Yoginis Yoga

Yoginis Yoga

At the end of September, I went to the Childcare and Education Expo. It is such an amazing place to learn more about EYFS and Primary education. I met some inspirational people, all supporting children to learn in this very important phase of their lives.

I met Susan and Katie at their stand, and was smitten by their book, because as you all know, I believe that there is More to Books than Reading.

It was a pleasure to interview them about their passion.

How did Yoginis Yoga come about?


Yoginis Yoga was born from the shared passion of its founders, Susan Hartley and Katie Brennan, to bring the benefits of yoga and mindfulness to all children regardless of ability or socio economic background.
Having taught for many years in nurseries and schools we have been able to reach all children, not just those who have parents or guardians with an interest in yoga and mindfulness or who can afford to pay for out of school activities. It is important to reach these children who are more likely to experience trauma and as such have reduced higher education and job prospects. We know through neuroscience that yoga and mindfulness techniques can help children to manage the stress response and move beyond survival to the fulfil the higher needs as discussed by maslow of love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation and that such learning before the age of 7 years can have a major impact on a child’s future. All children though can benefit, even the most loved and academically able child will not fulfil their potential if they have a sense of not being good enough or are unable to cultivate the awareness to discover their life purpose.
In our early days of delivering yoga to children (2006ish), we found that the accepted story telling method of delivering yoga was both time consuming to plan and that not all children engaged with this platform especially in educational settings. Both being qualified yoga teachers with the British Wheel of Yoga, we wanted to follow the traditional yoga journey and format to build skills for life in the same way as reading and writing and that this would be achieved through routine, repetition and structure. Over a number of years we developed what is now the Yoginis Yoga scheme of work, this is based around a ‘grab and go pack’ which is a visual timetable that drives the yoga session. It consists of a set structure with interchangeable activities and postures which the children become familiar with and which enables them to feel empowered to take the lead and become the teachers themselves. One of our most exciting moments was seeing a child with additional learning needs spontaneously take the lead and for both himself and his key worker glow with pride as he did so.
A major turning point for Yoginis was when we were asked if we could train teachers and early years practitioners to deliver this themselves and Yoginis Yoga Training was born. We have been delivering our progressive training programme for 4 years and now hundreds of children (ages 2-11) and their coaches who include primary school teaching staff, early years practitioners, sports coaches and childminders benefit from the scheme of work not just in our local area but across the country including the Isle of Man. These key workers are best placed to understand the unique needs of each child and are best placed to bring these skills at the right time and place for best effect to all children in their care. Not only can they deliver a yoga session, they can use their skills to bring focus to learning or to help calm a child.
The book ‘Let’s Go Yoginis’ was a direct request of sorts from the children. Sue or ‘Yoga Sue’ as she is affectionately known (the funniest name we get called is ‘Oga’!!!) was asked by the children if she could please go to their house to teach their parents, for a while we just thought this was adorable and then we began to think how we could achieve this. Enter our book.

Let’s Go Yoginis


I love the book! What do you think your readers learn from the book?

We love books too, there’s nothing quite like the smell of a bookstore or the feeling of a book that has never been opened before, not knowing what wonders might lie within, for me this throws me into mindfulness unconsciously.
There is so much that our readers can and do learn from the book, although it may appear very simple it operates on a number of different levels. Leonardo Da Vinci said that ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. We love this quote. In life so many things are overly complicated and yoga unfortunately is one of these things, one of our key values is to ‘keep it simple’, and it works!.
Children who take part in Yoginis Yoga sessions at nursery or school are able to take home what they have learnt and share it with the wider family, this is an opportunity for us to help break family cycles and so it is important that the book is non threatening and accessible for the whole family. These children can open the book, recognise the image and show their parents how to do it, what we have also found is that children can use it independently to make their own entertainment (as much declining but necessary skill) and to self regulate, this is an important first step in learning to manage their own physical and mental health and wellbeing.
This is also true of children who experience Yoginis Yoga for the first time through the book. Using colourful illustrations and photographs means that even those who cannot read are able to pick up the book and use it. Parents can learn to work with their children, introducing them to the book and its contents but allowing the child to take the lead in what they want to do, it is often tempting to feel we need to teach and lead but true learning happens when the child takes ownership.
As children learn to read they can use the instructions and develop their posture (we never talk about perfecting or similar words as we focus on fun not form, all bodies are different and there is no one right way, this leads to injury and feelings of not being good enough) there are ideas for exploring the posture and questions to encourage curiosity and conversation. Curiosity can be lost after childhood and we hope that this is reignited and that readers can learn to apply curiosity and wonder and take this into other aspects of life.
Children can learn how to use a book, from developing fine motor skills required to turn the pages to using the contents page to find what they are looking for.
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s we appreciated the simple things in life, before phones, social media, a million TV channels and so on. We were the children who played out on the street, engaged in risky play, played family board games and made our own entertainment with a plastic cup and spoon on a beach and we were happy. We don’t want children to learn that every activity needs to be accompanied by high tech graphics and sensory stimulation, boredom arises when the brain searches for stimulation and can’t find it. We want them to learn that when you explore, be curious and use your imagination, boredom ceases to exist and the brain grows.

