Five Pillars Yoga

Posts Tagged ‘Yoga for Youth’


The benefits of doing yoga with kids are manifold. Besides improving balance and endurance, yoga and mindfulness practices increase concentration and self-esteem while reducing anxiety, stress and the effects of ADHD.

Also? It’s fun.

With a little imagination yoga lends itself perfectly to Halloween. After all, the ultimate pose is named after a dead guy.

Our reccomdation is to do the following poses in costume, with lots of candles burning and the lights low. The presence of kids is not necessarily required.


One of the most common instructions for getting into Marjaryasana, Cat Pose, is to dome your back like a Halloween cat. It’s an enduring image: a hissing black cat, teeth bared, with its fur standing on end. Hollow your belly into your spine and press your palms flat against the floor to fully lengthen through your arms.


Crows have long been a symbol of death and are often the consort of witches. Like vultures, crows are carrion birds and have a general air of otherwordly spookiness. Of course, your Bakasana can be smiley and kind; there are lots of good witches out there, too! Kids are natural balancers so play with getting the knees really close to the armpits before shifting your weight forward. Remember to look out, not down.


Creepy Bug Pose

Tittibhasana, or Firefly Pose, really does look like a creepy bug. Float your feet off the floor, nestle your eblows in the hollow of your knees and move your heart center forward to pick your seat up off the ground. Walk on your hands for added spook factor.

Scary Lion’s Breath

Sit on your shins and press your palms against your thighs. Take a deep breath in through the nose, hollow your belly, and breathe out, “BOO!” Simhasana, or Lion’s Pose, is all about the demon-chasing breath you do with it. This is a great pose to do if feeling scared; it relieves tension in the face, strengthens the throat muscles and clears the air of any unwanted energy…like uninvited ghosts.

Zombie Pose

Even zombies need to stay limber. Sit in Dandasana, Staff Pose, with your legs outstretched in front of you. Instead of folding forward, extend your arms out long, parallel to the floor. Sitz-bone walk while making like the living dead.

Corpse Pose

Now’s the time to play dead. Tonight in Savasana picture your bones settling into the earth and drift into that limbic state between worlds. Who knows who you might meet?


Happy Halloween!

Photos: Skeleton crow; black cat; bakasana; firefly; You Are A Lion!; zombie pose; shavasana 

From the Mouths of Babes

As adults most of us move through modern life as efficiently as possible – faster, more streamlined, less fluff around the edges.
We may gain an advantage in the workplace, or find the time to cross another item of our to do list. Which is great! And what is lost?
Sometimes it’s simply the moment of pause – the moment of choice – a moment of reflection that is compromised for the sake of speed.


As the momentum of the day goes on, our mood might also begin to race creating anxiety and a short fuse. The line for coffee might be a bit long, traffic might be thwarting your best laid plans, a little expectation isn’t met at home, at work, at school.

Without that moment — that pause – that choice point — it’s easy to be reactionary – to be curt with our child or a coworker, glib with a friend or partner.


We’ve placed such emphasis on teaching kids emotional regulation to navigate their schooldays. Perhaps we need to be reminded from the sage little people just how simple it can be.


The video below will not only reaffirm just how special our youth is, but see if it can also function as a mindfulness exercise in itself…

We dare you to actually take the 3minutes and 41seconds required to be present with the video (almost a lifetime in todays short-attention span culture) and try this:


Watch the pace of the video and watch the pace of your energy as it swells and then ebbs. Do you notice your mood or stress level higher or lower at the beginning or end? Thoughts perhaps settling like glitter in the bottom of a jar of water.


Off the Mat and into the Classroom!

Here at Five Pillars, we are continually inspired by our teachers – and not just by their work here in the studio. Our own Jai Sugrim has been modeling Right Intention in his own life and also in the community: teaching mindfulness and movement practices to high school students in Harlem for the past year.

Yoga for children and teenagers has become increasingly popular in recent years, emerging in youth organizations, athletics and also — perhaps especially — in numerous school districts nationwide.

Mindfulness and meditation practices have been introduced to provide students with tools to reduce stress, anxiety, ADHD, and help cope with anger and depression. Yoga has been found to improve self-esteem, body image, empathy, academic focus and athletic performance.

Jai’s work uptown was highlighted in a recent article by Psychology Today, examining 7 Ways Yoga Helps Children and Teens.


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“We’re looking for kids to reduce their anxiety levels, have a tool in their back pocket, to adjust their physiology, their posture, their breathing, to access a relaxed and focused state for test-taking, anxiety, or problems at home,” explains Jai.




He goes on to say that these skills are even being put to use outside of the classroom or athletic setting, and that adolescents are “able to respond not out of anger, but to develop space, through having this technique [of mindfulness] for processing trapped energy.”

Jai will continue this meaningful work uptown with the coming school year. Interested in learning more or getting involved? Check out the Sonima Foundation for ways to participate, donate, or educate!