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- Animal Adventure (ages 2-7)
Put the palms of your hands together at the center of your chest. Close your eyes, and begin by taking three big balloon breaths. Here’s how: When you breathe in deeply, raise your arms up above your head in the shape of a big balloon. Then breathe out and bring your arms back down so that your palms are together at the center of your chest. Do this at least three times.
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- Classroom yoga (Elementary and Middle school)
Yoga helps children (and teachers!) focus, relax and be mentally alert. Take 5 or 10 minutes out of your day to share all or some of these easy exercises with your students. They can be done with no special equipment, just sitting or standing at the desks. Breathing is done through the nose unless noted otherwise.
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- Yoga to Release Anxiety (pre-teens and teens)
The following Kundalini Yoga exercises were given by Yogi Bhajan to adults, and children can do them too, starting with the minimum time. Adolescents and teens can eventually work up to the maximum amount of time and children over 10 can do them too.
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Yoga for Women
By Shakta Kaur Khalsa from her book, Yoga for Women
Staying young for a long, long time is a wonderful, blessed way to live. As women, we have so much to give as we mature; so much wisdom born of hard earned experience, and so much loving kindness to share. So let’s keep our good health and vitality so we can reap the profit of a life well-lived.
One of the very best ways I’ve found to stay young is to practice yoga. The yoga in these exercises belongs to an ancient system called Kundalini Yoga. It revitalizes your physical health and helps you awaken to your authentic self, so you can live to your greatness.
Just for the fun of it, and because we women love to look and feel beautiful, below you’ll find some yoga exercises for enchanting beauty from my book, Yoga for Women. Enjoy, and feel like the beautiful soul that you are!
FACIAL TENSION RELEASER:
For a deep release of facial tension, press firmly and hold each position for 3 breaths.
Using your thumbs, find the indentation directly under your cheekbones. Begin to press all along that ridge, massaging the muscle under the cheekbones from the inside area close to your nose, to the outer edge where it meets your jaws.
This exercise brings flexibility to the spine, which is the true measure of youthfulness.
- Sit on your heels with your spine straight. Place your palms on the ground just in front of the knees. Bring your neck vertebrae in line with your spine by lifting head while tucking the chin slightly in toward the neck. You will resemble one of those statues of a Buddhist temple lion.
- Begin flexing your spine to its maximum capacity, keeping the elbows straight as you flex. Inhale and arch your spine, lifting your chest while keeping your head level.
- Exhale as you round your spine so that your chest curves inward. Keep a constant rhythm. You may begin to sweat lightly on the forehead and spine. Continue for 2-3 minutes.
MEDITATION TO MAKE YOUR FACE INNOCENTLY CHARMING:
This is a very beautiful meditation. It is said to have the ability to make a woman feel happy and extend her life. The mudra (hand position) and breath affect the brain chemistry in ways that allow you feel cozy, relaxed, and your face reflects an innocent charm.Sit comfortably in a meditative pose with your spine straight. Place the heels of the hands together in front of you. Curl the fingers of your left hand, and then wrap the fingers of your right hand around the left. When you look down at your hands, your left index finger should be closest to you. Bring your two thumbs together so the sides are touching, then rest them on the index finger of the left hand. They should not touch the right index finger at all. An air space is naturally created between the hands.
With the hands positioned about 8-10 inches from the face at the level of the mouth, begin inhaling deeply through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, directing the air through the opening created between your thumbs. Exhale very completely. Close your eyes and continue the breath meditation for whatever amount of time you wish. The original instructions say to practice until you fall asleep.
This is a very relaxing meditation, perfect to do before bed, or to feel refreshed after work. Do not practice if you have work to do. You may like to practice for 11 minutes, as that is a complete meditation cycle of time.
Excerpt from Yoga for Women, by Shakta Kaur Khalsa, published by Dorling Kindersley, 2002.
Kundalini: The Awakening of the Self
By Shakta Khalsa
People who do yoga, or have at least some understanding of yoga, are curious about Kundalini Yoga. In the past, the Kundalini energy has been referred to as “serpent power,” and other exotic sounding terms, but Kundalini Yoga, as taught by my teacher, Yogi Bhajan, is much more simple and close to home than you might think.
Kundalini comes from the root word, kundal, in Sanskrit, which means “the lock of the hair from the beloved.” The uncoiling of this “hair” is the awakening of the kundalini, the unlimited potential that already exists in every human.
Yoga is the science of the self, and kundalini is the awakening of the self. It is that simple.
So what does a Kundalini Yoga class look like? First we tune in using a centering technique to call upon our inner guidance. The tune in for Kundalini Yoga is: Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo, repeated three times, one per each deep breath. Translated, it means; “I salute the Divine guidance within me and all around me.”
Then we warm-up and stretch out our bodies using movement and strong breathing. Each Kundalini Yoga class is unique, but each will contain a “set” of postures and exercises that work on specific areas of the body, mind, and spirit. There are literally hundreds of these yoga sets, or Kriyas, to choose from: yoga for your back, your radiance, your mind/heart balance, your ability to keep up through hard times, in short, for every aspect of you as a human being.
