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“mini yogis minute” tip of the week

Welcome to the "mini yogis minute" weekly yoga tips for teachers and parents looking to create a more fun, engaging, and effective practice for their children. Be sure to check out mini yogis teacher training for all the tricks of the trade!

One of the hardest parts of my job is having to talk to significantly overweight children about weight loss, as a lot of parents rely on me to break through to their children on the point. First of all, overweight children know they need to lose weight. They hear it from their parents and doctors all the time...and it's not that easy! And second of all, weight loss is not what yoga is meant to be about. Weight loss is a byproduct--not the goal--of a mindful yoga practice.

So, when I do bring up the topic, I start by asking my student what his or her real goals are for yoga. Chances are, they don't want to talk about their weight, as it can be an embarrassing subject, so they will say stuff like, "to learn to be calm" and "to learn to focus". It is very important to acknowledge these answers as, not only are they very important aspects of the practice, but students needs to know that they are being heard and not judged.

However, I do still need them to acknowledge the physical goals of the practice and I want them to offer them up, not me. So leading questions: "Those are great goals and obviously you really get yoga. That's awesome! What about health goals? How do you think yoga can help you to stay healthy?"

Usually weight loss will come up at this point and so as to not push the issue or make my student feel uncomfortable, I shift the focus a little bit. "How do you think your life might be different if you lost some weight? How do you think you might feel different or feel differently about yourself?" This is the meat of the matter. And don't be surprised if there are tears involved.

Talk it out and let your student know that you support him or her. Then give some healthy tips. Drink more water. Eat more vegetables. Exercise every day. Make it specific. Drink at least one tall (1.5 liter) bottle of water a day...maybe two. Carry it with you at school. Make sure your dinner plate is at least half vegetables. Do three sun salutations when you wake up and three before bed.

Finally, I encourage my kids to keep health journals. I don't read them...it's for their own edification. But I tell them the journal can be to record water/food intake for the day, it can be to track exercise, or it can be to write down feelings about the process they are going through, or even to draw pictures or write poems about their emotions. Emotions are tightly tied to eating and weight loss, so journaling is a great way to get in touch with a healthier state of mind and being.

And that's the mini yogis minute tip of the week. Check back every week to learn something new!

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