As you have found Kat, the book isn’t just for kids, adults don’t need to be presented with yoga and mindfulness in complicated ways either. Body awareness is one of the most important things that readers can learn from our book. Body awareness is key to learning and although negative thought patterns that cause mental health problems originate in the brain they are experienced as physical sensations and can be triggered by sensory input so it is important build this awareness and learn to interpret the signals, this is how we have the power to heal ourselves or to know when we need to seek help. Body awareness is achieved through movement and ‘play’ in the postures.
The postures include all movements of the spine so that children learn to keep their spines healthy, a healthy spine protects the nerves of the spinal cord. Tech next is a condition which is affecting young children and causes spinal degeneration and its associated symptoms at a much earlier age.
Breath awareness is introduced in practices which are safe and appropriate for children, they can learn laughing crab, hissing snake and angry cat. The breath is the connection between the body and the mind and helps to calm the nervous system, children can learn to manage their stress response.
The sloth teaches children to be still, to have time alone with their thoughts, out of choice not because the social media network has gone down and they are forced to be with their own thoughts. One of the main reasons for the spike in mental health issues as a result of the pandemic was because people were forced to stop and be with themselves, and a bucket load of issues surfaced, regular checking in with ourselves allows us to deal with these as they arise and resolve more quickly.
Children learn the Yoginis Yoga promise, this is based on kindness. Kindness is the secret to happiness. When we give or receive kindness we are flooded with happy hormones to beat stress and improve wellbeing. Kind Hearts, Kind Words, Kind Thoughts” is an affirmation which plants a seed and manifests in our lives. It also opens up conversations about kindness to self and others and as such is our tool for co and then self-regulation.
Most of all its intention is fun, when we have fun we learn more and are more likely to develop a positive attitude to exercise and wellbeing. Smiling and laughing releases happy hormones and fights the stress hormones, this is cardio protective, increases our wellbeing and connects us with our thinking brain to learn and make good choices.

Yoginis stand at the Childcare and Education Expo in Coventry, Ricoh Arena


And a little bit about your journey…


Our journey, it seems, is less of an all inclusive round the world tour and more of an uphill climb with the odd landslide thrown in to keep us on our toes. What we have come to learn however is that when we are faced with challenges we are constantly reminded about how important the tools that yoga and mindfulness have given us are; resilience, tolerance, awareness, acceptance, kindness amongst others.

