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Why Goat Yoga?

When I first tell people about our Goat Yoga classes, most either think it’s “interesting” or “hilarious”. And I agree, it is kind of both.  But yoga has gotten some backlash for all of its trendy new takes on the practice, from BeerYoga to Hot Yoga to yes, Goat Yoga. Yoga, like everything else, has its critics. But is combining yoga, steeped in thousands of years of tradition and methodology, with beer, heat, or animals, taking something away from the practice? In my opinion, it depends on what you consider to be a practice.

Let’s go back for a second to what yoga really is. Beyond the poses, the sweaty arm balances, the lotus on the beach, meditating at sunset awesomeness of what our images of yoga may be. The foundations of the practice; the reason the practice is so hard; the reason for that euphoric “ahhhhh” feeling after an hour of “paying attention” on your mat; the reason so many of us strive to be yogi, and are so eager to hop on any bandwagon that will get us there. Yoga enables us to be our best selves, and to let go of the negativity and toxicity that surrounds us and influences us. Yoga gives us the freedom to be who we are naturally, and to be okay with just being, with presence. Yoga quite simply means to unite mind, body and spirit, and according to the sutras, yoga is the “cessation of the fluctuation of the mindstuff”. In other words, yoga quiets the mind and the ego. Yoga’s yamas and niyamas teach kindness, compassion, truthfulness, nonjudgment, and self-discipline; to relinquish hostility and to live less materially and more cleanly. To honor not only yourself, but the living beings that surround us, and our environment.

Yoga is work, and through this work we help to create a more peaceful and sustaining space for ourselves and a more peaceful and sustaining universe.

Yoga is only in part what happens on the mat; but mostly it’s about what happens off the mat.

With this in mind, does it really matter if yoga is practiced on paddleboards or in a heated room or with animals? Isn’t it still the same practice? If you drink a glass of locally crafted beer before, after, or during your asana practice, does that make it less of a practice? If, while doing downward dog, a goat jumps on your back or you get distracted by a puppy nuzzling your arm, does that take away from living mindfully?  If your yoga is playing a round of golf, rock climbing, or sailing your boat, does that make you less of a yogi? I would argue not.

Goat Yoga

Goat Yoga is not only a way to make yoga accessible and fun, and to bring people to the mat that maybe needed a little extra incentive to begin a practice, but it’s also about connecting to animals and nature, a basic human need. I think Goat Yoga has been such a big trend in cities across the country because people are yearning for the excuse to spend time with nature, and with animals. Being on a beautiful farm, with amazing little creatures, away from the stressors of everyday life doesn’t hurt either. Through our Goat Yoga classes, we hope that people will find a reconnection to – and maybe a newfound love for – outdoors and animal life. And find the space to explore the practice of yoga and what that may mean for them. Lastly, we want – and expect – students to leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, while also uplifted and happy because of their new animal friends!

I encourage you to make your yoga your practice, whatever that may be. If you love nature, and/or you love animals, or if you’re curious what a farm animal yoga class would be like, for if you’re just into trying new things, you are welcome to our Goat Yoga classes, and we hope you’ll come. New to the practice or seasoned practitioner, all are welcome! We encourage students to stay after to snuggle with the animals and take pictures if they want!

Serving Burlington, Colchester, St Albans, Essex, Essex Junction, Williston, Winooski, South Burlington, Shelburne, Charlotte, Jericho, Underhill, St. George, Hinesburg, Huntington, Richmond, Bolton, Stowe, Montpelier, Middlebury, Vergennes, Starksboro, and all over VT and everywhere else!

Water and Rock Studio Presents: 

Goat Yoga

Goat Yoga is a thing. And we’re doing it! With several adorable baby goats and fun-loving adult goats, this is a yoga class you’ll never forget. Practice yoga while these cuties nuzzle you, sniff you, and maybe even jump on you in their natural yogi element! Stay and play with animals after! No experience needed. All levels welcome.

Location: Midnight Goat Farm, 9613 Main Rd, Huntington, VT
When: Sundays 10-11am

Cost: $35/drop-ins (advanced registration required)

Register today as spots are filling quickly!

