Lindsay Bayer

Children's Author, Child/Family Yoga Instructor, Curriculum Developer, Education Consultant

"STaRT" and "Fist Squeeze Art" to Handle Anger and Difficult Feelings

At Yoga & Story Time this month we discussed how to use yoga to handle intense feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment. In this class, children and their caregivers specifically learned:

  1. How deep breathing can help us become clearer to make better choices 
  2. How to move in ways that are helpful instead of harmful 
  3. and Ways to turn MAD energy into CREATIVE energy

To begin, we read the book Emily's Tiger which is a sweet, multi-generational story about how a grandmother helps her granddaughter relax to handle her outbursts and frustrations. You can learn more about this adorable book and order it here. 

After reading, the families learned a simple word we to remember when feelings of anger or frustration begin to bubble up: STaRT.

STaRT stands for: Stop, Take A deep breath, Relax, and Twist.

STaRT Sheet.jpg

We learned several twisting yoga poses because twisting creates more space in the body. This space allows our breath and our energy to flow better to give us an emotional lift. Twisting also allows us to look in different directions. When we see the world from different angles and perspectives, we can often get a different perspective on whatever is making us mad or upset. One of the twisting poses we practiced was the reclined belly twist. This is a great one to practice after you STOP, TAKE A DEEP BREATH, and RELAX!

After some twisting yoga, we practiced a combination deep breathing and art activity called FIST SQUEEZE ART. With a sheet of paper in our hands we made tight fists, putting all of our energy tightly into our hands (and the paper). Then we took a deep breath, and when we exhaled, we unclenched our fists and relaxed. Next, we took the crumpled paper and opened it up, noticing all of its bumps and crinkles. We talked about how all of the fist-squeezing energy just went into that piece of paper and how, when we're feeling really angry, we can do this exercise to transfer the mad energy from our bodies into the paper.


We then took some time to turn our crumpled paper into something beautiful. Each child colored in the shapes, lines, and squiggles that were made on the paper. Kids were encouraged to make their paper look however they wanted: some used bright and cheerful colors, others created realistic drawings, and some made designs that made them feel calm and peaceful. It was a great way to learn how to turn red-hot energy into calm and creative energy.


If you missed this fun and helpful class and want to learn more ways to use yoga to handle big emotions, email me at I'm happy to share more poses, activities, and resources for your home or classroom.

And don't forget to sign up for our next FREE family yoga class celebrating Cinco De Mayo! Click here for all the details and to register.

Poses for Creativity and SO MUCH More!

Thanks to everyone that came to our CREATIVITY YOGA & STORY TIME class in January. We read “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds and learned how to use yoga to spark our own imaginations and inspire creativity in our daily lives.  Many of the poses we practiced offer multiple benefits including being open to trying new things, inspiring confidence, and calming the mind and body during times of frustration. Here are some of the poses we practiced, along with their benefits and times that you might want to try them:




Reminds children that they can open themselves up to try new things. Helpful to practice when kids are reluctant to try something new.


Downward-Facing Dog

This pose increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and energizes the mind and body. Being upside down also allows kids to see the world in a different way, which helps them get a new perspective on a situation. Helpful to practice when kids are feeling "stuck" and need new ideas.


Washing Machine

The twisting motion is naturally calming and soothing to kids. Perfect to try when kids get frustrated or need some redirection. They can also SLOWLY spin in a circle for the same effect.

goddess pose.jpg


This pose inspires strength and confidence. Helpful to practice when kids need a self-esteem boost.

open heart 1.jpg

Open Heart

This pose allows adults to show children support and encouragement. Good to try when kids ask for your help or if they're feeling alone.

If you missed CREATIVITY YOGA & STORY TIME, there's an easy way to get your hands on the class lesson plan to do it right at home! Click here to get the CREATIVITY YOGA & STORY TIME LESSON PLAN! It includes all class components: warm-up activity, poses instructions, process artwork game instructions/printables, materials list, book recommendations, and a soothing final relaxation! This plan and many more are available at the lindsaybayerdotnet store so even if you miss a class, you can bring it right into your own home!


We had so many awesome super-kids in our August SUPERHERO Yoga & Story Time classes.  We learned the rules of being a superhero, like helping others and overcoming obstacles, and even made our own superhero shields!  But the best part (in my opinion) was teaching sun salutations with a superhero twist! 


