At Earthchild Project, we teach over 2,000 children yoga and meditation every week. The children come from stressful communities where they face violence, substance abuse and poverty. For many of the children, our yoga classes are a much needed safe and nurturing space where they can connect with themselves, others and the environment.
Our classes generally start and end the same way, every time, to create a familiar space with clear boundaries within which they can explore safely…
Generally the yoga mats are laid out when the children enter the classroom. We ask them to take off their shoes before they enter, to find a mat quietly, and to sit in yoga pose with their legs crossed.
Once the class has entered and is seated, we greet the class and introduce what the lesson will be about for the day, giving them road signals for the lesson ahead.
The children then come to a standing position, and we say the Yoga Pledge (this takes about 10 minutes):
- I love my body (wrapping arms around ourselves for a big hug)
- I respect aaaaaalllllll people, animals and the earth (spreading arms wide)
- I will listen to my teachers, my friends and myself (cupping our ears, looking forward, looking to friends, pointing to self)
- I will keep my class clean (mountain pose with palms open to the front) and my mat flat
(squatting to pat mat)
- (standing up) I will always, always (stamping one foot stamp and then the other) do my best (placing hands on hips)
- When I say I can (raising one fist in the air), YES I CAN! (jumping as high as possible in the air)
The first times that you teach the pledge, go through each point separately. Pause and go over the meaning of the words (if necessary translate each point into the children’s home language). Get the children to repeat each line so they practice the correct pronunciation. Discuss what each point means for how to behave in the yoga classes. Ask for examples and suggestions.
Start by teaching point 1. Then teach point 1 and 2. Then 1, 2 and 3, etc…
Once they have mastered the sequence with words and actions, repeat the whole pledge several times saying the pledge softly (almost whispering) and then loudly, slowly and then fast. You can also try performing the pledge without words, using just the actions.