Blog by Olivia Roney (CEO at Crouching Tigers, Registered Yoga Teacher, Kid Expert, Dog Momma to pup Walker)
What is AnimalSkills Yoga?
Mantras + Poses= AnimalSkills. AnimalSkills = Fun.
AnimalSkills Yoga is a fun, creative approach to yoga that promotes body awareness, confidence and mindfulness. In every class, students focus on a new animal, animal pose and mantra. The pose and the mantra together are what we call “AnimalSkills”.
It has been tested. I started teaching and training my staff on AnimalSkills curriculum in my Crouching Tigers martial arts classes last year. After a rebrand from a “martial arts” company to a “children’s wellness” company, the original intention with the curriculum was to incorporate an equal amount of yoga and martial arts in every class. The results of AnimalSkills were fantastic! The result of the attempt to have an equal focus on martial arts and yoga, however, simply wasn’t realistic. The yoga diluted the martial arts and created a substantial amount of brand confusion.
In the 6 months that AnimalSkills was a substantial part of the Crouching Tigers curriculum, we received amazing testimonials from parents and even more amazing memory retention from our students.
It focuses on the needs of children ages 2-10.
When it comes to curriculum writing, I start with a question, “what is a skill that all kids need?” and attempt to answer it by creating stories, games, activities and animal characters around the best way to make learning this new skill fun for kids. After learning that many of my students were afraid to sleep in their beds at night, I wanted to create a physical movement or pose that made them feel safe. I kicked off AnimalSKills curriculum with the TurtleSkill- I am safe and relaxed. The turtle pose is a variation of child’s pose that allows for kids to tuck into their “shell” to feel safe.
After numerous parents emailed, called and stopped me at schools to tell me how well the TurtleSkill was working, I knew I was on to something. After this, I created the KoalaSkill, The PlatypusSkill, the KangarooSkill, the FalconSkill and many more. I continue to write these AnimalSkills on a regular basis with the hope of identifying and testing 52 different AnimalSkills that can be taught over the course of a full year.
I'm excited for the opportunity to offer Animal Skills Yoga at Invoke Studio and Invoke Wellness Center in November! Enroll your 3-5 year old kidos through the links below or on Invoke's website under the Events tab.
Invoke Downtown, Thursdays 5:45pm-6:45pm November 3- December 1 (No class on November 24) (https://www.facebook.com/events/1797267493876453/)
Invoke Wellness, Mondays 9:30am-10:30am November 7-28 (https://www.facebook.com/events/678715408942718/)
Blog by Riley Missel (Student Athlete, Dedicated Yogi, and Finisher of Invoke's 30 Day Challenge)7 Things I Learned Doing Yoga 7 Days a Week at Invoke Studio:
For me, this challenge was the beginning of a wonderful (and more dedicated!) practice and a calmer way of being. To the instructors, friends, fellow students, and Otis the Dog at Invoke: thank you so much for making these past 30 days meaningful and memorable days of growth, exploration, and fun. Namaste.
Finding My Expression.
Blog by Riley Missel (Student Athlete, Spradic Yogi, To-Do List Enthusiast, Cat Mom)
I hate kombucha. I hadn’t tried it until recently, but danggg. It tastes like spiked vinegar and apple juice. No thank you. As much as the yoga blogs and Pinterest posts rave about its benefits… I can’t. On top of this aversion, I also don’t have long skinny legs, a calm demeanor, or cool tattoos.
But the good news is: I’m still a yogi.
But Riley! They exclaim. We can’t even tell by your Instagram photos. Are you sure?
Here’s how I started to see that deepening my yoga practice does not involve drinking bitter liquid or shopping at Lululemon.
On day 21 of my challenge, I toted my mat up to 86th and Ditch to check out the studio up there and take a class with Yvonne. In the middle of a flow, she said something that hit me right in the heart. We tipped forward onto one foot for a half-moon pose and she said “breathe, and find your expression of this pose.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. My expression? Isn’t there a correct expression? Didn’t you have something in mind here Yvonne? I didn’t even know what to do with that freedom, so I just took a regular old half-moon. But as we flowed on, I continued to tumble that thought around in my mind.