If you missed this class, or just want a refresher on how we transformed this flow, here are the prompts:

  1. Look up to the sky to check for villains.  Reach your arms up over your head, bringing your palms together.
  2. Look down to check on the city.  Swan dive your arms down as you bend from the waist and place your hands on your shins or on the floor in forward fold.
  3. You see a villain!  Stretch out and fly!  Place your hands on the floor and step back into plank pose.
  4. Swoop to chase the villain.  Bend your elbows to slowly bring your body to the floor, then lift your upper body with your arms in cobra pose.
  5. Put the villain in a trap.  Curl your toes under and bring your hips up high into the sky in downward-facing dog; you will look like an upside-down V.
  6. Walk the villain to the police station.  Take small slow steps to bring your feet to your hands, ending up in another forward fold.
  7. Relax, knowing the city is safe.  Stand up slowly, bringing your hands to your heart in prayer position.

The class was so much fun.  If you missed it, we've got more fun planned in September at NATURE Yoga & Story Time.  Click here for more information and to register!

'Back to School Yoga Plan for Families and Educators' Available Now!

A new school year is an exciting time with buying school supplies, meeting new teachers, and reuniting with friends.  But this time of year can often lead to several other experiences for students: hitting the snooze button one too many times, running late, trudging through the morning with little energy, getting jittery before a pop quiz, feeling overwhelmed by homework, and not getting restful sleep.  Uggg. 

From speaking with many parents and teachers over the years, I know so many adults are eager to help children use the opportunity of a new school year to form healthy and confidence-building habits.  That's why I developed this comprehensive 'Back to School' yoga lesson plan for families and educators.  The activities outlined in this plan were designed to help parents, caregivers, and teachers use yoga techniques at transitional times throughout the school day in order to replace overwhelm with positive energy and confidence.  This plan includes Pose Cards, Printables, Activities, and Relaxation Techniques for families and
classrooms that offers:

*Energizing Yoga Poses to Get Moving in the Morning
*Deep Breathing Exercises to Help with Focus and Concentration
*After-School Yoga Poses to Relax and Release
*Nighttime Activities to Promote Confidence and Peace

Each component of this plan includes step-by-step pose instructions and scripts so you'll know exactly what to say to instruct your children or students.  There are even actual photos (of my own sweet little girl) to help you out as well.  You'll get this complete 27-page comprehensive lesson plan for only $4.50!  This gives you the ability to download the plan, so you can return to it again and again.

I can't wait to hear stories of happy mornings, calm after-school times, and peaceful nights of sleep during the 2017-18 school year!

Zoo Yoga Recap and the Yoga & Story Time "Caring Journal"

Thanks to all the families that attended our July Yoga & Story Time classes all about the ZOO!  We focused a lot on moving like zoo animals (of course, it’s a zoo yoga class, right?!), but we also focused a lot on compassion. 

The book we read was A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead.  Amos goes to the city zoo on the 6am bus every morning to care for his animal friends.  But when Amos is sick, the tables turn and it’s the animals’ turn to care for him.  I love this book because of its beautiful illustrations (illustrator Erin Stead received a Caldecott Medal for this book) and its beautiful message: that true friends take care of each other.


In class we practiced breathing deeply like birds and lions and learned various yoga poses inspired by our story, including:

  • Rhinoceros (Mountain Pose with hands at heart center – the rhino horn – taking the arms slowly up overhead)
  • Sitting with a Penguin (Chair Pose)
  • Tea at the Table (Table Pose) while we tried balancing actual cups and plates on our backs and bellies

But one of my favorite parts of this class was having each child and adult fill out a journal page where they jotted down ways to care for themselves and ways to care for others.  Families shared some AWESOME ideas, including:

I can show others I care by:

  • Helping friends when they are struggling
  • Giving hugs
  • Giving someone a Band-Aid
  • Taking someone breakfast when they are sick
  • Giving someone a compliment
  • Being kind

I can care for myself by:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Getting lots of rest
  • Dressing myself
  • Taking deep breaths
  • Drinking water
  • Doing yoga

I love these responses because they reinforce some of the main objectives of all Yoga & Story Time classes: that children will learn the importance of self-care (through active play, deep breathing, and relaxation) and how to care for their families and caregivers (through activities that promote bonding, cooperation, and trust). 

