The above photo is a picture of my friend and fellow yoga teacher Heather Aubain and her daughter! Heather teaches at Heart Center Yoga in Hickory, NC. If you’re ever in the area you should drop in on one of her classes! She’s fantastic!
This past Friday I had one of my first experiences teaching yoga to children with my dear friend Dea. We completed 3 sessions. One 3-6 year old group, a 6-9 group, and finally a 9-12 year old session. I learned so much in these quick sessions and I wanted to give some recommendations to those who may be interested in teaching youth locally.
*Keep em’ Movin’ – In all three of these sessions it was clear that an hour long class for adults can be boiled down to 20 minutes with children. If you try to hold kids in a pose for too long they will 1. get tired and 2. They’ll lost interest. Give the class a quicker pace then you would adults and they’ll hang in there longer especially the younger ones. Savasana should be 3-5 minutes long for them to get the maximum benefit and stay tuned in. I would suggest that the younger the age group the quicker your transitions should be or the more movement you should have.
*Interact – Ask the children to give input in different poses. Example- Ask “What kind of dog are you?” in Downward Facing Dog. Or “What kind of tree are you” in tree pose. Keep the conversation going during the class and make sure to find out how they feel before and after the session. This will help you and the kids realize some of the benefits firsthand.
*Be Silly and Laugh Together- Yoga for kids is all about letting go and releasing tension. Make sure to have a good time with it by making funny noises (animal noises are always fun) and funny faces! Be sure to emphasize that there isn’t a “perfect pose” and wherever they are is perfect!
*Get this book because it’s AWESOME- We used this book for our savasana portion of each session with great success and I’ve also recommended it to teachers in the past for their students. http://www.relaxkids.com/books/default.aspx
*Don’t Forget to Breathe – This an area I want to try to work on this coming Friday. Working with young ones you, as their teacher, are helping them to hone their body and mind connection. Inviting their attention to the breath during movement or relaxation will encourage them to turn inward and release tension. I’ve found lots of fun ways to use the breath during a class without narrowing it to simply inhaling on one movement and exhaling on another. Bunny breath, Dragon breath, back breathing…oh the possibilities!
*Teamwork – Another area we would love to incorporate more! Partner yoga and group work with children can be simple and help build trust and a sense of community between peers. I can’t wait to see what we can come up with here!
So there you have it. My over simplified brainstorm of ideas for youth yoga! If you have any tips from your own teaching experiences please let me know! I am still a beginner on this journey and would love to get feedback and inspiration from you all! Pose suggestions? Books? Inspiration? Hit me! :)
Children’s yoga has definitely been a great way to exercise my creativity as a teacher and the rewards are obvious…Happier, healthier, and more balanced kids! Cheers