My expression…my expression…
On the next side, I bent my knee and took my foot into my outstretched hand. I’d seen someone do it once, and it felt fun. Was it my expression? What did that even mean?
My half-moon didn’t look exactly like the woman’s on the mat beside me. It was mine. My half-moon balanced on a leg made strong by miles and miles of riding a bicycle, and stretched shoulders stiff from a past snowboard wipe-outs and a broken collarbone. And it wiggled and wobbled in a new shape, because I was feeling brave that day.
Finding my expression means I can be me as I practice. I can move like me and breathe like me. It means I don’t need long legs or perfect standing splits to experience yoga the way I was meant to.
Everyone’s body has been through different things: broken bones, dance training, having children, working construction… things that alter the body, which in turn affect your practice. Some of us have tempers, eat junk food, and go weeks without practicing (hi!). But these are the things to be embraced. Because when we find our expression in our practice, we are honoring the wonderful body we’ve been given and the wonderful things it’s given us. That is the yoga I want to practice.
And I won’t even have to drink kombucha.
Blog by Riley Missel (Student Athlete, Sporadic Yogi, Do-To List Enthusiast, Cat Mom)
My orange Toms padded down Lafayette. Shattered glass and fallen mulberries crunch on the sidewalk beneath my shoes. My car broke down on Day 13 of my challenge (hmmm…fishy!) so I spent a good hour and a half using my feet as transportation until I could get where I needed to go.
Strangely, I felt a strong connection to the area I was walking. I’d driven down this street plenty of times before, but something was different as I shuffled along the patchy sidewalk. Most of the signs were not in English, and I’d never been in any of the shops I’d passed. But walking along the worn concrete I felt I was in solidarity with the area around me; the exhaling busses, the old man walking the other way, the strong wind, the woman and her child waiting at the bus stop. It’s funny the difference it made- being on foot versus being in a car.
Later, my bare toes spread onto my green mat in Ahna’s class. Everyone moved for themselves, by themselves, but in unison. Like a dance. Ahna focused the class on our root chakra. She described it as the energy that lets us feel grounded, safe, and steady. I imagined, like she suggested, my feet and legs tinted red as they formed my foundation as we flowed through class. I thought back to my walk down Lafayette, when my feet connected me to that neighborhood.
I lift my eyes to a studio filled with trees- tall trees, short trees, solid trees, waving trees. We were all standing in tree pose, our strong steady roots connecting us to the ground. I realized I was very fortunate and thankful for being able to plant my roots where I have, even if only briefly. I’m so grateful to be a part of a class rooted in tree pose, but also rooted in self-love and kindness.
Part of yoga is coming to be with yourself, sure, but I think another part of it is connecting with a community. And the more I focused on my feet, the more that feeling of connectivity returned. As much as it’s healthy to keep our eyes on our own mat, yoga is also about connection and solidarity with the community around us. We’re standing (or in my case, wobbling) there in tree pose, rooting down, and I felt connected to that class. Which is honestly a little funny, since we don’t have a whole lot of interaction with each other. We smile sometimes, scoot mats over to make space, and occasionally stretch out and touch their toes behind our mat. That’s about it. But rooting down in that forest, I was a piece of something bigger. Something accepting and loving and real- a room full of people on a journey inward and outward, people yearning to find light and be light, people just wanting to laugh and not be serious for a while.
I think we feel a strong connection to the place we connect our roots (aka our feet) to, whether intentional or not. I don’t know these people, but we walk the same streets and we plant our roots in the same studio. Different people, different intentions, different bodies, different lives. But similar pursuits. We’re all human, and what a great place to be human. Thanks Invoke, for giving us a place to root down and find a community.