All of the responses we received in our classes will be compiled in a “Caring Journal” that will travel with me to all future Yoga & Story Time classes.  The next time you come to class, take a look at the journal and discuss the different ways your child can show care and compassion for themselves and others.

You can view the “Caring Journal” at our next Yoga & Story Time sessions in August, which are all about SUPERHEROS!  We will learn a yoga sequence that will help us have super strength, super balance, and super power!  Click on the sessions below to get more information and register!

Sat. Aug. 26 in Pekin at 1pm

Mon. Aug. 28 in Galesburg at 10am

Mon. Aug. 28 in Galesburg at 5:30pm


Ocean Yoga Recap AND "Deep Breathing Jellyfish" Craft

Thanks to everyone that came out in the unseasonably cool June temperatures to join us for OCEAN YOGA!  If you missed it, here’s a quick recap of the fun we had becoming various ocean creatures from the book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell.   We learned:


We also completed an ocean-themed craft that actually served as a tool to practice deep breathing.  If you missed this class, here are the simple materials and instructions to make DEEP BREATHING JELLYFISH:


  • Paper plate
  • Scissors
  • Various colored party streamers or pieces of ribbon
  • Scotch tape     
  • Stick on googly eyes (optional)
  • Markers or crayons



  1. Cut your paper plate in half.
  2. Cut your streamers or ribbon into foot-long strips.  5-6 strips should be plenty.
  3. Using the scotch tape, affix the streamers or ribbon to the lower back of the paper plate along the edge you cut.  Attach them side-by-side to make the jellyfish tentacles.
  4. Flip the plate over and attach the googly eyes or draw on eyes with a marker.
  5. Use the marker to make any other facial features you’d like.  We made smiles, eyebrows, and even glasses!
  6. Holding your jellyfish in front of your face, take a deep breath in through your nose.  As you blow out through your mouth, see if you can make the tentacles dance with the breeze you’re creating.  Try to make them sway very gently with your nice, deep, strong breath.

We had a great time creating our jellyfish and an even better time making them sway with our deep breathing.

Next month, Yoga & Story Time is all about THE ZOO!  We will move our bodies, use our imaginations, and even practice making zoo animal sounds!  ZOO YOGA & STORY TIME will be on July 29th at 1pm at YOGA HAPPENS HERE in Pekin and on July 31st at 10am and 5:30 pm at THE PATH CENTER FOR HEALING in Galesburg. 

Contact me to pre-register for this class that’s sure to have us moving and laughing!


The Magic of the Bio-Mat

The Bio-Mat.  It truly is a magical thing.  I’ve known this for a long time because when my husband and I went out to Colorado to visit his aunt and stay at her home/yoga studio in 2011, I practically spent every available moment on the thing.  We enjoyed our experience using the Bio-Mat so much that we bought one for ourselves not even two months later.

What is a Bio-Mat, you ask?  Well, it’s basically a body-length heating pad that can be placed upon a massage table, a mattress, or just directly on the floor.  Apart from that, I can’t really tell you what it does…but luckily the Bio-Mat Co. can!  Their website states:

(The Bio-Mat) converts electricity through an EMI device (Electromagnetic Interceptor), which then passes through a computerized control panel with 9 variable heat settings, into Far Infrared Rays (FIR), and Negative Ions. These two components, Negative Ions and Far Infrared Rays, are transferred through Amethyst Quartz channels which cover the entire surface of the BioMat. Amethyst also produces naturally occurring far infrared waves. These frequencies penetrate 6 inches into the innermost recesses of the body, stimulating the healing process. This Supports the Immune System and aides the body in reducing inflammation, increases blood flow and tissue oxygenation and promotes relaxation and a restful sleep. This accelerates and deepens all healing processes.

Simple, right?  All I know is that using the Bio-Mat makes me feel goooooood.