Everyday Kids Yoga: Spring Theme

Everyday Kids Yoga: Spring Theme

Spring is just around the corner and with the inconsistency of this year’s winter weather here in Philly, some of the flowers are confused. Daffodils and crocuses have bloomed in our yard, and last year’s chives are already making a reappearance. I can’t help but start to feel a little spring in my step (pun intended) too! So for my kids yoga classes I am beginning to add in some spring-themed poses, activities and discussion. Spring is such an inspiring season for kids yoga, as there are ample opportunities to talk about nature! Gratitude toward the sun and rain, new life beginning, budding flowers, animals reappearing after hiding away all winter. I encourage you to get creative, have fun, and try a little spring yoga with your kids. Learn more about the benefits of yoga for kids here. Here are some of my favorite spring-themed yoga poses and activities that are easy for parents and teachers to try, and hopefully they will inspire you to get creative too!

Spring Theme Ideas

Standing Poses:

  1. Warrior 1 – From Mountain Pose, step the left foot back about 2 feet. Bend front knee. Opening arms up toward the sun, breathe in the fresh air and warmth of the sun’s rays! Switch sides.

    Quinn doing Tree Pose

  2. Tree Pose – From Mountain Pose, bring the left foot onto the lower part of the right leg, with knee bent, out to side. Balance on one foot and use your arms to “make branches”. Imagine that you have roots growing from your feet down into the earth. What kind of tree are you? Repeat other side.
  3. Sun Salutation – For older children you can talk about why we’re thankful for the sun, and why we need the sun. Begin in Mountain Pose, standing tall with hands by your sides. Inhale, Reach up to the sky to say hi to the sun. Reach down to the ground to pat the earth. Deep breath in, step back to snake or cobra pose as you breathe out. Hsssssss. Deep breath in, and exhale to downward dog. Bark like a dog and wag your tail. Few breaths here. I gale jump feet back to hands. Next inhale rise back up to say hi to the sun again. Exhale back to mountain. Here is a great video demonstrating a kids sun salutation by Quinn:


Seed to Tree Activity

Quinn doing Child’s Pose, or “Seed”

Begin with a short discussion about seeds ad what they need to grow.

We’re going to be little seeds now who grow into beautiful trees or flowers. Have child(ren) come to Child’s Pose (seeds). Alternately announce the warm sun shining down, then rain (pat their backs with your fingers), then, as they grow, the wind (they can sway in the wind). Each round they grow a little more until they are all the way up to standing, swaying in the breeze and enjoying the warm sun rays. Ask them what flower or tree they are, what color, what smell!

Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

My kids love this book. No matter how many times we read it, it never gets old. I love using it in my Kids Yoga classes too, especially in the spring. Depending on the age of children you’re working with, a little discussion about new life and how things grow is a great way to introduce this story. When reading, have the children act out the different poses (i.e. Child’s Pose for the seed, inch on bellies for caterpillar) and have the young ones help you count the food. Kids love being a hungry caterpillar, finding “food” all over the room as they wiggle about, and then turning into beautiful flapping butterflies!

Seated/Supine Poses

  1. Quinn and Xavier doing Flower Pose

    Butterfly – Sit up tall, bend knees and bring soles of the feet together. Hold ankles and flap “wings”. Wear “antennae” (using hands for antennae) and fly around smelling the flowers (your feet). What do they smell like? What color are they?

  2. Flower (partner or group) – Sit up tall and press feet into your partner’s feet, or sides of the feet into your neighbor’s. Holding hands, lift legs, keeping them spread wide. Take a few breaths.
  3. Snake – Lie on tummy. Slither and lift head and chest.  Can you move without using your arms and legs?

Dandelion Breath

My kids love finding dandelions, and of course making wishes on them. For this technique all you need is imagination! Have children hold their imaginary dandelions in their hand, make a wish on the inhale and blow the dandelion seeds on the exhale. You can have them practice blowing softly and blowing in short hard bursts. Watch the seeds fly in the wind!

I hope you enjoy doing some of these Kids Yoga Spring-themed ideas, and that it inspires you to create your own as well. Have fun with it, and let me know how you and your kids get creative! Contact us to learn more about our Kids programs and offerings.