Our business is not just a business, it is our life’s purpose and we don’t know what else we would do. Yoga and mindfulness has been in our lives for longer than we have been attending Yoga classes, although that’s a long time as well. We often talk with each other about feeling different to others even as young people, my primary school report described me as an ‘enigma’. Although this upset me at the time and caused me self-doubt I now take pride in this as I know it was just me celebrating my uniqueness and I am happy to be me. Sue now understands that she had undiagnosed learning difficulties and like me was made to doubt herself. What we actually find in each other is a complementary whole, not many people can say that about their business partner.
Our early experiences explain why we feel so strongly about promoting kindness (including to self), celebrating uniqueness and why we keep it simple and focus on fun not form (our mission) and why we bring yoga and mindfulness to children, because this is what saved us and we wish we had these tools as children.
We met in 2007 on our British Wheel of Yoga teacher training course. Sue and I both taught children’s yoga, Sue full time and me part time around my career as an accountant with Greater Manchester Police, we could have been competitors but we both feel that collaboration is better and supported each other. It was when Sue required an operation and I covered her classes that we began to work together more closely having both moved away from story based yoga to more education based delivery. In 2015 my husband sadly lost his battle with cancer and I left my accountancy job as I felt a desire to make a difference. Sue and I have been working as Yoginis Yoga ever since. As a cruel twist of fate Sue’s husband was also diagnosed with cancer and lost his battle around 18 months later in 2019. Covid followed and at times we have thought about giving up but we can’t, it is what we do. We face the challenge, take time to reflect and then we find the things we can be grateful for and find ways to make the best of any situation because we have learnt through experience that you can’t change a situation but you can change how you respond and really that’s what mindfulness is.
Our children are a further testament to the importance of our work. They all lost a parent at an early age but each one is individually amazing in their own way, they are not only high achievers, they are kind, passionate and have emotional intelligence that far outweighs that of most adults. They have experienced the mental health challenges that accompany grief, they are aware and can talk about their feelings and know when to ask for help, they offer support to their friends in a non-judgemental way, but they are also able to set their own boundaries and manage their power, taking time to do the things they need to recharge and are not afraid to walk away from people or situations that deplete them. They have bad days but do not allow these to define them, they embrace life and learning and they aim high, in a word they are resilient.
Every day we wake up, our work varies but our mission is the same to bring the benefits of yoga and mindfulness to all children regardless of ability and socio economic background and not just

because it’s a buzz word of today but because it’s what we’ve always done and it’s simply our purpose.

I follow Yoginis Yoga on Instagram and very much love the affirmation cards they post daily. You can follow them across social media here:
Links
Website http://www.yoginisyoga.uk


Buy the book http://www.yognisyoga.uk/shop-1


Social media @yoginisyoga

Twitter https://twitter.com/yoginisyoga


Insta Yoginis Yoga Training Ltd (@yoginisyoga) • Instagram photos and videos

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/yoginisyoga/


Linked in https://linkedin.com/company/yoginis-yoga-training-ltd

For the chance to feature in this blog, post a picture of you and your child doing a yoga pose! Which ones are your favourite? I, for one, like sloth!

Love Kat x

For last weeks blog on Thinkably and the competition, click on https://moretobooks.blog/2021/10/05/thinkably/

Thinkably

Thinkably

At the end of September, I went to the Childcare and Education Expo which was an amazing event for the Early Years and Primary sector.

There were many great exhibitors and one of the stalls especially caught my eye. I truly believe that ‘There’s More to Books than Reading’ and Thinkably proves that too.

Www.Thinkably.org

Thinkably is a digital library aimed at Early Years and Primary aged children, to help reduce anxiety. They have hard hitting subject matters such as Bullying, Coronavirus, Environmental issues, Extremism, Inclusion, Happiness, Health and activity, Human Rights, Growing up, Mental Health, Racism, Relationships, Slavery, Street Crime, Tech Anxiety and World Wide Issues.

I had the honour of interviewing Dean Horridge CEO and Phil Knight (Chief Creative Officer) about Thinkably.

Thinkably is such an inspirational idea. How did it come about?

Phil Knight said that his son has a friend at nursery who has two dads. When his son came home and asked lots of questions, although Phil tried, he didn’t feel his explanations were quite right. So he wrote a book about two dinosaurs who came across an egg and brought up the baby together. It helped his son to understand better. The Nursery loved the idea and took the book to support all the children to help their understanding. It was in the early hours of the morning, when comforting his son Phil realised that books were a brilliant way to help in other areas, across all subjects, especially with his background of helping explain slavery, anti-terrorism and most recently, making COVID lesson plans.

Phil Knight

I really believe there is More to Books than Reading. What do your readers learn from your books?

Phil Knight said the books help to open their minds. From working in difficult areas around the country, his aim was to help young children understand exploitation. Parents and teachers can read the books about the gangs with the children to help see each other’s point of view, to start the conversation.

When writing the books, Phil realised that it helped when the children fell in love with the characters. The children empathised better with Andy and the Dinosaur when discussing racism.