Fast forward to the present day.  Said aunt from the beginning of this tale is now operating a yoga studio in Pekin, IL, and has brought the trusty Bio-Mat with her.  I have continued using our home Bio-Mat regularly since purchasing it, and it’s still in excellent shape.  But I think I took this magic-machine for granted until the past few weeks.  Here’s why:

I have a pretty steady home yoga practice and mix up my workout routine with a couple of weekly cardio sessions.  But recently I started to add strength training to my routine as well.  Nothing crazy - I’m sure not anywhere close to being one of those CrossFit peeps (whom I admire intensely) – because even mild strength training was ambitious enough for me.  In the midst of this change in my workout routine, being less than diligent about listening to my body during a hectic stretch of time, and traveling on an airplane (which I think really pushed me over the edge), I really messed up my hamstring.  I mean REALLY.  One morning my poor husband found me grimacing to put on pants.  And these weren’t even jeans.  They were, like, baggy MC Hammer pajama pants.  (Yes, I sleep in MC Hammer pants.  #noshameinmygame.)

The morning after my fight with my pants, I decided to do some yoga to try to work out my hammy a bit more.  But I made one slight change.  Instead of rolling out my regular yoga mat, I flipped the switch on our Bio-Mat and rolled it out directly on the floor.  I started on my feet with warm-ups and standing poses before going into some modified flows when the mat was really warmed up.  And I’m telling you, after 30 minutes of a slow and steady yoga practice on the Bio-Mat at the highest heat setting: pain…nearly gone.  Range of motion…a bazillion percent better (that’s a real statistic, right?).  Soreness the rest of the day…barely noticeable.  This is after ONE mini session on this thing!

I’ve since done my yoga practice a couple times per week directly on the Bio-Mat and my hamstring is back to normal.  Not only does Bio-Mat yoga help me with pre-existing discomforts, but it helps me deepen various postures and assists with post-session relaxation and integration.  I really wish I’d been doing this for years as I think back to all the minor pains and discomforts I’ve had to overcome without the Bio-Mat’s assistance.

Yoga-ing it up right on the Bio-Mat.  #bigfoot

Yoga-ing it up right on the Bio-Mat.  #bigfoot

While my hamstring injury wasn’t severe (and I’m certainly not claiming it will cure you of all that ails you), I do believe my leg would have hurt a heck of a lot longer without the Bio-Mat.  And my husband loves the thing as much as I do.  While he hasn’t had to use it to recuperate from an injury, he does use it to recuperate from the everyday stress of people being jerks at the grocery store or having to wait 15 minutes in his car for a passing train.  So our usual evening routine is one of us puts our daughter to bed, the other uses the Bio-Mat…then we switch the next night.   

Now…why am I telling you all of this?  Well, for one, you can go out and buy yourself your own personal Bio-Mat (or just learn more about them) by contacting Paula at YOGA HAPPENS HERE in Pekin (  BUT, if you’re a student (or a prospective student) of YOGA HAPPENS HERE, you actually have a Bio-Mat available to you!  Paula offers Bio-Mat relaxation for one student on a rotating basis during her regular yoga classes AND she also offers private Bio-Mat sessions during non-class hours.  A private 25 min. Bio-Mat session is only $15! 

I know many of Paula’s students are Bio-Mat believers as I am, so contact her for a session to see what all the hoopla is really about: or 309-282-6112.

Food Yoga Recap and Rice Jar Giveaway!

April featured one of my favorite yoga themes (and really one of my favorite topics in life): FOOD!  We read THE LITTLE MOUSE, THE RED RIPE STRAWBERRY, AND THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR which is an adorable and pretty quick read.  If you get this book, be prepared for multiple readings in one sitting!  We then transformed ourselves through yoga to become various characters and foods from the book.  Click on the poses below to see how we became:

It's really fun rocking and rolling when transitioning from Strawberry to Bear...try it!

We also worked with partners to share, imagined the delight of eating something very yummy (which we demonstrated by basically giving ourselves great big hugs!), and relaxed as the book ended.  We read the book at the beginning of class, then again after learning the poses so we could practice each posture as it was mentioned in the story.

Everyone was REALLY into the book!

Everyone was REALLY into the book!

Our yoga game was also very fun.  I made some rice jars with tiny charms hidden inside.  Each child/adult team had to find the hidden charms (which were shaped like tiny strawberries, knives, mice, etc.) in the sea of rice, then perform the pose that corresponded with the charm.  It took lots of patience, concentration, perseverance, and a good memory to find all the items, but I think all our teams completed the challenge!

