Teaching Yoga and Meditation to Kids

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April 1, 2015

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Mariam Gates is a highly skilled teacher and yoga instructor with decades of experience, as well as the founder of the Kid Power Yoga program. Mariam is the author of Sounds True’s first children’s book, Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story—a tale designed to bring parents and children together in a relaxing flow of postures and visualizations. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Mariam about integrating yoga into public school education and the special considerations of teaching the practice to children. They also talk about Mariam’s vision for teaching yoga and meditation from kindergarten through twelfth grade, as well as the possible benefits from such a sweeping program. Finally, Tami and Mariam discuss the background and inspirations behind Good Night Yoga. (54 minutes)

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Mariam Gates holds a master’s in education from Harvard University and has more than 20 years’ experience working with children. Her renowned Kid Power Yoga™ program combines her love of yoga with teaching to help children access their inner gifts. For more, visit kidpoweryoga.com.

Also By Author

Meet the Author of Good Morning Yoga

The Author
Mariam Gates holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and is the creator of Kid Power Yoga. She is the author of the bestselling Good Night Yoga and many other yoga-related books for children. Mariam’s favorite yoga pose is Tree. She lives in Northern California. For more, see mariamgates.com.

Good Morning Yoga Book Cover

The Book

Good Morning Yoga is a board book version of the bestselling picture book. Targeted for the littlest yogis, ages 0–4, it is the perfect introduction to simple yoga poses at an early age, encouraging children to enjoy moving their bodies, using their imaginations, and learning a new skill.

 

 

 

 

 

The-Monster-at-the-End-of-This-Book

What was your favorite book as a child? 

 

My absolute favorite book as a child was The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone and illustrated by Michael Smollin. (Though on the cover, it really just gives credit to “lovable, furry old Grover.”)

 

It is the original “interactive” book. As a child, the fact that Grover was speaking directly to me, the reader, and that I was in on (and affecting) the progression of the story was nothing short of magical. It was my first experience of feeling amazed, surprised, and delighted by what could happen in the pages of a book—a feeling that has obviously never left.

All of my books are “interactive,” and my hope is that children feel that kind of connection and magic when they read them. I want young readers to be transported and to feel how each word and each image was created as a gift for them to enjoy.

 

Has your book taken on a new meaning in the world’s current circumstances? Is there anything you would have included in your book if you were writing it now?

I have loved hearing over the years about how teachers and parents incorporate Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story into morning meetings and family routines. But once we went into shelter-in-place in 2020, I started having daily and weekly emails and messages from people around the country. I’ve had the honor of hearing personal stories from teachers who are still using it, but now on Zoom, and parents who use the flow and the visualization at the end as transitions and breaks in their homeschooling schedules. In the midst of all of this separation, it has been an unbelievable gift to be connected to people through the book.

mishavayner

Photo courtesy of Misha Vayner

 

moja.yoga

Photo courtesy of MOJA YOGA

 

What is something that doesn’t make it into your author bio?

In my 20s and 30s I was a hand model! It was an incredibly fun (and lucrative) job. I had always received compliments on my hands, so in graduate school, when I did not have time for a regular employment schedule, I started hand modeling on the side. Mariam hand model

This was back when most things were done in person, so I made an appointment for an interview with Ford Modeling and brought in a set of “handshots.” They signed me on the spot, and I spent several years working in commercials and print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Morning Yoga Book Cover

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Bedtime Visualization: Rocketing to the Moon

Sweet Dreams, Sounds True

Bedtime should be the calmest moment of the day with our kids, but often it is anything but. Whether we are dealing with last-minute pajama changes, tooth brushing negotiations, or we’re trying to corral our kids into their rooms, it can end up being an exasperating time for both kids and parents alike.

There are many reasons bedtime can be hard. The first is that we are tired, and of course they are too, so no one is exactly ‘at their best’ at the end of the day. Another challenge for children is that they are about to say ‘goodbye’ to us for the night and that can bring up anxiety about being on their own. Also, let’s face it, falling asleep can be difficult regardless of age. The shift from active to rest is not easy; especially when you add a mind full of racing thoughts—which is typical for children (and adults) when things get quiet at night.

