Five Questions with…Hui Lee

Our kids face with stress everyday – from school, friends, siblings, social media and much more! See what Hui Lee has to say about the benefits of meditation for kids.

What inspired you to start doing meditation?

That would be a very long story. In short, I was going through a tough period in my life some time ago, but as you could already guess, I have been an avid meditator from my younger years, and the meditation practices helped put me back on track and allowed me to get enough peace and rest despite some sleepless nights due to my stress!

Why are you interested to teach meditation to kids?

To be honest, I did not really think too much about this! But looking back, there were two major influences. The first is, of course, I had discovered that there are so much benefits we could gain just by practicing mindfulness! The second one is more personal. I have a nephew whom I really dote on a lot. He’s an ADHD kid – he’s not only super active, but also having difficulty in expressing himself. I could feel his frustration. Looking at him and how stressful the kids are in our modern society, wouldn’t it be good for them to be equipped with a tool that can help them to de-stress and cope better with their emotions? And this tool will stay with them for life!

How do you keep kids engaged during your meditation classes?

Kids can’t sit still for long! That’s what I thought in the beginning, but to my surprise, kids pick up meditation much easier than adults. I was amazed by how easily they could get into the meditative mode. The trick is to keep the session short but fun. During meditation for kids, I usually will guide them via visualization to experience an adventure in their inner world, which I called it as heartland.

What would you like parents to know about meditation to encourage them to get their kids to meditate?

There could be some general perception that meditation is only associated with religion. It is actually just a mindfulness exercise that helps us to be more aware of our thoughts, emotions and environment. I remembered reading an article in a journal on family studies, and it reported on a research done in a school in which during 5 weeks of regular meditation amongst students, it showed the students had improved focus, more self-awareness, reduced stress, and were more relaxed and happy. Wow, what are we waiting for?

Any tips for parents to embark on the meditation journey?

Keep an open-mind. Don’t think. Just relax and enjoy the experiences!

If you are interested to learn more about meditation, feel free to check out the Kids’ Meditation sessions at The Golden Space!

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Five Questions with…Keng Ann

A trained physiotherapist with a strong passion for working with kids, Keng Ann shares tips about keeping fit and healthy, both physically and mentally. Read on for more inspiration!

As someone trained in bodyworks, how does stress impact the overall state of your body?

Stress is created within the body in response to external stressors for survival. This “flight or fight” response allows us to be on alert and thus focus on the situation that triggers it.  In a short-lived circumstance, it yields positive result.

However, in our modern daily lifestyle, these situations tend to be over an extended period of time – for example, long working hours with intense work demands, constant competition for better results, meeting expectations of others and much more. These create wear and tear for the body in many ways mentally, emotionally and of course, physically.  Tensions and pains such as tension headache may begin to manifest within the body, not to mention fatigue, depression and increased risk of coronary heart diseases, just to name a few.

For growing kids, what would you recommend for them to keep fit and healthy, both physically and mentally?

Unlike adults who need specific form of exercises such as going to the gym for a run on the treadmill or to lift some weights, kids’ way of keeping fit and healthy ties in very much with their growth and development. It is all about play and being physically active!  Playtime during recess with friends, physical education sessions in schools and participating in various non-competitive sports will allow kids to develop an all-round fitness and healthy well-being.  For example, playing non-competitive cross sports activities, such as racket games coupled with soccer, are highly recommended for kids before they develop a specific interest in any sports form.

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What can busy parents do to stay healthy?

Doing frequent stretches between work! Take up some form of exercises, especially cardio-vascular-based ones such as jogging, swimming or even brisk walking at constant speed helps too. Keeping your body hydrated and eating a proper balanced diet also help in meeting the demands of the body to cope with daily body functions.  Meditation also helps in unwinding your mind and body into a calmer state with better clarity to manage external stressors in daily life.

What are the benefits of meditation?

There are lots of benefits! Meditation enhances the mental, emotional and physical state of ones’ well-being:

  • Emotionally, it reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and promotes optimism, relaxation and awareness. It allows for a good mood and emotional quotient to better manage interpersonal relationships.
  • Mentally, it increases mental strength, memory retention and focus, leading to better cognitive skills, decision-making and creative thinking. It also helps in managing ADHD conditions.
  • Physically, it improves our immune system and energy level, improves breathing and heart rate, and reduces the symptoms resulting from a list of conditions.

What inspires you to do meditation?