Searching for the charms inside the rice jars

Searching for the charms inside the rice jars

I actually have 6 FOOD YOGA RICE JARS available for anyone who wants them!  If you missed the class and want to try this game OR if you would like to practice this game again at home, simply CONTACT ME and I'll give a jar to you!  If you're a regular, I'll pass on a jar to you at our next class.  If you need it sent to you, I may ask for a small fee just to cover shipping.

Happy reading and happy moving!


Calming Galaxy Bottles for SPACE YOGA

I'm sure you've seen tutorials for DIY calming jars and glitter bottles floating around Pinterest.  I've made these for Stella since she was a baby and, after a particularly long day, I find myself shaking them up and watching the glitter fall right alongside her.  They really are relaxing!

So when I stumbled upon this tutorial for DIY Nebula Jars, I knew I wanted to incorporate something like this to use during SPACE YOGA.  So, after a few modifications, Stella and I came up with our own variation at the kitchen sink yesterday: CALMING GALAXY BOTTLES.

If you're joining us for SPACE YOGA, you'll get to see the ones we made in person.  If you can't make it or if you want to make your own to bring to class, I've included instructions!  Just click the image below:

And…if you want a sneak peek of the book we're reading for our SPACE class, take a gander at SPACE BOY by Leo Landry.

This post may contain affiliate links, but I only link to products I recommend and have tried/used myself.

Evening Y&ST Classes and New Age Guidelines

I've had SO MANY people ask me if I would ever do an evening Yoga & Story Time class in Galesburg for working families.  I totally understand this request and never meant to exclude working families when we started Y&ST at The Path.  In fact, it was BECAUSE I'm a working parent myself that I couldn't readily accommodate this request.  My schedule with writing, consulting projects, teaching, mom-ing and wife-ing only gave me a slim window to teach in Galesburg (which just happened to be monthly on Monday mornings).  But I have some work projects that are winding down and feel that I can now commit to holding monthly evening sessions as well!  The evening classes will be on the same day and same location (the beautiful Path Center for Healing) at 5:30pm.

I've also had multiple people ask about age recommendations for Y&ST classes.  I initially developed these classes for preschool-aged children because, well, I'm the mom of a preschooler.  But I've done yoga with Stella since she was a wee babe and I'm certified to teach yoga to prenatal moms, children, and teens.  I've also had classes with children of many different ages in Pekin.  I think I once had a 10-month-old and a 10-year-old in the same class.  And guess what?  They both enjoyed it!  Because I think children of all stages of development could benefit from Y&ST, we are opening the classes to children of all ages.  I will offer age-appropriate modifications depending on your child's age and abilities.  While the classes probably wouldn't be great for infants or pre-crawlers (due to the amount of activity), toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children should find Y&ST to be a blast!

Our first evening Y&ST class will be March 27 at 5:30pm.  Of course you can also register for the same day at 10amClick here for more info on those classes.  I hope to see you and your child soon for some yoga fun!

SNOWga Recap AND More Ideas Based on our SNOWga Books

Even if you DID come to one of January’s SNOWga classes, there will be some NEW ideas in this post because we read different books in our Galesburg and Pekin classes.  Our Pekin crew enjoyed Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner and our Galesburg friends got to know Ladybug Girl as we read Jacky Davis and David Soman’s Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow.

So this post is for you if:

  • You came to a class and want to discover the other book we read at the opposite class
  • You want some supplemental activities to the book that we read in your class
  • You couldn’t make it to a class and want some ideas do try at home
  • You’re at all interested in at-home activities to do with your child
  • You’re at all interested in family yoga
  • You’re a breathing human (Just kidding…kinda.)

We practiced many of the same SNOWga poses in both our Snowmen at Night and Ladybug Girl classes, including:

  1. Snow scooping (where we sat in staff pose, then pretended to use our hands to shovel the deep snow and bury our legs in it) -  This was a great warm up to stimulate blood flow and start heating up our bodies.
  2. Sledding (modified cobra pose where we bobbed up and down as we avoided pretend tree branches)
  3. Snowball Sled (upward plank pose where we tested whether or not we could roll a small ball down each of our slides)

We practiced these poses and then made our own snowman craft, followed by some “Hot Chocolate Breathing” and a snowy final relaxation. 