What is needed is a way to help children settle mentally and physically at bedtime. When they feel safe and at ease, falling asleep gets a lot easier. Guided visualizations are tools to support children in using their own imaginations to let their bodies and minds relax at bedtime.

The visualizations in Sweet Dreams: Bedtime Visualizations for Kids ,by Mariam Gates and illustrated by Leigh Standley, engage children in mini journeys to underwater worlds, a horseback ride through a field, and even into space while helping them naturally shift into relaxation. The fun and gentle exercises move them into a calm state which is essential for a good night’s rest. Each visualization is also short enough that it can be easily added as a ‘final story.’

We invite you to try the “Rocketing to the Moon” visualization from Sweet Dreams and see if it helps make bedtime a little smoother for everyone.

Lie down on your back and bring your legs together, pressing your arms tight against your body. You are a rocket ship going to the moon.

Start bouncing your legs to ignite the engine.
10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . 6 . . .

Now shake, shake, shake your whole body.
5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1. BLAST OFF!!!

As you launch into space, point your toes and make yourself as long as you can.

Take a DEEP BREATH IN and a LONG BREATH OUT. Relax your whole body as you sail through space. You are heading toward the moon.

All around you are bright stars and clusters of asteroids. It’s peaceful and quiet.

The moon is getting bigger and bigger the closer you get.

Thud. YOU HAVE ARRIVED.

Step out of your rocket. Bend and extend your legs to make big steps onto the moon like you are walking in slow motion.

You can see Earth in the distance. It is blue and green, like a jewel hanging in the dark sky. Take some deep breaths in and out and think about Earth and how beautiful it is. Think about how lucky you are to live on such a wonderful planet.

It’s time to climb back into your rocket ship.

Take another DEEP BREATH IN and a LONG BREATH OUT.

YOU ARE HEADING HOME.

 

Mariam Gates, Sounds True

 

 

MARIAM GATES has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and two decades of experience working with children. She is the author of the bestselling Good Night Yoga series. Mariam likes to spend most days writing, where she can explore underwater depths, fly through the sky, and walk on the moon—all in the same afternoon! She lives with her highly imaginative family in Northern California. Learn more at mariamgates.com.

 

 

 

Leigh Standley, Sounds True

 

 

 

LEIGH STANDLEY is the artist, writer, and owner of Curly Girl Design, Inc. She creates art for greeting cards, calendars, journals, wall art, and more, and her art is sold throughout the U.S. and around the world. Leigh resides in Boston with her husband and twin little people. She can’t live without yoga, her family, Snickers, and Lucy the Wonder Dog. Leigh believes in magic and is quite certain that given a cape and a nice tiara she could save the world. Learn more at curlygirldesign.com.

Sweet Dreams, Sounds True

 

 

Available at your favorite bookseller

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Sounds True

Help Children Relax at Bedtime

Looking for more great reads?

 

Excerpted from Good Night Yoga. Written by Mariam Gates and illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder.

Mariam Gates holds a master’s in education from Harvard University and has more than 20 years’ experience working with children. Her renowned Kid Power Yoga™ program combines her love of yoga with teaching to help children access their inner gifts. See kidpoweryoga.com.

 

 

Illustrator Sarah Jane Hinder creates acrylic artwork for a variety of children’s book, including Good Night YogaGood Morning Yoga, The Three Little Pigs, and The Elves and the Shoemaker. She lives in Manchester, England, with her husband and two chihuahuas. See sarahjanehinder.com.

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Raw Blueberry Cheesecake

Raw Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake

From the book, Whole Girl by Sadie Radinsky

Yield: 8 servings

 

INGREDIENTS:

CRUST

  • 1 ½ cups roasted pecan pieces 
  • 2 Tbsp monk fruit maple-flavored syrup or pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

 

FILLING

  • 2 cups raw cashews or cashew pieces, soaked overnight in 4 cups of water, then rinsed
  • 1 cup freeze-dried or fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup coconut cream, from the top of a chilled 13 1/2-ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp monk fruit maple-flavored syrup or pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted 
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

