Five years ago (a year before I started formal yoga teacher training) I went to a 4 day course on teaching yoga to children, at the Asheville Yoga Center. It was fascinating, exhilarating and exhausting. Having been introduced to the practice as an adult, I wanted to find out how yoga and children intersect. The answer was very naturally! Gandhi is purported to have said that if you want peace in the world you need to begin with children. Yoga was making such a difference in my life, I needed to know how to translate it for our younger generation.
Years before I had taught little kids in Sunday School, which on reflection had some similarities to a kids' yoga class: action story telling and quiet times etc. I also taught World Religion in the public school system in Scotland at a middle and high school level. I believe that the desire to share yoga with kids comes from my predisposition for working with young people! However, moving from a formal classroom teaching style, and into a more organic and holistic approach of communicating with children has been a delight. This is the premise of Yoga: integration and unity of the body, mind and spirit, and these lessons of yoga are surely life enhancing no matter your age, ability or background.
Mindfulness and meditation started to become an integral part of my practice during and after my yoga teacher training. I have found that children enjoy and are naturally attuned to 'being in the moment' whether it's in the middle of an asana sequence, or singing a song, or listening to the singing bowl chime, they tend to have less preoccupations than their elders. Paying attention to the breath is also a great tool to acquire at an early age, and adds much to our yoga practice and everyday coping skills.
I followed up my 230hr yoga teacher training, with a course specifically designed for teaching yoga and mindfulness to children with sensory processing challenges, attention deficit disorders and autism spectrum disorder. Yoga has been shown to benefit this population enormously. With a regular practice in a class and at home, children of all abilities can begin to have a sense of feeling grounded, more focused attention, better body awareness, improved emotional intelligence, more self-confidence, increased self-control and improved communication skills. They also become excellent yoga teachers; instructing family members at home!
I'm looking forward to sharing and investigating lots of yoga poses and movements in many variations that have “real life” application: there's animal yoga, nature yoga, transport yoga, city yoga, beach yoga, insect yoga, cowboy yoga, farmer yoga and so on! Then there's the singing and chanting, we'll sing the Namaste Song. There are percussion instruments to be played, lots of dancing and the creating of new poses. The students will teach and share with each other. There will be some Sanskrit words to learn, and calm and peace to be enjoyed.
We become anything and everything, while actually just being and appreciating ourselves and others. WELCOME TO KIDS YOGA!
P.S. I also teach Senior Yoga, but that's a whole other story!