My Stella came to our Galesburg class (she was sick during the Pekin session), so she enjoyed Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow. After class she wanted to do some Ladybug Girl artwork, so I headed to my trusty Pinterest page where I had compiled some fun Ladybug Girl activities.  We immediately made the Potato Stamp ladybugs that afternoon and then re-read Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow before repeating the poses we learned for my husband to see that evening. 

That led me to look for some additional Snowmen at Night activities for those that enjoyed that book at our Pekin session.  You can find those ideas HERE.  Stella and I are planning to do the fun “dressed-up” Play-Dough snowmen after reading the book and trying the SNOWga poses again.

So…all of this to say, the fun doesn’t have to stop when you roll up your yoga mats at the end of Yoga & Story Time.   One of the (many) reasons that we read a book together during our classes is because moving through different yoga poses based on the book actually helps children remember and better connect with the story.  Yoga helps them re-tell and become part of the story in their own special way.  The story becomes more personal…it becomes theirs.  This connection can also happen when you pair a book with a supplemental craft or game (such as the ones listed on the Pinterest boards I’ve linked).  So try some of these ideas and review the poses at home that you and your little one tried in class.  Kids can further experience the characters and ideas presented in books…even when they are closed and back up on the shelf.

*This post does contain affiliate links, but only to products that I've used myself and would recommend to others.

SNOWga Sneak Peek: Hot Chocolate Breathing Exercise

For those that have already signed up for January SNOWGA, I can’t wait to see you in just a few days!  For those that haven’t yet registered, here’s a little sneak peek of one of the breathing exercises we will be practicing:


“Hot Chocolate Breathing”

What it is: This is a simple exercise related to something that many kids have experienced before…waiting for a mug of hot chocolate to cool.  You can practice this using imaginary hot chocolate OR practice with a real hot drink (with adult supervision, of course…no burning tongues!).

What to say:  Let’s pretend that we’ve just come inside after playing in the snow, and we are FREEZING!  So let’s make some imaginary hot chocolate.  We’ll mix the cocoa and hot milk in our favorite mug.  Let’s pretend to feel the warm mug in our hands and imagine steam rising from the top.  It’s probably too hot to drink, right?  So let's blow on it to cool it down.  With our mouths closed, let’s breathe in until we have slowly filled our bellies with air.  Now let’s hold the breath for a moment before we gently blow out the air on top of the liquid to cool down our drink.  Let’s do this three more times until our hot chocolate is cool.  Then we can take a big SLURP!

Why it’s helpful: This exercise teaches children “belly breathing” which is incredibly calming and focusing. Often when children and adults get excited, nervous, or upset, we engage in shallow breathing that only makes us more and more stimulated and anxious.  But belly breathing actually triggers a natural relaxation response that slows us down in order to make better decisions, focus our minds, and relax our bodies.  Practicing this technique through a game like “hot chocolate breathing” helps kids learn this technique in a more relaxed state. Once they have the feel of this breath and are comfortable doing it on their own, they can then apply it in times of anxiety. This game is basically a way to practice for the stressful times (which will inevitably come) when the breath will be useful.


Yoga & Story Time classes always feature a story, movement, games AND breathing exercises.  Teaching children to create calm, focus, and relaxation within themselves is one of the greatest gifts adults can offer...and it's important that we model that for children as well.  So I hope you'll share the "Hot Chocolate Breathing" with the children in your life AND practice it yourself when you need a little bit of calm too!

Holiday Special: $20 Yoga & Story Time Gift Certificate for ONLY $15!


Happy Holidays from Yoga & Story Time!  To celebrate the season, we're offering a special through 12/31/16.  Purchase a $20 gift certificate for 2017 classes for ONLY $15!  To take advantage of this special, email me at and include:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • # of certificates you'd like to purchase (5 max. per customer)

After I receive your email, I will send you a link to provide your payment.  Once payment is processed I will email your certificates.  They can be redeemed at either Yoga Happens Here or The Path Center for Healing for any 2017 classes.

I'm only offering this special through the end of the month, so don't delay to save on your 2017 classes!

$20 Gift Cards for $15 through 12/31/16!

$20 Gift Cards for $15 through 12/31/16!