Dean Horridge CEO

“Thinkably enhances learning with difficult subject matter”

Dean Horridge

I think books bring stories to life, I’d love to know about Thinkablys story, we have heard how it started, where do you see it doing?

“Globally. Having Thinkably all over the world. Children’s anxiety levels are high everywhere and this is concerning for parents. The platform has been adding resources to help extraordinary circumstances families have been facing.

We really want to do something good in the world.” Dean Horridge

Competition

What made me most excited about connecting with Thinkably is the competition they are running at the moment.

It is an amazing opportunity for all our learners but I am excited because it will engage reluctant writers and readers by giving them a purpose and the chance to do something remarkable!

Head to Thinkably.org/story-writing-competition for more details

All they have to do is write 1000 words independently and email to competitions@thinkably.org by the 29th of October.

The winner will get their book published on the Thinkably Platform, receive 50 copies of their own book and get a life time Membership for their family and their school.

The judges are looking for originality, plot, characters and overall enjoyment.

What tips would you give for budding young writers for their stories to stand out?

Phil Knight said that Thinkably are looking for great use of imagination. Whatever your idea is, don’t think that it won’t work! His most recent book ‘The Remarkables’ is based on children he has worked with that have ADHD and autism. There are no boundaries in writing, take it wherever you want it to go.

“Let your imagination run wild”

Phil Knight

“Write what you love and someone will love it“

Phil Knight
(He thinks Quincy Jones might have said that)

Twitter: @thinkably_org

Follow Thinkably on social media

Instagram: thinkably_org

Facebook: Thinkably

I am very happy to tell you that my book, There’s More to Books than Reading has also been published on the Thinkably platform for everyone to read. If you would like a hard copy go to http://www.Moretobooks.com and click on the Amazon link or contact me for a personalised signed copy.

Who is going to enter the competition?

What do your children think their superpower is?

Love Kat x

Banned books

I’d seen that a celebration of banned books was coming up in the diary and thought, oh, the books won’t be relevant to children. How naive I was!

Books have been banned for all sorts of reasons.

James and the giant peach

The giant peach

I was really surprised to see that James and the Giant Peach was on the list so I delved a little deeper. Apparently it was partly banned because of sexual connotations…in which the spider licked her lips…among other things such as being too scary, promoting disobedience etc

Erm…

Harry Potter

Harry’s reaction to the books being banned!

I do vaguely remember Harry Potter being talked about being banned when I was a teen, reading them myself. I find it odd and saddening that it’s possible to censor what we have access to read in this day and age. It was mainly about the witchcraft which was deemed satanic and devil worshipping!

Harry Potter

Sadly, there are a lot of others that are also banned. I think we should celebrate by reading them all now!

The good news is my book has never been banned! Head to http://www.moretobooks.com and click on the Amazon link!

Or contact me for a signed copy.

What do you think about the banning of books?

Love Kat x

Bees!

I am totally one of those people who sees a bee on the floor and pours a little water from my bottle so they can have a drink while talking to them.

Bees are so fluffy, I want to cuddle it!

When talking to children about bees, I always say how important they are and how they would only sting if they are very scared so we have to make sure we don’t scare them as they die if they do sting. (Not like those nasty wasps, they can fly away!)

Beehive at Kew Gardens

More to books…

Are you there little Bee? Usborne book

These books for our littlest ones have bright colours and “peep through” lines that your children can follow with their fingers. This can support early mark-making by giving your child a chance to trace meaning their fine motor skills are being practised.

Why do we need bees? Usborne book

Lift the flap books also help your child with fine motor skills, plus, they are a lot of fun!

Look inside the World of bees by Emily Bone, illustrated by Jean Claude

The next book relates to the beehive at Kew Gardens which has 1000 lights and music in the key of C relating to the vibrations of the bees in the wildflower meadow all around it.

1001 bees by Joanna Rzezak

Did you know, if you eat the honey from local beehives it can help you reduce symptoms of hay fever as they use the pollen of your surrounding area?

Honey also has lots of healing properties and can reduce colds and help sore throats.

Why not have a taste test of different honeys to see which your little ones like best?

Show me your bee related activities!

Love Kat x

Royal Albert Hall

A view from the roof!

As a writer, inspiration comes from anywhere. During lockdown, I would cycle to work up Exhibition Road and along past the Royal Albert Hall.