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Everyday Kids Yoga: Winter Theme

Everyday Kids Yoga: Winter Theme

In my previous post I discussed how children are natural yogis and the many benefits of yoga for children. Here I’ve outlined some ideas for a winter themed class to enjoy with your child or classroom. One thing to note when teaching kids yoga: you have to roll with it. You may approach the class with a yoga lesson plan and soon find that you have to completely scrap that and do something different, depending on how the children respond and how they’re feeling any given moment. And that’s ok! There are no rules to yoga, except to enjoy it and to be present. So while these ideas will get you started, I definitely encourage you to be creative, have fun, and let the kids get creative and explore too! These winter theme ideas can be adjusted depending on the age of the children. I typically use this for toddlers, preschoolers, and even elementary aged children. For toddlers you’ll be doing lots of songs and activities, for preschoolers a few more poses and talking about nature or the seasons, and for elementary age you can have a little more discussion and add in more poses.

Winter Theme Ideas

Xavier Ice Skating!

Standing Poses. Following warm-ups I like to delve into a few standing poses, emphasizing deep breaths during each pose, making transitions fun, and asking the children if they have ideas as well. Here are a few poses that I like to use for winter classes:

1. Skier (Chair Pose): pretend like you’re skiing down a mountain! Swoop left, swoop right, go low, go high!
2. Ice skater (Warrior 3): skate on the right foot, then switch to the left, and switch back and forth a few times, holding each side for 2-5 breaths, depending on the age of children. What else does an ice skater do? Let the children get creative with their ice skating!
3. Making a snowman (Squat): Holding a squat, pretend that you’re making a snowman! Gather the snow, for a ball, pat the ball.

Snow-themed Book. I try to incorporate a children’s book into every kids yoga class that I teach. All children love books and you can easily find books that will be fun to act out through yoga poses, or through making up yoga poses! One book that I like for my winter classes is Snow Happy by Patricia Hubbell. There are lots of other books that will work too at your nearest library! 

Breathing Activity: Blowing Snowballs. A favorite activity for any age class is my Blowing Snowballs activity. You’ll need 1 straw and 1 cotton ball (snowball) for each child. The idea is to have the children use their breath to blow through the straw and move the cotton ball. You can talk about how to use their belly breath, how blowing softly may move the snowball differently than when blowing harder. Older children like to make it a race to see who can blow their snowball across the room the fastest!

Seated/Supine Poses. I like to move toward the quieting/calming time of class by beginning with seated and supine yoga poses. Somewinter-themed poses are:

Xavier Making Snow Angels!

1. You’re a Snowman. Sit in Stick Pose, seated tall with legs together and stretched straight out in front of you. Pretend to gather snow from around you by twisting to the right and gathering, and twisting to the left and gathering. Then pretend to pat the snow on your legs, arms, belly, head, like you’re patting the snow down. Make sure you get your feet too (Forward Fold)!
2. Sledding. From Stick Pose hold onto the side edges of your mat (or pretend like you’re holding on if you don’t have a mat) and pretend to sled. You may lean to the right, lean to the left, watch out for that tree!, have fun with it!
3. Roll in the Snow. From Happy Baby Pose hold the sides of your feet or legs and roll from side to side like you’re rolling in the snow.
Snow Angels. Lie on your back and pretend to make snow angels!

Guided Meditation. I love short guided meditations for children. My 5 year old asks me often to do one for her, and she likes the way it calms her body. Here is a script that I sometimes use for my winter classes:

Winter Guided Meditation for Kids. Lie on your back in the snow. Notice how the snow feels. Is it soft or hard? Wet or dry? Cold or warm? Allow yourself to relax on this blanket of snow and relax your body. Now feel the cool wind blowing and brushing against your skin. Is it windy or just a calm breeze? Can you hear the wind? Can you hear any other noises like the rustling of the trees or the crunch of snow beneath someone’s feet? Now feel the snowflakes gently falling on your skin. Do they feel cool? Wet? Soft? Maybe stick your tongue out and see if you can catch them on your tongue. What do they taste like?…Now slowly begin your journey back to this room, where it is warm and cozy and dry. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Stretch your arms over your head, and slowly roll up to seated.