2017 Workshop Dates Announced

Happy Holidays, everyone!  While I hope you're all enjoying the last days of the year, I'm knee-deep in preparing for yoga workshops in 2017!  Here are all of the Yoga & Story Time dates (for both Pekin and Galesburg) for the upcoming year.  We've got some great themes lined up and I hope you can join me for as many as possible.  Mark your calendars now, and email me at if you'd like to register for January's session.

Pekin, IL classes for 2017

Pekin, IL classes for 2017

Galesburg, IL classes for 2017

Galesburg, IL classes for 2017

Books & Poses for Snack Time Yoga

DISCLAIMER: the yoga discussed in this post has the likelihood to make you extremely hungry. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

July’s Yoga and Story Time classes were very food focused. In addition to reading the book FAT CAT  by Margaret Read MacDonald (which explores the comical items that a very hungry cat gobbles up), participants focused on transforming their bodies into different types of snacks through yoga poses. While the book we read was focused on the overall act of eating, there are so many great picture books that are quite pose-specific.

Outlined below is a sampling of some food-focused poses we practiced, along with books that would be a great accompaniment to each pose. See if you can find these books at your local library or head on over to, then read and practice the complementary pose - maybe close to your child’s snack time!

YOGA PIES (Staff Pose Variation)

READ: FAT CAT is the book we used in class. It features a busy mouse that makes 35 pies, and a hungry cat that eats them all! HOW TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE AND SEE THE WORLD  is another great option that takes readers on a global adventure and also includes a pie recipe.

PLAY: In this activity, you’ll start in traditional staff pose but you’ll need to imagine that there’s a shelf above your head with all the ingredients you need to make a pie and at your ankles is a big mixing bowl. Have your child name an ingredient that’s needed for the pie (apples, peaches, pecans, sugar, flour, etc.). Inhale and reach your arms up, imagining that you’re grabbing the ingredient from the shelf. Then exhale and bend at the hips, reaching down to deposit the ingredient into the imaginary mixing bowl. Repeat for all the ingredients you can think of, ending by grabbing an imaginary spoon and stirring all the ingredients in the imaginary bowl. 

Here are some friends below making their yoga pies:

YOGA BANANAS (Standing Side Bend)

READ:  BANANAS IN MY EARS is not a book exclusively about bananas, but it is a great book of nonsense poetry that kids and adults will treasure. For Richard Scarry fans, his book FLOATING BANANAS is another great option, but I believe this book may be a bit difficult to get your hands on…so check your library!

PLAY:  To become bananas, we simply modify the traditional side bend  by “peeling” one arm down to our sides, then reaching over with the raised arm. Then we bring our “bananas” back together, before peeling the other side. 

This photo gives you a better idea:

YOGA POPCORN (Mountain, to Chair, to Star)

READ: THE POPCORN BOOK is not only written by one of my favorite children’s authors, Tomie de Paola, but is also a wonderful and engaging nonfiction picture book that investigates one of my all-time favorite snacks.

PLAY: Starting in mountain pose, inhale and bend your knees coming into chair pose.  Instead of bringing your arms overhead in chair, bring your palms together in front of your chest. Then, as you exhale, pop your body out into star pose and jump your legs back together in mountain. Then repeat 3-5 times.

When you "pop" it will look like this:

This "snack time" class was so much fun and featured more fun poses and food-themed games.  We now have TWO class options in Central Illinois, so click here to join us for an upcoming session and email to register!

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Yoga, Baby!

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to combine three things that I love so much into one really cool new adventure: teaching, children’s literature, and yoga.

Last month I began teaching child and family yoga workshops at a great studio in Pekin, Illinois called YOGA HAPPENS HERE. In these workshops I lead preschoolers and their parents/caregivers in yoga games and activities centered on children’s literature. Each book offers unique opportunities for movement, so every workshop will feature a new story that kids will love. Sessions will also offer parents suggestions on how to incorporate yoga into their child’s day to promote relaxation and focus.

I’ve practiced yoga for a while now, but became certified to teach kids in May of 2015. I loved my training in instructing small groups of children and coordinating this new yoga curriculum (which is another passion of mine). The workshops are for kids ages 3-5, but we will be adding more age groups in the future. If you’re in the Pekin area, please check it out or email me at for more information.

