Taking Care of Others Starts with Employee Wellness

Taking Care of Others Starts with Employee Wellness

Earlier this year, Illuminate Colorado provided these beautiful branded yoga mats to our staff to welcome in the new year. Not only did they make great gifts, but they actively promoted self-care, highlighting a growing–and important–trend in the workplace.

The importance of wellness in the workplace is expanding rapidly.  Many companies are starting to realize that a healthier and happier workplace starts with caring about the people who work there–the employees.

Kaiser Permanente states that “you have an opportunity to improve the health of your employees every day. Making small changes to your workplace and company policies is a great way to start, and it’s where you can make the biggest impact.” More business owners are starting to embrace this idea that facilitating the health of their employees is a great investment for the company as a whole.

Employee Well-being Through Yoga  

One way companies are implementing this is by offering yoga, which promotes both mindful awareness and physical fitness.  Many employers are even re-inventing their offices to accommodate its practice.

A 2017 study by the CDC, discussing yoga and mindfulness, found that “the benefits to everyone involved ripple out from a productive workplace, to a happy home, a more energetic life, and hopefully, a more compassionate society.”

Some other benefits that were found through this study on mindfulness and yoga in the workplace were:

  • increased awareness,
  • improved mood,
  • reduction of stress and
  • fights illness.

But yoga isn’t the only option for employee wellness. There are numerous other ways that employers can promote wellness and self-care for their employees, including:

  • accessible fitness,
  • education,
  • benefits,
  • lunches,
  • breaks,
  • team building,
  • massage,
  • cards and notes from supervisors,
  • gifts,
  • time off,
  • flexibility and so much more.

Support Wellness Where You Work

We offer free yoga to all of our employees at Illuminate Colorado, along with yoga mats, through our Bloom Yoga program and you can too. This is just one small way that we are supporting our employees at Illuminate Colorado and making sure that we’re all able to do the important work that we do every day.

How are you taking care of the people around you?  Be creative and support wellness where you work!

Contact us to learn more about opportunities to partner with Bloom Yoga through trainings, classes or other support in the workplace.

Sarah Crisafi is the program manger for Bloom Yoga at Illuminate Colorado.

Yoga and Post-Traumatic Growth

Yoga and Post-Traumatic Growth

Over the last five years, the number of children in Colorado experiencing sexual abuse has steadily risen. Seven percent of the 286,534 allegations of child maltreatment in Colorado over the last five years involved concerns of sexual abuse; 28 percent of those concerns involved male children and 72 percent female children. However, it is also believed that child sexual abuse is significantly under-reported. National experts estimate that one in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, and 90 percent of children who experience sexual abuse know their abuser.

The Consequences 

The long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse are numerous, ranging from poor self-image to increased risk of mental health issues and suicide. Because sexual abuse is an extreme violation of an individual’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and familial integrity, it contributes to many conditions that confront adult survivors, including homelessness, addiction, obesity, chronic illness and depression.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been reported to be five times more likely in survivors of childhood sexual abuse compared to the general population. Children who have been sexually abused exhibit more posttraumatic fear, anxiety, and concentration problems than do their non-abused peers.

Healing Through Yoga

Dr. John Hopper at Harvard Medical School reports that the key for promoting healing for childhood sexual abuse is:

  • Establishing safety and stability in one’s body, one’s relationships, and the rest of one’s life.
  • Tapping into and developing one’s own inner strengths, and any other potentially available resources for healing.
  •  Learning how to regulate one’s emotions and manage symptoms that cause suffering or make one feel unsafe.
  • Developing and strengthening skills for managing painful and unwanted experiences, and minimizing unhelpful responses to them.

Those familiar with Yoga practices and philosophy will immediately recognize that Yoga is an ideal opportunity to initiate, build, and integrate mindfulness and body-focused practices to address symptoms of childhood sexual abuse.

Trauma-Informed Yoga is a natural environment to create a safe space for healing. Yoga promotes the learning of “interoceptive awareness,” a fancy way of saying awareness of feelings and sensations in the body.  Often times, survivors have turned away from feelings and sensations as a way of survival.  Yoga can teach survivors how to “befriend” the body and to get to know the associated sensations and feelings, which helps them to make conscious changes and have more choice and control over their own lives.  Yoga also incorporates relaxation techniques, coping skills and empowering philosophy which can also aid in the development of post traumatic growth.

For more information on how yoga can be used to build brighter childhoods and the different ways that you can get involved, visit Bloom Yoga’s webpage.

 

Alongside Healing Comes Prevention

It’s not all just about healing. It’s important to also focus on the prevention of childhood sexual abuse. The Tipping Point Initiative encourages all Coloradans to take the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children® training, the only evidence-informed, adult-focused child sexual abuse prevention program in the United States proven to increase knowledge and change behavior. Adults learn how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse and feel empowered to spread their knowledge within the community. Visit the website to learn more.

