Encourage children to make suggestions, engage and offer ideas
There are so many benefits for children to start doing yoga from a young age, as the practice works on all aspects of a person: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
On a physical level, yoga enhances flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. Emotionally, yoga creates calmness and relaxation and helps one to focus on the present. On a mental level yoga reduces stress and improves focus and concentration. Spiritually, yoga creates greater awareness and allows one to feel a sense of peace and connection to self and all of creation.
Yoga also helps children to build inner strength and resilience which helps them to cope with the challenges of school, peer pressure and difficult home and social situations.
Guidelines for teaching children yoga:
- Use opening and closing rituals (e.g. always starting in a circle and singing the same song, and then closing with the same affirmation)
- Start with a game / song / ice-breaker (see Facilitation Skills for examples)
- Move quite quickly through postures, not making them hold for too long
- If you do want to hold however, count to 5/10 aloud together
- It doesn’t matter if the pose is accurate or alignment perfect. Assist and adjust if it looks uncomfortable or if there is a potential for injury
- Between each posture you can ask them to close their eyes, take a deep breath and feel what’s happening in their bodies
- Encourage children to make suggestions, engage and offer ideas
- Allow for non-participation as long as it is not disruptive
- Use props and physical mediums (e.g. books, posters, mirrors, natural objects such as feathers, shells, stones etc.)
- Create a theme for the class which encourages the imagination (e.g. going to the beach or a picnic – then get creative with the poses to link them to the theme.)
- You can make the poses interesting by making the animal sounds or playing a game like “Simon Says”
Repetition is key. Always come back to the breath. If all we teach is how to calm down using breathing, its enough
- During savasana we soften our voices – we want the children to be calm, quiet and relaxed and to learn how practice that themselves
- Use an essential oil spray at the end of class with a calming oil such as Lavender or Vanilla – the children love this!