After the yoga set, a Kundalini Yoga class will culminate with a deep relaxation, supported and uplifted by divine music, and often times, the sound of the gong. After the restful period, most Kundalini Yoga classes end with breath or mantra meditation–the icing on the cake, so to speak!
Here are a couple of easy exercises that bring flexibility to your spine and rejuvenate your brain. It is essential to create an internal awareness during yoga, not only to reap the greatest benefits, but also to prevent injury to the body. As best as you can, apply your meditative mind to each moment spent in Kundalini Yoga. Feel the difference between a “good” hurt and “bad” hurt. A “good” hurt feels like a muscle offering resistance, then relaxing and unwinding. One effective way to help muscles relax more deeply is to direct your inbreath into any tight areas and visualize yourself relaxing more deeply. On the outbreath, feel the tightness releasing.
LOWER SPINE FLEX:
Start by sitting on the floor with the legs crossed and tucked in. Straighten the spine by pressing the chest slightly forward and lifting the ribcage. Relax the shoulders and slightly tuck the chin. This is called “easy” pose. Now take hold of the outside ankle with your two hands. Inhale and flex the spine forward, chest out and shoulders back. Exhale and slump the body. The shoulders curve forward, the chest caves in, and the spine is rounded. Continue in a rhythmic forward and backward manner. Focus on rocking the pelvis forward and back, as well as moving the mid and upper spine. Feel each vertebra of the spine curl and uncurl. As you continue, pick up the pace. Go for 1 to 2 minutes. Then inhale deeply, holding the breath. Exhale and relax the breath and the pose.
In this exercise, you are loosening the vertebrae of the lower spine, and stimulating the energy of the pelvic area.
Still sitting in easy pose, bring your hands up to the shoulders with the fingers in the front and the thumbs in the back. Straighten the spine and begin twisting side to side as far as you can in each direction. Keep the upper arms parallel to the ground as you swing freely from side to side. Inhale to the left and exhale to the right. Breathe rhythmically and powerfully for 1-2 minutes.
The entire spine is loosened and adjusted.
Having worked your way up to the neck, drop your head forward, and as you inhale begin to rotate the head around to the right. Keep the jaws relaxed, the mouth slack. The chin will come over the right shoulder as you inhale. The head will drop back in a smooth, continuous motion. As you exhale, the head will move over the left shoulder and back to the front. Move meditatively and slowly. Feel that the weight of your head is taking your neck around in a fluid circle. After two or three circles, reverse the direction. Inhale to the left, exhale as the head comes around to the right. Continue for two or three circles then inhale and bring the head to the front. Exhale and relax.
Energy has been stimulated and circulated in the spine upward to the neck area. This exercise releases the tension in the neck, allowing the energy to flow into the head.
Stand with the right leg forward and the left leg back at a 45-degree angle to the front foot. Straddle the legs about 2 1/2 feet apart. Raise the right arm straight in front, parallel to the ground, and make a fist as if grasping a bow. The left arm is pulled back as if pulling a bowstring back to the shoulder. The left forearm is parallel to the ground, and the hand is in a fist. Both wrists form a straight line with the arm. Bend the right knee and lean into it slightly so that you cannot see the right foot. Keep the body centered, do not lean forward, but put 70 percent of your weight on the front leg. Face forward and fix the eyes above the fist to the horizon. After 1-2 minutes, switch legs.
Archer pose brings the qualities of focus and fearlessness. It balances and strengthens the nervous system.
MOVEMENT RELAXATION (Yoga Set)
Rhythmic, unforced, graceful, and free movement relaxes the entire body and mind. It releases the tensions stored in the body from our everyday emotions. All emotional traumas leave their signature of tension in the body. If these areas are not relaxed, the built-up stress can lead to both physical and mental health imbalances.
Stand straight with arms completely relaxed. Close the eyes. Notice any tension by feeling the entire body. Allow the tension to release in each part. Consciously let it go. Next, begin to sway and move every part of the body. Dance, feeling the easy movement of each body area. If there is gentle rhythmic music of a high vibration available, it may be used as a background. Continue for 3-11 minutes, or as long as you like.
Stand straight with the eyes still closed. With the hands, begin to lightly feel each part of the body without reservation. Every square inch must be touched. Feel sensitively with the palms of the hands. Bless yourself with your touch. Continue for 2-5 minutes.Feeling the entire body confirms the reality of the relaxation, is self-healing, and smoothes the aura (surrounding energy field).
- FORWARD HANG:
Lean forward with arms hanging completely relaxed. Keep the knees relaxed and unlocked. Allow every muscle in the body to relax. Let the breath be normal. Continue for 2-11 minutes.
- BACKWARD HANG:
Inhale and exhale deeply several times. Slowly straighten and, in a continuous motion, slowly lean backwards with arms hanging loosely down from shoulders. The breath is relaxed. Continue for 1 minute. Then slowly straighten and completely relax.The last two exercises strengthen the heart and circulatory system. If this system is weak, tissues in the extremities and joints may build up deposits that create illness.
From Kundalini Yoga, by Shakta Kaur Khalsa, DK Publishing