CRUST

  1. Line the bottom of a 6-inch springform cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a high-speed blender, blend together the crust ingredients just until it forms a dough-like consistency. It might help to use your blender’s tamper, if you have one. Do not overblend or it will turn into pecan butter!
  3. Press the pecan crust evenly into the bottom of the cake pan and place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

 

FILLING

  • Without washing your blender, combine the filling ingredients (except for 1 cup of fresh blueberries) and blend until completely smooth.
  • Pour the filling onto the frozen crust and top with 1 cup fresh blueberries. Place in the freezer for approximately 5 hours, or until it’s frozen through.
  • Using a butter knife, gently swipe around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake. Remove the cake from the springform pan. Slice and serve. Store any leftover cake in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw for 15 minutes before serving.

blueberry cheesecake

 

This recipe is featured in the young adult book, Whole Girl: Live Vibrantly, Love Your Entire Self, and Make Friends with Food by Sadie Radinsky.

 

sadie radinskySadie Radinsky is a 19-year-old blogger and recipe creator. For over six years, she has touched the lives of girls and women worldwide with her award-winning website, wholegirl.com, where she shares paleo treat recipes and advice for living an empowered life. She has published articles and recipes in national magazines and other platforms, including Paleo, Shape, Justine, mindbodygreen, and The Primal Kitchen Cookbook. She lives in the mountains of Los Angeles. For more, visit wholegirl.com.

 

 

 

 

whole girl bookSounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Indiebound

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Blondies

From the book, Whole Girl by Sadie Radinsky

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt (optional)

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and tahini just until combined. Whisk in the coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, baking soda, and sea salt. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the chopped dark chocolate.
  3. Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish. Bake the blondies for 16 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and the center is just cooked through. Sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt, if using.
  4. Let the blondies cool for 10 minutes. Slice them into 9 large squares or 16 smaller squares and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

blondies

 

This recipe is featured in the young adult book, Whole Girl: Live Vibrantly, Love Your Entire Self, and Make Friends with Food by Sadie Radinsky.

 

sadie radinskySadie Radinsky is a 19-year-old blogger and recipe creator. For over six years, she has touched the lives of girls and women worldwide with her award-winning website, wholegirl.com, where she shares paleo treat recipes and advice for living an empowered life. She has published articles and recipes in national magazines and other platforms, including Paleo, Shape, Justine, mindbodygreen, and The Primal Kitchen Cookbook. She lives in the mountains of Los Angeles. For more, visit wholegirl.com.

 

 

 

 

whole girl book

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Indiebound

Golden Tara to Who Helps Manifest and Fulfill Purpose

Meditating on Golden Tara shifts your sense of identity away from the smaller self that experiences itself as a separate being. When you identify with Tara in meditation and throughout the day, you realize that you are always in relationship with a fantastic, complex universe. Your energy increases because you no longer feel alone. You have Tara’s help, the help of friends, and countless other beings as well.

On the one hand, you are an infinitesimally tiny part of the grand whole. On the other hand, you have a role to play in the continuing creation of this complex universe. As you deepen and stabilize your inner Tara consciousness, your actions are imbued with love and compassion, arising from your understanding that you are an integral part of whatever you seek to change.

Remembering Tara also helps preserve your energies when you encounter unexpected obstacles; her golden light reveals the treasures hidden in the unwelcome stumbling blocks of life. Difficult challenges hold keys to awakening. Tara helps you approach problems as an inherent part of the journey, supporting you as you move toward them to uncover wisdom they might offer. They often provide a wake-up call to send you in a new direction, offering greater clarity about your life purpose.

This inclusive attitude creates more health in your personal ecosystem as well as the universal ecosystem. Ask Golden Tara to transform your challenging emotions into love and to increase your energy for discovering meaning and purpose in your life.

Tara’s Appearance

Golden Tara appears as the life-giving female buddha in a body of radiant golden light. She embodies the light of life itself. The vase in Golden Tara’s hand contains the power to increase our life energy, power, and material and spiritual resources. These resources support us in times of ease and times of difficulty, enabling us to discover and fulfill the purposes of our life on a moment-to-moment basis and over the arc of our lives.