If you aren’t in the area (or even if you are and want more information), here are some great books and resources about incorporating yoga in your home or classroom:

“Itsy Bitsy Yoga”  by Helen Garabedian– My husband and I were greatly influenced by this book after we had our daughter. The postures in this book were not only promoted as being good for babies, but were presented as opportunities for bonding. We found that the moves and routines were not only wonderful in helping with fussiness and preparing for bedtime (which they totally were), but also in helping the three of us find ways to spend quality time together through yoga. The toddler/preschool version of this book is equally excellent!

“Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga” by Rebecca Whitford – This was my daughter’s favorite book for a very long time! Not only does this book instruct toddlers on how to accomplish various postures, but also provides vibrant and appealing illustrations for little eyes. Stella and I would usually read this twice each time she pulled it from the bookshelf: once for her to try the postures and again for her to just sit next to me and listen/look.

“Calm Down Time” by Elizabeth Verdick (Part of the ‘Toddler Tools’ Series) – This book doesn’t deal directly with yoga, but promotes the importance of self-regulation for toddlers. It emphasizes taking care of one’s self as a necessary tool for children to master. The focus on deep-breathing is wonderful and children will want to practice as they read.

And take a look at these benefits, compiled by

I’m always looking for new resources, so follow my “Our Yoga Family” Pinterest board for child and adult yoga awesomeness!

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My Beef with Early Readers…but a Shortlist Nonetheless

When a friend commented on my blog that she wanted some book ideas for her kindergarten-aged daughter to read independently, I had to sit on it for a few days. Actually, it was more like a few weeks. (Sorry, Kristi!)

But my trepidation had less to do with personal procrastination and more to do with the serious contemplation of the task at hand. Bottom line: early reader books kind of make me (as my daughter would say) cray-cray. Here’s why:

  • I don’t like the “recommended age” disclaimer on children’s books: these recommendations are especially prevalent on early/easy reader books. Just because a child is 5 years old doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of reading a book recommended for an 8 year old. Age recommendations don’t take the reading capabilities of individual children into consideration.
  • There are no consistent guidelines among publishers for books to qualify as early/easy readers. A book labeled “early reader” and recommended for a certain age group by one publishing house may be much more difficult (or easy) than an “early reader” from a different house.
  • Many books that are great for emerging readers DO NOT feature an early/easy reader label, so may get overlooked by adults looking for appropriate literature.
  • Many books labeled early/easy readers feature popular licensed characters (think Star Wars, Frozen, etc.). While these books may intrigue children, many of them feature vocabulary and content that is too advanced for early readers, making them more frustrating than entertaining for children to read independently.
  • Some early reader books have NO PLOT WHATSOEVER! This drives me up the wall! Books for emerging readers shouldn’t just be a random assortment of words. Kids at this reading level deserve the structure of a well-written story while practicing their reading skills.

So yeah…early readers are kind of my personal mind-scramble. Recommending them is hard. Picking books for emerging readers takes a dedicated effort on the parts of parents, teachers, and caregivers. These adults need to understand the current reading capabilities of their children and chose books that will challenge them, encourage them, and entertain them. This is certainly a tall order.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a few that I DO like. I preface this list by stating that these books may not be appropriate for all emerging readers. I always encourage parents, caregivers, and teachers to read books with their children first to gauge their comfort with the content and their appreciation of the story. If the content aligns with their capabilities (and the child is amused and delighted by the book), set them free to read independently. If the content is a bit challenging and frustrating, place that book in a pile to read alongside your child. And if your child isn’t digging the story, try something else.

So here is my foreboding (but hopefully helpful) list of emerging reader books to consider:

What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas
I not only love the premise of this story, but also the juxtaposition of the type, which adds an enormous amount of charm to the book.

Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long
This is a funny story that is crafted using only a handful of words, but packs a big and silly punch.

I Like Me by Nancy Carlson
This book has more advanced words like “beautiful” and “mistake” but communicates sweet sentiments about self-confidence and promotes healthy self-esteem.

My Car by Byron Barton
Simple sentences with a careful selection of words on each page…plus a twist at the end!

Biscuit series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
These books are labeled as early readers, but still manage to provide adorable stories with repetitive words and phrases. This is an emerging reader series that is becoming a classic.

I know I’ve only touched on a few books here, but as I said, books for emerging readers should focus on the abilities and interests of each individual child. I love providing personal reading lists for children and their families, so CONTACT ME at and we can consult to come up with other great book ideas!

Happy Reading!