treatment for boys with ADHD who already stabilized on medication, particularly for its evening effect when medication effects are absent. Children with ADHD often experience learning delays due to their hyperactivity and distractibility. Yoga teachers introduce breathing and a few postures to these children before attempting to teach them an entire Yoga routine. This will help them to calm down enough to follow instructions. Teaching these children proper respiration is an important aspect of their Yoga training and breathing exercises are extremely beneficial. If your child has ADHD, consider taking them to a yoga class and see the results for yourself. You may be very pleasantly surprised!

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                                    Savour Some Solitude                                             

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”  ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Here’s a question… when last, if indeed ever, have you gone to watch a movie on your own or had a cup of coffee by yourself in a bustling coffee shop? Do you enjoy being alone?

Stats show that only 20% of people enjoy their own company and don’t experience being alone as negative. The fear of being alone  prompts people to seek out noise and crowds of people. Today’s technology makes it easy for us to hardly ever be confronted with silence. Our diaries reflect this too, with every possible time slot in every possible working day booked, sometimes months ahead.

Ironically, what we need in our overstimulated lives is time alone. Time to get away from the din of the crowds, time to be still and recalibrate. We have to get away from people at times so that we can really be there for people  when  we are among them. But how do you find the time to just be? To experience inner calm, to make becoming still part of your daily existence?

We have to find time in our busy days to use to our advantage. We must make time to be still, to connect to our true selves either through quiet contemplation, prayer or meditation.

Seize time every day! It could be the blissful quiet moments before the house wakes up, the snail pace journey to work in peak traffic, sitting in the dentist’s waiting room or appreciating your flowers in your garden…

It is this one-to-one conversation with ourselves that makes us aware and reminds us to listen better and live better.

“We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly… spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.”  ~Susan L. Taylor

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Finding Serenity Amid The Chaos

I am sure I am not alone when I say that parenting is quite possibly the toughest job in the world.  Okay,

maybe not as tough as a forest logger, oil well driller or skyscraper window cleaner, but it’s way up there!

The daily pressures of family life can consume our peace of mind as easily as they consume our energy.

How can we find serenity amid the chaos and hold onto it for more than a fleeting moment? Here are

some strategies you may find helpful…

Rise Early – Wake up 15 to 20 minutes before your children and take a little retreat.  Do a yoga stretch, read something spiritual, and ask yourself, ‘How can I have a more balanced day today?’  Or simply lie in bed and breathe deeply for a few minutes.

Unplug – The average home is a noisy place, thanks to the telephone, television, radio and CD player.  When you’re feeling overloaded, try turning down the background noise in your life by “unplugging” some of these electronic taskmasters.

Start Small – You’re tired and just don’t feel like making dinner, but you don’t want to serve fish fingers again. So set a new, much smaller goal: “I will go in the kitchen and make a sandwich,” or even, “I will go into the kitchen.” Such steps may seem ludicrously small, but these “micro-actions” help us to approach seemingly overwhelming tasks.

Be Here Now – Like the child worrying about the exams, our minds constantly bring future worries into the present.  The best way to avoid stress is to immerse yourself in the moment and avoid the trap of comparing notes with other parents about how busy you are.

Adapt – Do you fall apart if dinner is not gourmet quality and served at six o’clock sharp?  Ease up a bit on the expectations!  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Tell yourself that the world will not stop turning if you break routine or run a little late.  Things do not have to go exactly as you planned.

Talk It Out – “Self-talk” can help us control our emotions. When things go wrong, it’s not a disaster, it’s an inconvenience.  By developing an inner voice that, for example, encourages you to stay in bed when you’re sick and lets your husband clean up the kitchen, you become, in a sense, your own best friend.

Laugh a Little – Laughter re-enchants daily living.  A sense of humour really eases the little annoyances we experience every day. Research shows that we experience about 30 “heart hassles” every day, stressing the heart both figuratively and physiologically. Laughter is a healing remedy for life!

Take a Break – Let’s face it: We’re never going to finish everything on our “to do” lists. In fact, studies have shown that the average mother runs 21 minutes short per day. Usually, the first thing to go is relaxation time. You will never have any downtime unless you schedule it.  You should do something to relax daily.

Enjoy Nature – Sun, water, wind… the elements feed our senses and lead us toward serenity better than anything. It may mean relaxing in your backyard, drawing a warm bath, or going out for a brisk run. The important thing is to figure out what soothes you and then where to find it.

Just Let Go – We have to recognize that chaos is a part of life.  Then we must recognize our own contribution to it. That’s the only part we can control.  The irony is that by taking steps that seem to signify giving up control, like “outsourcing” certain household jobs, you will actually be gaining more freedom to enjoy your family life.

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Bringing Relaxation Into Your Home

There are a number of ways you can introduce relaxation into your home.

Introducing a routine of relaxation will bring a wealth of benefits for you and your child.  Here are some ideas to get you inspired!

Before School:

This is often one of the most stressful times in the day.  If you could introduce just 2 mins relaxation, it will help set your child on the right track, for a relaxed and positive day.

1.As your child is waking put on a relaxing CD and allow them to have a few moments relaxation before they rise.
2. Find time to sit together as a family for 3 mins on the sofa and share a quick relaxation together.  This will help your child feel safe and secure.
3. You may like to focus on an affirmation and share a positive thought for the day.  This would take less than a minute and is very unifying.
4. Children could listen to a CD on their headphones on the way to school in the car.
5. Practice breathing exercises together.  Take in a deep breath into the tummy and breathe out slowly.  This is a simple exercise and can be done on the way to school, in the car or while walking.