Yoga and Mindfulness: Six Benefits for Kids

Yoga and Mindfulness: Six Benefits for Kids

Did you know that yoga is great for kids? More and more studies are showing the numerous benefits that come from yoga and mindfulness. And we’re not just talking about flexibility, although it definitely helps with that, too! Yoga for children can be powerful. The elements of yoga—visualization, mindfulness, breathing exercises, and movement—give children skills to reduce stress and find balance in their hearts and minds.

Let’s take a deeper look at six of the hidden benefits that these practices can provide our children. 

Six Benefits for Kids

1. Builds Confidence

Yoga is a naturally non-competitive environment that can build confidence in all ages, shapes, and abilities.  Whether your child is an active athlete just looking to increase flexibility, or a bookworm with little interest in sports, yoga provides an environment to introduce new physical challenges in a safe and all-accepting environment.  Overcoming challenges ON a yoga mat, can lead to overcoming challenges OFF the yoga mat, increasing overall confidence. 

2. Decreases Anxiety

Yoga and Mindfulness are researched and known for their ability to regulate the physiological systems associated with anxiety.  When we use yoga to decrease a physiological response, such as reducing heart rate, we can have more control over our stress response systems. 

 “There is also evidence that yoga practice help increases heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly.”  -Harvard Medical School

3. Builds Focus and Concentration

Yoga encourages present moment awareness.  When faced with a physical challenge in yoga, it’s almost impossible to think about the past or dwell on the future.  As children practice yoga, they develop the ability to focus on the situation at hand, which helps them with school and other problem-solving tasks. 

4. Promotes Self-Care

Building a foundation of this practice in childhood is essential.  Children can learn about healthy habits early so they are more likely to continue that practice into adulthood.  Time spent during yoga may be the only time a child spends focusing on caring for themselves.  It’s so empowering to have a child know the benefit of a deep breath or know how to keep their body healthy. 

5. Increases Self-Awareness

Yoga has a way of helping us get to know our inner self, feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Without paying attention to these things, we may not be able to shift or change them, if we wanted to.  This is called Introspection and is the idea that you can pay attention to what is going on inside your body and mind.  Without self-awareness, we tend to respond unconsciously to things.  Yoga and Mindfulness helps us to shift so that children are making more informed decisions about their bodies and responses to stress.

6. Builds Balance and Flexibility

You do not have to be a pretzel to increase flexibility through the practice of yoga.  In fact, you don’t even have to consider yourself “flexible” to start a practice.  When you start incorporating yoga movements in your body, such as forward folding, twists, and balances, you increase the body’s intelligence by improving flexibility.  You increase the range of movement in your body, building new neural pathways in the brain, as well as pathways in the muscles and tissues in your body.

“After 8 weeks, the average flexibility of the yoga group improved by 13 percent to 35 percent and the gains were significantly greater than the non-yoga group.” – A study by the American Council on Exercise

As you can see, yoga and mindfulness can be instrumental in how we raise children of the future to be healthy, well-regulated, and responsible members of our communities. So next time you’re looking for something fun to do with your kiddos, try yoga!

To read more about Bloom Yoga, visit our webpage. And for some great yoga activities to try out, visit our Bloom Yoga YouTube playlist.

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Yoga and Post-Traumatic Growth

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Over the last five years, the number of children in Colorado experiencing sexual abuse has steadily risen. Seven percent of the 286,534 allegations of child maltreatment in Colorado over the last five years involved concerns of sexual abuse; 28 percent of those...

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Yoga and Mindfulness: Six Benefits for Kids

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Bloom Yoga: Building Connection through Partner Poses

Bloom Yoga: Building Connection through Partner Poses

Partner Poses are a fun way to build your yoga routine at home! Kids and Teens love these poses because they are interactive and leave room for a lot of connection and laughter.

Partner poses can build focus, teamwork, and empathy — all essential skills we want to teach our kids. 

As you think about partnering with your child, be sure to demonstrate a sense of humor so everyone knows it’s okay to be silly and have fun!  We tend to think you have to be “good” or “flexible” to do yoga, but that’s not what it’s about.  Yoga accepts you where you are. Enjoy the moment, try your best, and keep you and your body safe. Most of all, have fun. 

We love Yoga Pretzel cards by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish!

Some fun partner poses are demonstrated in our video HERE.

These are some of the fun poses we used:

      • Double Dog
      • Back to Back Chair
      • Double Tree (Forest)
      • Partner Seated Twist
      • Airplane
      • Double Gate
      • Double Plank

Trauma-Informed Yoga Tip: Always give your child the option to be touched prior to partner poses or games.  Choice is important for children when learning about their bodies and healthy boundaries.  Always talk first!