Every morning and every evening, I’d cycle the hour it took to commute in my own little world, with my own little characters, on their adventures.

While I have been to the Royal Albert Hall before, I felt compelled to come again, post lockdown, to really help my imagination get the words on the paper.

It’s amazing to be here with almost no-one else!

My first time I was here, a new nanny friend had been given tickets for an Orchestral concert to Harry Potter (the second one- ps I hate snakes)

Sitting in the bar before the show, my lovely new friend ordered a bottle of pink Prosecco to which we thought we’d have to squirrel down quickly as we weren’t sure if we could take the bottle into the auditorium. When asking the bar staff, they said “it depends on your tickets” To our surprise, we were in a box, and therefore very welcome to take our bottle in. We also got lots of Harry Potter freebies!

Before the show of Harry Potter, with a real life orchestra playing.
I may have been super happy with the situation 😅

I would like to thank Andy for the wonderful tour, and answering my weird questions which out of context definitely make me sound a little crazy. I have also bought a new Royal Albert Hall note book to scribble down all my new found facts and ideas!

More to books…

So until my book comes out, why not check out this book as there really is #moretobooks than reading when it’s a fold- out history book!

Music by Nicholas O’Neill and Susan Hayes, illustrated by Ruby Taylor

Love Kat x

London

As restrictions are easing and museums are opening, being a nanny in London, I wanted to share my love for London with you all, through…you guessed it…books!

There is so much to do in London, and even if you’re not living here, your little ones can learn about it through pages.

For our older readers, The Story of London by Rob Lloyd Jones goes from the Romans to now. If you do live here, I really recommend the Museum of London.
For our little ones, this lovely visual hard book by Jane Foster depicts iconic London things.
Without being in London, you can create a mini city with your Lego bricks with this amazing book by Warren Elsmore, there really is #moretobooks when you can create iconic London things in your own home.
Or for our little ones, find things in this visual “search,find,match” book illustrated by Marion Billet.

However, if you’re lucky enough to live here or visit…

This clipboard by Erik Nash and illustrated by Clair Rossiter can bring London to life and keep boredom at bay, while learning at the same time.

I rarely share books for adults but these will help you bring learning to life with your children by sharing walks and things to do.

Jimi Famirewa has described all the amazing things to do in London and categorises them for your little ones to your big ones taking the guess work away.
My family love walking. With this book, you can take your children around London bringing history to life but also showing there is #moretobooks by seeing places from books and films in the city. Becky Jones and Claire Lewis have done all the hard work for you.
Maybe one to do as a family, this journal has pictures to colour in and activities to do. Might be fun!

What’s your favourite thing to do in London?

Love Kat x

Alice

I went to an exhibition in the V and A!

It was amazing to be back in a museum, mask and sanitiser at the ready!

I was excited to fall down a rabbit hole of my own in to the wonderful world Lewis Carroll created.

Something I didn’t know is that Lewis Carroll isn’t his real name. I don’t know how this little nugget of information passed by me but he actually translated his first and middle names into Latin and then switched them over. It made me wonder what my pen name might be, Kathryn is just Catherine so I am now Lord Elizabeth aka Dominus Suspendisse!

The exhibition did have questions for children and it was magical, but I’d say it’s not for really little children. There is a paper trail and rabbits for them to look out for.
Visually, the exhibition is stunning.
And there are moving art installations throughout.
My favourite part was the VR. I fell down the rabbit hole, drank potions, played croquet with hedgehogs and grew so tall I could see over the gardens and roof tops.
It was social distanced and they made sure everything was very clean but it did mean there was a bit of a queue. But worth it for your older children!

The most amazing thing I got from the exhibition is that Lewis Carroll or rather Charles Lutwidge Dobson was that his stories he told inspired art, music, theatre, fashion, film decade after decade!

Fashion from Vogue
Japanese fashion
This is actually a sculpture and not intended to be worn.

More to books…

For the little ones, why not learn how to count with the White Rabbit?
Enjoy the story with Helen Oxenbury’s gorgeous drawings.
Or the crazy drawings by Chris Riddell!
This is a shorter version adapted by Lewis himself, for our younger readers.
This book is quotes from Alice and the other characters. I find it fascinating when authors manage to write sentences that become known and loved!
Bring the story to life with this story box!
There is definitely more to books when you can solve puzzles.

