These days kids have high pressure from school studies and homework. In addition, most of their sports activities are competitive based. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that is non-competitive. However, there are things to be considered when teaching yoga to kids.
Be sure you like being surrounded by them.
As funny as it might seem, kids can sense this and if you don’t enjoy doing things with them, they most likely will express that. Make sure you enjoy being with children and doing activities with them. Have fun yourself as well. This will help motivate them to attend your class again.
Keep things simple.
Whilst they enjoy exploring the poses, they might not practice the poses “correctly” in terms of alignment. What’s more important is that you keep things simple. More than learning the poses, the yoga experience will encourage kids to explore unfamiliar boundaries with an open mind and be comfortable with their bodies.
Make it fun
As many poses are based on the natural world and use animals and plants for inspiration, remind the kids of the nature of the pose and where it got its origins from. They can imitate the movements and sounds of nature, they have a chance to imbibe the qualities of another living creature and imagine taking on those qualities. For example, when they assume the cobra pose, they experience not only the power and behaviour of the cobra, but they also get a sense of their own power : when to be aggressive, when to retreat. These movements bring the children to yoga’s true meaning: union with the bigger universe whilst having fun.
Shed some light wisdom to bring home
Instead of giving them heavy spiritual philosophy, they can get benefit from some light wisdom at the end of the practice. For example, you may ask them to share on thing that they are grateful for. Their responses may indeed pleasantly surprise you. This will bring them closer to mindfulness in a gentle way, and give them tools to face any challenges they might face in their life.
Keep it short!
Kids have short span of attention, so keep it short and simple. Change the game every 20 minutes or so. Add in a bit of ‘Simon says’ as a game to encourage them into the poses, play some music. Perhaps switch it up and stay quiet and still for a while. The general rule is to keep it short, in order to keep them engaged and interested in the practice.
Bring in other adults or parents
It is usually much nicer to have another adult or the children’s parents participating in the practice now and then. They will further the bond between child and parent.
Whatever tools you choose to build your kids yoga class, make sure you have fun as well! They are tiny sparks of sunshine and to be able to bring that radiance into the world is a great service.
Enjoy the class!