The Teacher said: “Put your hands on your belly, think of a color for your balloon, breathe in blow up your balloon, breathe out and deflate your balloon slowly, breathe in, blow up your balloon, uh oh it pops!” Little mouths with big laughter fill the room. Welcome to the dynamic, creative, challenging, sweet, fun world of Kids Yoga! When I first started studying to be a yoga teacher 8 years ago I knew that translating the magic of yoga to kids was something I wanted to do.
I have been working with kids for most of my life, they follow me everywhere so I have no choice. I have been a nanny, babysitter, school teacher, god mother, mentor and adding teaching yoga to my work with children was not to cold, not to hot, it was just right! However it has taken me years of trial and error, study, creative exploration and of course many, many, many groups of kids to learn how to teach them well, and of course I am still learning. Children’s natural dramatic energy is activated in yoga as the kids and I are climbing up mountains, becoming strong warriors, turning into fierce lions, wise owls, and soaring eagles. Yoga poses named after nature and animals, things kids love, lend themselves to easily connect to kids. There is endless stories and adventures that can be told with yoga poses and I make up my own which always change a little or a lot depending on the group.
I blend my classes with movement, music, story and have quite time and rest at the end of the class. It is very common that the kid who didn’t seem like he would ever want to be still says during the closing circle: “I like resting the best.” Or a shy child that wouldn’t even say her name in the beginning circle become the most vivacious volcano of them all. It is a skill to find the right combination of active and quiet yoga, to balance the shy and expressive personalities, to keep the kids engaged, flowing and in control. To know what works for each age group and believe me some things do and some things don’t. I used to fear 3 and 4 year olds but now I have learned how to teach even them!
Yoga teaches kids how to feel good in their bodies, how to challenge themselves to get stronger, more flexible and hold that tree pose for as long as they individually can. It teaches kids that focus and peace is possible to find within themselves. It inspires them to feel power within not power over and like the roots of trees in a forest shows us that we are all connected.
I believe these ancient teaching are modern medicine for our children as well as us. I am excited to have the opportunity to teach other teachers and others what I have learned so far about the art of teaching yoga to kids in the Yoga Teacher Training for Kids Workshop at Whole Life Yoga on July 1st. I hope you will join me there and or in a family or kids yoga class. Lets give the gift of yoga to our kids! Lets thrive and improve our whole selves together. The light in me sees the light in you. Namaste.