When I was asked to share my thoughts regarding kids yoga, the questions were: Why kids yoga and what does it mean to teach kids yoga?
I discover and rediscover the true meaning of “yoga” when I walk into a room filled with unfiltered, young spirited, energetic, light beams that we call kids. Teaching yoga to kids truly sharpens the “tools” of yoga. Such as teaching kids is to stand in your truth because kids are experts at sniffing out the “untruth” in a heartbeat. Teaching kids yoga comes from the heart and takes authentic integrity and courage. Holding space for our youth, encouraging them to feel safe and allowing them to express themselves creatively whether that means physically, verbally and emotionally means you, the teacher, better be able to do the same while simultaneously walking your talk.
I started teaching kids yoga after I completed the Street Yoga training back in 2011. I jumped right into teaching a class for kids ages 6-10 onsite where I completed my Street Yoga training. I arrived a bit early to arrange the classroom and moved tables and chairs to make space to move and practice yoga. All I knew about the class I was about to teach were that the kids had been removed from their homes and were living at the site. A staff member met me in the room and before I knew it, I had 30 minutes to connect with these kids by sharing a practice that has been foundational and transformational in my life – yoga. Nervous, anxious, excited and “ready”, I dove right in – head first. I put the tools I learned from the Street Yoga training into practice and taught my first class – with sweaty palms, armpits and all. And so the journey of teaching kids yoga began and continues to this day. I furthered my trainings by completing the Next Generation Yoga teacher training certifications for 2-7 and 8-13 olds. It doesn’t stop there. I also completed the Yoga Behind Bars training and the Little Flowers Levels 1-3 yoga and mindfulness trainings.
How do I Approach Teaching Yoga to Kids?
To teach kids yoga means to be able to throw the lesson plan out the window and meet kids where they are at in the moment and that place can be a place of fear, anxiety, land of purple dinosaurs and polka dotted forest filled with rainbow butterflies, or that place can be complete silence. To teach kids yoga means to see, really see, how these kids show up and honor each of them for being who they are in the moment. To teach kids yoga means to be present and show up as your highest self while checking the lesson plan, agenda and ego at the door. To teach kids yoga is really the essence of practicing the 8 Limbs of yoga – especially Ahimsa (compassion) and Satya (truth).
What are the Benefits of Teaching Yoga to Kids?
Teaching kids yoga gives our youth tools and opportunities to explore their feelings, emotions and sense of self. It’s magical to witness a child light up when they are free to express themselves, when they are free to speak and hear power of their own voice, when they are free to hold the hand of the person next to them, when they are free to say no, when they are free to giggle and be silly, when they are free to make requests for stillness and when they are free to completely love themselves.
I now teach kids of all ages from 2 years old and family yoga classes to tweens and teens. I teach at studios, schools preschool rooms and to incarcerated youth at the King County Juvenile Detention Center. To me, teaching kids yoga is the most honorable gift I can give. To provide an hour long journey and witness children go to that “deep place within” where their essence resides is by far one of the most rewarding and profound experiences. Teaching kids yoga is an adventure, an exploration of the self not only for the kids but also for the teacher.[Photo by Georgia National Guard | CC BY]
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