Who is your favourite character in Alice in Wonderland?

Love Kat x

Cruella

At the end of Portobello Road, the street was shut off for filming. At the time I was working not far from there and my Dad came to visit. (Before lockdown obviously)

Being bold and brave, my Dad asked the security men what they were filming, to be told it was a baked bean commercial, to which I think he was pretty happy with.

When the filming wrapped up, I had to nip into the laundrettes that had been shut for the filming. The lovely gentlemen that worked in there then told me it was, you guessed it, CRUELLA.

So I had to take my Dad back to the scene of the baked bean commercial!

The film is a 12a which means you can take younger children to it. While it’s not scary as such, there is violence and death themes running through but then those themes run in Lion King too? It’s a very clever movie with twists so I suppose it’s down to the child. I think upper key stage 2 would love it.

Hello, Cruel heart by Maureen Johnson (photo credit- Amazon.com)

Wow! That’s all I can say. Wow! Well, I’m going to say more than that but I think Cruella has moved into the spot of my new favourite movie. But the thing is, I always believe that books are better than movies so here we are.

There really is #moretobooks than Reading and clearly, there is #moretocruella!

What also was magnificent was I paid £18 for VIP tickets and my old haunt, Burnley Reel Cinema, where both my Dad and I got orange juice, water, pop, Kit Kat’s, popcorn AND ICE CREAM. I’m pretty sure it would have cost more than £18 for all that, never mind the cinema tickets. So I suppose, get it while it’s hot!?

The stuff we didn’t eat in the cinema!
VIP seats!

It’s so good to be getting out and doing things, abiding by Covid rules. I am inspired by doing things, and I can’t wait for next weeks blog on Alice and Wonderland, just you wait!

Love Kat x

Beano at Kew Gardens

If you go down to the gardens today, you’re in for a big surprise. There are no bears, but Beano is having a birthday party.

I do feel like there’s more to books than reading, but there is also more to reading than books. The National Curriculum states that children should read a wide variety of reading material, so recipe books, newspapers, leaflets, websites and COMICS!

Beano

I also find that comic magazines and annuals support our children who are reluctant readers.

I even like books with no words as the child can use their own vocabulary to tell you what is happening. These types of books/magazines can help your child develop an imagination which helps in small world play.

Onomatopoeia! Don’t forget your exclamation marks!

Encourage word play and design by drawing the “sound” words as how they might look, like the word ‘pop’ in a balloon (with a pin nearby) or ‘crash’ with a dust cloud around. Here is where clip art comes in handy if they are on the computer.

Joke books are also a wonderful form of reading, not only does it give us a giggle, it reinforces when to use question marks and the child can learn the “question” words: did, when, where, what, how, why, do etc
I love playing with words.
Science- mirrors

If you do get to go to Kew Gardens, there is a trail of lots of fun things to see and do.

This is not Beano, but might get your little ones excited to do some purposeful screen time with their own toys, a Malaysian photographer has used forced perspective to make it look like he is interacting with his superhero miniature figures.

https://mymodernmet.com/wire-hon-forced-perspective-photography/

Alternatively, let them set up their toys, take a picture and print them for your children to add their speech bubbles to to make their own personalised comic book.

It’s also easier for some children to write in speech bubbles than in long paragraphs so use it as a writing opportunity. They still need capital letters, sentence structure and punctuation.

Head to the Beano website for lots of fun and games.https://www.beano.com/

Beano magazines are available on subscription to land on your doorstep or you can get digital copies.

What comics or magazines did you read when you were little?

Show us your little one’s with their favourite magazine!

Love Kat x

Guinness World Records

A little email dropped today.

Funnily enough, my nanny child, G8 was reading her Guinness World Record book the other week.

Why not hold your own World Records?

Use the book or the website, to see what crazy things people have been up to and do your own?

Can you make the biggest pizza you’ve ever made?

Count who has the most teddies? Which kind of teddy do you have the most of?

Who can eat the most <insert food of your choice> in 30 seconds?

Walk further than you ever have before!

Guinness World Records 2021

Show me your World Record attempts!

Why not make your own certificates for the whole family? Everyone is great at something!

Love Kat x