Physical fitness is proven to help a child develop a strong body and mind. Exercise increases oxygen intake into the body and works muscles and organs to keep us in Tip-Top shape. Sometimes we as adults make excuses as how we can’t get to exercise because we don’t have time. I’ve also heard that in many schools as well. Body weight calisthenics are a key component in my school assemblies as they implement different animals to use different parts of the body. These animal movements increase heart and lung power, strengthen all the muscles in the body and increase ligament and tendon flexibility. It also lets us be silly. And one of the best behavior management strategies I know is to get your children tired!
Below is a list of animals that we use in our classes . Included in the list are beginner basics like a bear crawl and a kangaroo hop to more difficult animals like the inchworm and gorilla. Try these out with your kids, especially before it’s time to nap. Yes, I suggested YOU try them out as well. If you do, you’ll feel a complete body change immediately after. If you know any other animals that are on this list, feel free to email me and I would love to add it and give you credit. And try to make the noises as best you can so that you can feel silly and light-hearted again. Let me hear you growl!!
- Bear walk – walking on hands and feet
- Frog jump – baby frog jump is squatting down all the way, heels off the ground and jumping. Super frog jump is when same frog jump is done however knees are brought into chest for additional height. Instruct children to land on balls of feet like a cat.
- Crab walk – start sitting on bottom. Feet are flat. Hands are flat under shoulders. Fingers pointing toward toes. Lift bottom off of the ground and walk either forward, backwards, or sideways.
- Snake slither – child is on belly, arms are in front, feet are crossed, and they slither around the room making any S sounds.
- Monkeying around – is just basically bucking around, any sort of body movement, walking on your hands or feet, your legs jumping. Monkeying with a combination of bear and frog.
- Kangaroo hops – kangaroo is when feet are together, knees slightly bent, elbows are tight to body and hands are in front and you are hoping, sometimes a “boing” sound. This exercise is great to finish off any animal exercise and go right into karate because it’s easy for any kid.
- Seal crawl– seal is when your lower body is laying on the ground and your legs do not move and your upper body is pulling your lower body.
- Tiger pounce – walk on all fours slowly for muscle tension, then get real low while trying to keep the body off the ground. Take a giant jump forward or straight up like a tiger pouncing on its prey.
- Bunny hops – like kangaroo except hands are over ears making bunny sounds, which also increases shoulder strength.
- Inch worm – student lies on stomach, hands on the ground, then jumps their feet up to their shoulders. Then they walk the hands out further and then jumps the feet up to the shoulders and walks hands out further and repeat.
- Gorilla – Just like a bear walk, however the child is developing wrist strength by walking on their fists. Either knuckles forward or sideways work.
Picture by James Emery
In March of 2016 I had the true pleasure of observing a gym class at the Douglas school in Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. I had worked with autistic children before but only on an individual basis and sitting down with my two interns at the time to watch the gym class was truly an extraordinary experience. What I saw was a group of adults with patience and compassion in their hearts working one-on-one with these kids. They range from ages 10 all the way to 17. The class was an hour long and the kids had a great time. After having a lengthy conversation with the physical education teacher, he let us come back to do a sample class of Yogarate.
After teaching the first class I fell in love with all of those kids. Their uniqueness and their gifts were awe inspiring. Some of the kids picked up on the martial arts and the deep breathing immediately and were able to focus better than some of my other students in traditional schools. These kids had a yearning to communicate and there was something in the way that I was committed to figuring out. With the assistance of some unique associates and friends, I began the journey of inquiry. One of these amazing angels on earth is a lady by the name of Nicole who is a nutrition specialist and much more. She also focuses on other modalities of health and wellness. From her I learned about how color dyes and preservatives in food have a direct link to autism. With a wealth of information at her fingertips, she shared with me two articles that opened my eyes. However the articles that she shared with me intrigued and frustrated me, I made sure to read them. Even if it took me 3 sittings.
I have shared both articles below. The first article talks about how an autistic family completely changed their families diet and within three weeks their child had displayed dramatically less autistic characteristics than ever before. The second article is a case study that talks about the lack of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and how a deficiency in the body can affect children and adults with depression, ADHD, and autism just to name a few. Pause and think about it for a moment. Our bodies adapt to the environment that they’re put in and what we put into our mouths is the most important thing to be aware of in the realm of solving all of our ailments. My invitation to you is this… If you or anyone that you know have children or adults that have been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, bipolar, or Autism, I offer to you the opportunity to read these two articles. That is going to be the easy part. Actually having the power to make changes in your diet is going to be the hard part, especially if your kids are already addicted to things like gluten and fake foods that have different colored dyes in them. I get it. And you can still get them gluten free organic pizza and chicken nuggets.
You get to make a choice whether to take a stand for the well-being of your family or to keep giving them food poison so that they have continued challenges through the rest of their life. It’s not your children’s responsibility to go food shopping, it is yours. You get to choose right now to be a powerful stand for your family and make the right choices in the realm of nutrition no matter how hard it is in the beginning. A month will go by and you will look back and laugh as you realize it wasn’t that difficult. You’ve made important changes in your life and you survived and maybe even thrived. You can do it again for your family. What could it hurt? It could only change your family’s life forever. Is that worth it to you? I hope so. I’m honored that you read this blog post and I hope that you enjoy the articles as well. The second one is a case study so feel free to skip around to what pertains your child. I acknowledge you for being a powerful champion for your family. Get that that is a CHOICE that you make. Go you! Hi-five!
Curing autism with food
Why Omega 3 & 6 Oils help autism, ADHD, Bi-Polar and much more.
Picture by Jeremy Kieth