These are just a few ideas to get you started with kids yoga this Winter. I hope you try some of them, and have fun with it! Let me know how it goes, and what ideas you have to add to this! And of course, contact us at Water and Rock Studio if you’d like to try a Kids Yoga class or private session!

Everyday Kids Yoga: Benefits of Yoga for Children

Teaching yoga to children is a fun, joyful, and very rewarding experience. Everyone can teach yoga to children on some level, and I strongly encourage parents, caregivers, and school teachers to incorporate yoga lessons into their everyday experiences with children. Children are natural yogis, and you will most likely find that they pick up on the concepts very quickly and easily, especially since so much of what yoga is about is simply innate and natural to children. It’s actually much more natural to children than it is to adults!

5 Ways Kids are Natural Yogis

1. Love of Animals and Nature. As anyone who has worked with kids has probably noticed, kids have a natural respect for and interest in nature and animals. They are inherently curious about their environment and the different creatures that they encounter. They have a natural ability to really feel what it may be like to be a lion, a dog, or a tree, and they tend to get fully engrossed in making these postures their own.
2. Fearlessness. Unlike adults, kids approach life with an enviable freedom and fearlessness. They are happy to experiment with new things, new challenges, and new adventures, and manage to have a lot of fun doing it!
3. Work Ethic. When it comes to a kid’s job (play), they have a very strong work ethic. Yoga is a great way to play and explore. Children love to imagine that they are warriors, bears, ice skaters…and pretend that they are walking through a jungle, sledding down a hill, or playing on a farm!
4. Born Yogis. Did you know that children are born yogis? Babies and small children naturally exhibit many asanas at different stages of development. At some point we’ve probably all seen a baby doing Happy Baby Pose, a toddler in Triangle or Downward Dog, or a young child in Childs Pose. Babies also naturally breathe in a yogic way. As they inhale their belly rises, expanding, and as they exhale the belly draws in. Many adults no longer breathe this way naturally, and have to be re-taught how to breathe.
5. They Are Present. Children are naturally present, and they want you to be too! They enjoy each moment, no matter how simple, and in this way they have a full appreciation and gratitude for life. Whether it’s noticing a stick that looks a little different, tasting a particular flavor or texture in food, or observing expressions of adults, children show us how to be in the here and now, and how to be okay with it.

As children are natural yogis, teaching yoga to them is easy, fun, and beneficial to both kids and adults! Many parents bring their children to my yoga classes because they love the poses or they want their children to learn calming strategies. However, yoga for children actually incorporates and teaches much much more! After even 1-2 classes parents often notice subtle changes in the way children handle situations or explore their environment. As a previous school psychologist I encouraged teachers and parents to utilize many tools from yoga when helping a child who was feeling anxious, overwhelmed, out of control, dysregulated, or angry. Here are 5 of the many benefits of yoga for children, in case anyone needs convincing:

1. Physical Benefits. Yoga can increase:
– body awareness
– flexibility
– strength
– coordination
– body control
– strength

2. Mental and Emotional Benefits. Yoga helps to build:
– self-confidence
– concentration
– positive self-image
– social skills
– social awareness

3. Educational. Yoga teaches about nature and animals, but also about life events, body parts, and other basic academic concepts (i.e. Numbers, letters, seasons).

4. Encouraging Positive Social Awareness and Interactions. Yoga teaches kindness and respect towards yourself and other living things through both movement and conversation.

5. Calming and Regulating. Yoga teaches breathing techniques and poses that encourage calm and relaxation. I have had many parents tell me that their child practicing some of the breathing exercises that they learned in yoga when they need to calm their body. Others say their child set up a “calm space” in their home to breathe, do yoga, or even read a book. Yoga helps children connect with their bodies which in turn helps them self-regulate.

The benefits of yoga for children are endless! I encourage anyone reading this to try it with your children today, and to get you started, here is a Kids Yoga Winter Theme to get you started. Let me know how it goes, and how you like to incorporate yoga in your child’s everyday life!  Contact us at Water and Rock Studio if interested in kids classes or private sessions!