A Bloom Yoga Partner Relaxation Activity: Back Writing

Take a seat behind your child and use your index finger to firmly write letters, shapes, or words on their back. Have them guess what you have written or drawn. Or have them draw or write it down themselves on a piece of paper. Take turns guessing what you write on each other’s backs! Connect and relax!

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Over the last five years, the number of children in Colorado experiencing sexual abuse has steadily risen. Seven percent of the 286,534 allegations of child maltreatment in Colorado over the last five years involved concerns of sexual abuse; 28 percent of those...

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Engaging Teens in Yoga Practice

Engaging Teens in Yoga Practice

Making yoga relevant and fun for the kids and teens in our lives is so important.  With little exposure to quality kids and teen yoga, many teens may perceive yoga as boring. Or they might think that you have to be flexible or wear certain clothing. There are often so many incorrect assumptions made about yoga.

But, we can change this.  Yoga, at its core, is all-accepting, regardless of ability or circumstances. And offering yoga to teens can help them with their health, growth, and development. 

“Aside from the physical benefits of yoga, yoga teaches teens techniques for coping with the unique issues they are faced with every day—insecurity about their changing bodies, the enormous pressure to fit in, stressful schedules and uncertainty about their beliefs and their futures.”  –Erica Rodefer

Also, we know that the brain continues to develop throughout the early to late teenage years.

“The prefrontal cortex is the area behind the forehead and is known as the -CEO of the Brain-, for its ability to plan, organize and regulate mood.  The development of the prefrontal cortex gives you the ability to concentrate and think, rather than act on impulse, and is critical to being successful throughout life stages, whether in academics, career, or relationships. “  –Dr. Marilyn Wei

Research shows that yoga during this timeframe can help teens cultivate “executive functions” such as creativity, flexibility, self-control, and discipline.

Here are some easy ways to engage pre-teens and teens in yoga:

Pre-Teen Hip Hop Yoga

Each young person should get a turn if they choose.  The first one picks their song and gets to lip sync and dance.   The rest of the group is behind the singer, with a yoga sequence practiced beforehand.  Have fun and be creative!  Try to incorporate all 3 elements of yoga in your sequence:  movement, breath, and rest.

Older Teen Yoga Tips

Let teens choose:

      • Music
      • Placement in room
      • Movements
      • Journal topics
      • How they participate

Teens usually like to understand the “WHY”, so be sure to explain why yoga is helpful. Also, this may not come as a surprise, but teens like to rest!  Allow plenty of time for them to cultivate peace, stillness, and calmness.

For more information on this topic, here are a few of Bloom Yoga’s favorite teen yoga resources:

Young Yokes Kids Yoga

“Yoga with Adrienne” Youtube channel

And don’t forget to keep a look out for upcoming yoga videos on our Bloom Yoga YouTube playlist!

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Making Physical Education Extra Meaningful: Tips for our Last Weeks of School

Making Physical Education Extra Meaningful: Tips for our Last Weeks of School

We all know the importance of physical education in schools.  It helps to develop motor skills, reflexes, and coordination.  It also gives children much-needed movement for their bodies during the school day and so much more. 

With kids and youth currently at home for the last weeks of school, the importance of physical education remains. One way to ensure you are providing a meaningful physical education experience at home is to incorporate mind-body techniques and activities.  Mind-Body activities teach us how our body affects our mind, and our mind affects our body. 

A research article by Dr. Sprengel and Fritts (2012) reported that:

“School and classroom-oriented programs that incorporate mind-body practices have demonstrated positive outcomes for well-being, resilience, academic performance, test scores, individual self-perception, self-regulation of negative behaviors, anxiety, stress, Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, insomnia, anger/aggressive behaviors, and chronic pain conditions.”

It is important to teach children how the mind and body impact one another, and ways to practice mind body awareness and activities. We know that one stressful thought could put your body, chemically, into a state of stress.  This could result in a behavioral outburst, body aches and other somatic issues. Teaching children that they have some control over these aspects (their mind and body), can lead to healthy, regulated adults in the future. 

What are some examples of these mind-body activities?

      • Yoga
      • Meditation
      • Relaxation techniques such as breathing
      • Massage
      • Guided Imagery
      • Tai Chi

This week, we’ll be posting some fun mind-body activities from Bloom Yoga to incorporate into your school day for physical education breaks during the day! Be on the lookout for these activities on our Facebook page and YouTube channel!

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Over the last five years, the number of children in Colorado experiencing sexual abuse has steadily risen. Seven percent of the 286,534 allegations of child maltreatment in Colorado over the last five years involved concerns of sexual abuse; 28 percent of those...

Yoga and Mindfulness: Six Benefits for Kids

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