At Bedtime:

1. Ask your child to lie on their back with their arms by their side and feet and ankles relaxed.

2. Play a relaxing, soothing  CD at a comfortable volume

3. Read a meditation/relaxation script while music plays.

4. Gently resist the urge to be drawn into conversation while reading the script.

5. Be patient – there may be giggles and fidgets and talking.  This is normal as it is a new experience.

6. When the script is completed, let the music continue if you find that your child is comfortable and relaxed.

7. When they are ready, they will naturally move to their favourite sleeping position and drift off to sleep.

8. It is a good idea to start on a different track each night.

Weekly Family Chill Night:

You may like to dedicate one evening a week to relaxation.  Make it a regular event at the same time each week where the whole family is free to come together and enjoy a TV free hour of quality time and relaxation.

1. You could listen to  a relaxing  cd together, taking it in turns to give each other a shoulder rub, or hand/foot/head massage.

2. Practice some breathing exercises together.

3. Discuss each others qualities, specialities, successes and strengths

4. Make a list of all the things you love doing together and plan outings.

5. Children and parents may like to draw what they see during the meditations with lots of colourful crayons and pencils.

6. It goes without saying that hugs and kisses are very much a part of the weekly chill night!

With a little effort, you will soon see the benefits and changes that are inevitable once you and your family have created a home and a space where relaxation is second nature.

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.” ~Mother Teresa

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Changing the world – one kind act at a time

The concepts of paying it forward, performing random acts of kindness and doing unto others as you want done unto you are ones I hold very dear and are, I believe, the path to changing our world for the better.

This short but brilliant video never fails to move me.  It illustrates the point beautifully ♥

http://youtu.be.be/PT-HBI2TVtl

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Saying Yes To Your Life

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is  to try to please everyone.”  Bill Cosby

Sometimes you just don’t want to do something or it’s not for you. Maybe you have the time but you’d rather spend it relaxing with your family or focusing on your self care. There’s nothing wrong or selfish about that!

When you say YES to others, make sure you are not saying NO to yourself. To be of better service to others and the world, we have to take care of ourselves first. Learn to say no so you can say yes to your life!

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Self love

You must first learn to love yourself for who you are, with all your flaws and imperfections, without being egotistical, boastful or arrogant , before you can truly live your life to its absolute fullest.

Self love is about self awareness of who you really are, connecting with and believing in yourself. It’s not judging yourself, worrying about what others think of you, or seeking their approval. It’s about self-worth and self-respect, accepting yourself for who you are today, at this very moment, not at some later date when you feel you may acquire some better qualities. It opens you up to loving others as they are.

True self love is having the  innate confidence to truly believe you are worthy of accomplishing anything you put your mind to, as well as being loved for being you ,and being unaffected by negative people…

For a daily dose of inspiration and positive energy, join the Zen Zoo Kids community on www.facebook.com/zenzookids

 

Yoga is the journey quote

Yoga’s Ten Principles

Yoga is a complex integrated system, which has a history of more than 5,000 years. Beginners can be easily overwhelmed by the vastness of the yoga practice, it’s philosophy, and it’s literature. Here are a few key principles that will help you understand better the numerous aspects of Yoga.

Ten Key Fundamental Principles

1. Yoga is what is traditionally called a liberation teaching. It guides us to free ourselves from our historical limitations of who and what we were to become something greater and better.

2.  To truly learn and understand Yoga, you should be instructed if possible by a teacher, whether in a class or even on a dvd. This is essential for ultimate success in Yoga. It is possible however, to benefit from a yogic practice without instruction as any form of yoga is better than none at all.

3.  Because everybody has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, Yoga has various styles that have been developed over time.

4.  Yoga is a journey of theory and practice. In order to engage Yoga properly and successfully, one must pay attention to the ideas behind its practical disciplines and to the exercises and techniques encompassing its theories. This calls for thoughtful and mindful practice. For instance, regular and correct practice of the yogic postures will definitely help us maintain good physical health.

5.  All forms of Yoga have as their foundation of a sound moral life, there are basic laws. They stand for moral virtues like nonviolence, truthfulness, and abstention from theft, compassion and kindness. Basically you could say it’s about living a positive life. Without a firm grounding in these moral principles, Yoga cannot lead us to its ultimate goal of liberation.

6.  However simple a particular yogic approach may be, all approaches require a huge commitment. If we fear change and cling to our old habits, we cannot succeed in Yoga. The practice of Yoga calls for considerable personal effort, which involves self-discipline.

7.  Yoga is made up of a lot of practice, both physical and mental. These can be broken down into two major categories:
The first is the repeated performance of exercises or techniques that are intended to produce a positive state of mind in us.
The second is the complementary practice of letting go of old behaviour patterns, habits or attachments that hold us back

8.  Focus is the key to making improvements with yoga. With focus comes control and power. The power in question is the energy of consciousness itself.

9.  Get back to basics, the more we untangle our lives the better our life will become.

10.  Yoga is a progressive process of replacing our unconscious thought patterns and behaviour with new, more beneficial patterns that are helpful towards a better life. It takes time to achieve this goal of self-transformation, and therefore practitioners of Yoga must first practice patience.

We must be willing to commit to a lifetime of yogic practice. There must be a basic want to grow, regardless of whether or not we will achieve enlightenment in this lifetime. It is one of Yoga’s fundamental beliefs that no effort is ever wasted, even the slightest attempt at transforming ourselves makes a difference. It is our patient cumulative effort that grows into self-realization sooner or later.

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