I gaze up the trunk of a sturdy white cedar tree (gargantuan from a little human’s vantage point); alive with the hum of cicada call and abandoned husks clinging to the bark. I randomly consider each branch as a potential foothold and opportunity to contemplate my progress along the way. I regard with excitement (my keen observation from the amount of abandoned homes), the high-likelihood of meeting up with a green grocer, cherry nose or the rare black prince.
…the leafy sprawl provides a dense canopy that shields me from the outer world. I reach up for my first branch and my feet leave the ground. Moving with confidence and sure-footedness, I make my way, unfazed for the top. I am mindfully moving and weaving in, out and around the obstacle of protruding branches. This and many other real-life childhood adventures could well be the inspiration for a kid’s yoga-themed class.
Let Nature Be your Playground (and Inspiration)
Child’s Play and sport were second nature to me. After school I could rarely be found inside (homework avoidance)…in fact, I could rarely be found outside! If not up a tree…we were down a creek, down a drain, hiding, seeking, playing, exploring, discovering and searching out endless possibilities for anything that constituted play. My friends and I were busy creating and living adventures. We were active and involved while engaging our imagination, physicality and curious natures.
Awaken Creativity and Encourage Individual Expression
It’s no surprise that after my yoga teacher training in 2016, I found myself drawn to teaching kid’s yoga and exploring what it is that represents play for them nowadays. I felt a strong urge to `share the love’ by incorporating my experience with my own playful nature to create a joyful space for them. Hanging out and exploring fun and creative ways to move our bodies, breathe and be mindful using storytelling, games and a touch of spontaneity is a whole barrel load of fun. The payoff is the ripple effect to these little person’s personal discovery, creativity and finding confidence amongst new friends to express themselves assuredly; to feel good in their own skin.
Have A Plan (Be Ready At All Costs to Modify Plan)
A kid’s yoga class looks, sounds and feels very different to an adult`s class and as you might suspect is way more impulsive. The pace, the games, the regular interactions with one-another and pose reference to animals is the magic that subtly teaches the fundamental life and social skills in a very engaging way. I always come with a plan; however, have learnt that sometimes abandoning that plan in order to keep the momentum, interest, engagement and attention of these high-spirited little humans is a necessity. Just as encouraging their own unique expression throughout class is vital.
Establish Rules Early On (Stick with Them)
Before I officially trained as a kid’s yoga teacher, I enthusiastically put my hand up to introduce a weekly, after-school program at my local studio; how hard could it be, right? I worked with kids on a daily basis in my regular job! My classes gathered momentum, they were FUN, FAST and FRENZIED, containing little composition (but lots of content) and consequently at times could have been considered chaotic! I would leave class exhilerated but frazzled some days…
Savasana (yogic sleep) at the end of each class often brought stillness through exhaustion…
(Establishing rules was work in progress and really came in after teacher training).
After kid’s yoga teacher training, I returned armed with a whole new basket of goodies, resources, self confidence and a format that I could confidently build a more solid foundation upon. I was super excited about planning my six to eight week programs with a theme, a format and an objective in mind. The kid’s confidence grew (as did my own) as they came to know and understand new breathing techniques, poses, mindfulness and core values because of regular revisiting and weekly check-ins. My class numbers began to grow and I was beginning to see some great results (particularly in those children that require structure and knowing what is coming next). Their desire to move, adventure, explore, discover and grow together and in their self awareness and awareness of surrrounds was enlightening.
Given the stresses and sedentary notions that children are tending towards…it is in our best interests to invite, delight and encourage the younger generation to become more able to deal with life’s stresses, armed with tools that they can access on their own merit. Yoga for kids is so play oriented but looks at poses (how and why our body moves like it does), breathing (conscious awareness of our breath), mindfulness (the way we observe and interact with our surrounds) and meditation techniques all with a sense of an underlying lesson in a fun and engaging environment.
By encouraging our children towards healthy lifestyle choices and practices such as yoga and play in general allows this generation a much better chance of being able to deal with stress and anxiety that is becoming more and more prevalent.
“We must therefore create a favourable environment that will encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts”
– Dr Maria Montessori