For centuries, artists have created statues and thangka paintings of Tara, always adorned with jewelry. These sacred paintings, usually done on fabric and surrounded by brocade, portray the qualities of their subjects and convey teachings as well. Thus we take special note of Tara’s adornments. A crown rests atop her head. Necklaces of varying lengths cascade from her neck to her waist. Bracelets encircle her wrists. All have been crafted from gold with deep red and blue jewels woven into the designs.

Gold has been the preferred precious metal of jewelry makers for thousands of years. Gold is malleable; gold doesn’t tarnish. Golden light is associated with increasing life-force, healing, and holiness. Holy people of many faiths are often painted in an aura of golden radiance.

Many years ago, I heard a teaching that Tara’s jewels represent her experiences over lifetimes on her way to enlightenment and buddhahood. Profound understanding of the Buddhist teachings and her experiences as a woman led Wisdom Moon to vow to attain enlightenment as a woman and to persevere toward her goal. Tara’s life events were surely difficult and awe-inspiring, ordinary and phenomenal. All of them were precious contributions to her journey, which has benefited countless beings over hundreds of years.

The Mantra

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Ayur Punye Pushtam Kuru Soha!

“Ohm Tahray Tootahray Tooray Sarwah Ahyoor Poonyay Pushtahm Kooroo Soha!”

When you recite the mantra of Golden Tara, you are urging (kuru) Tara to increase (pushtam) your life energies (ayur) and merit (punye), your contributions to adding positive energy to beings around the world, near and far. Mantra recitations need not be limited to formal practice. Use them throughout the day to slow down and focus on whatever task is at hand.

The Practice

First, visualize the entire mandala of Green Tara emerging into the space in front of you. You are surrounded by your friends, loved ones, and supporters, and she is surrounded by your teachers and all the twenty-one emanations. After the opening prayers, imagine Golden Tara coming into the foreground of the mandala. Recall her praise while visualizing golden rays of light streaming from her heart as well as the golden vase in her right hand, which rests on her right knee, palm open in the gesture of supreme giving.

As you recite her mantra, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Ayur Punye Pushtam Kuru Soha, imagine that you are absorbing this light and that other beings and other places are receiving the light of Tara as well.

Kuru, which appears in seven of the Tara mantras, carries a particularly bold tone. You’re not meekly asking Tara to help—you’re putting your whole heart and body into this request. “Tara, please do this for me. Remove blockages so more energy flows into my life and work! I’m counting on you!” The same tasks that feel overwhelming in one moment seem entirely possible in the next.

Tara can help you discern the wisdom inherent in the obstacles you encounter in your life and practice. Meditate on the continuity in your life—the joyful moments, the extremely painful moments, and everything in between. Your experiences are not meaningless fragments. Imagine a mosaic forming as you piece the fragments together into a beautiful coherent pattern. Invoke Tara’s wisdom to give you greater clarity about your life purpose and the means to fulfill it.

Recite the mantra at least 21 times or 108 times whenever possible. Then rest in the vibrational field created by your chanting. Allow frustration and doubt to dissolve, releasing energy for healing. You become richer in inner resources, which leads to enriched outer resources as well, both material and spiritual. Affirm your connection to all life forms in the universe. Know that the benefits of your heartfelt wishes and efforts will flow from you into the world.

As you bring the session to a close, visualize Golden Tara receding into her place among the twenty-one emanations. See the whole mandala dissolve into radiant light, which flows into you and merges with your inner light. Dedicate the merit or positive potential generated by the practice to the healing of all beings—with no exceptions.

This is an adapted excerpt from Tara: The Liberating Power of the Female Buddha by Dr. Rachael Wooten.

 

rachael wooten

Rachael Wooten, PhD, is a Zürich—trained Jungian analyst and psychologist who has been in private practice as a therapist for more than 40 years. An enthusiastic interfaith activist, she has studied and practiced in Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and indigenous traditions throughout her adult life.

Rachael has been mentored by spiritual teachers such as her Tibetan root guru Lodrö Tulku Rinpoche and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. She has taught Tara practices under the authorization of Lodrö Rinpoche for more than 20 years. Rachael has offered Tara workshops through the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and C. G. Jung Society of the Triangle. She currently teaches a monthly Tara meditation group at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. To learn more, visit rachaelwootenauthor.com.

 

 

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