Besides all the known benefits of meditations, I love the clarity of the mind, positive relaxed physical status and how the body, mind and emotions feel more harmonized with one another after meditation. Being someone who constantly is thinking up new ideas and things to do, coupled with my long hours of physical work demands, meditation allows me to re-balance, reboot and re-charge myself effectively.

If you are interested to learn more about meditation, feel free to reach out to Keng Ann at The Golden Space!

Five Questions with…Gail

Our bubbly yoga instructor, Gail, shares about her journey to take up yoga, and the benefits for everyone, including parents and kids, to practice yoga. Read on!

What inspired you to take up yoga?

I took up yoga hoping to gain strength and flexibility for my pole dancing hobby. Little did I know I would end up ditching pole dancing for yoga! I began to see positive changes in my life – physically, mentally & emotionally. And as they say, the rest is history!

What are the benefits of practicing yoga?

Yoga helps us regain balance not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too.

The physical postures helps increase strength & flexibility through mindful movement. The focus on breathing and awareness also helps reduce stress & high blood pressure, as well as increase mindfulness on and off the mat.

Can kids do yoga? How will yoga benefit kids?

Believe it or not, kids are natural yogis! They love to have fun, they love to explore, and are super comfortable in their bodies.

A typical yoga class will start with an energizing phase and end with a calming, restorative phase. The energizing phase allows kids to let out all their restless energy through fun and movement, as well as increase strength and flexibility. The calming phase allows children to get in touch with themselves and their bodies, to find the still, quiet place within.

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How do you make yoga interesting for kids in your classes?

A key ingredient in Kids Yoga is lots and lots of FUN! When children are engaged and having fun, it makes learning of new skills and brain patterns so much easier. I create the element of fun through games and storytelling, getting them involved in the feeling of each moment.

Any advice for anyone who is starting to learn yoga?

Listen to your body. Our bodies are like our best friend who’s always there for us, and we often forget to connect with it, even in yoga class.

If you are interested to try out parent-child yoga, do sign up for our family retreat program!

The Present is a Gift

Every day, we are caught up with our daily tasks, be it at work, in school or at home. We go through the motions, and sometimes, we try to get through things as fast as we could. Why?

Is it because we feel that we are wasting time and there are better things to do? Is it because we are getting more and more impatient in today’s fast-paced society? Is it because we don’t really care?

In our rush through daily life, in the name of getting things done, ticking off our checklist, we are missing out on something important in life. We have forgotten to stop and pause, to savour each moment in our life, no matter what we are doing.

And as parents, how often do we sigh and lament over how fast kids grow up and wistfully look back at their younger days? Yet, usually when facing the moment itself, we probably didn’t hold on to it to enjoy the moment, because we were busy being frustrated or upset that things are not going the way we want. We have forgotten how to see each situation with our kid, no matter how trying it could be, to see it and experience it with love.

As Dr. Seuss has aptly wrote:

How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

Each day, we have 1,440 minutes. Every day, we have 86,400 seconds. We have countless opportunities to love and give each day. And our kids deserve it.

So, live in the moment, be fully present. Because the present is a gift in our life.

Here are some tips to get yourself into the present:

  1. Breathe – listen to your breathing, as the air flows into your body and out. We are alive at this moment, and appreciate it.
  2. Laugh – Remember a happy moment and smile, better still, laugh to yourself. Life is joyful, enjoy whatever it brings.
  3. Say a prayer – no matter which religion you believe in, it’s okay. Remind yourself of the love you can give and the purpose for this life, and express your gratitude.

C’est la vie – That’s Life

Changes are a constant. How true. I was reminded of this once again as many events simultaneously unfolded in all quarters of my life recently.

As I looked back on the ups and downs, one phrase kept popping into my mind – “C’est la vie”. A few weeks earlier, my child asked me what that meant.

Yes, life holds its mysteries and wonders. We need to fully embrace every moment, as a gift, as a present. Admittedly, it’s not easy all the time, but that’s life.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu

As a parent, I often wonder if I get too anxious, about the past and about the future. Yet, what I really need to do is to live in the present. Be fully present for myself, my children and my family.

Coping with changes can be distracting indeed. It probably requires the strength of a bull, the might of a lion and the sturdiness of an elephant. But most aptly, it probably requires us to be like water – fluid and flowing yet strong and living.

“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.” – Lao Tzu

So let us, as parents, focus on the present and treasure our family moments!