By Sangeetha Saran
Kids yoga classes have challenges and rewards. Teaching yoga to a class of children can be a daunting task for any teacher- experienced or otherwise. Learning how to keep it fun is especially important, considering the short attention span of the average child. Kids yoga classes vary in age as well as length, so it is important that teachers tailor their activities with time frame and age capabilities in mind.
Many yoga teachers like to keep their youth sessions traditional, starting out with a chant or OM. Others take that practice and tweak it by weaving a story or song into the beginning of class.
Do warm-up exercises for five to ten minutes. Keep it fun and light-hearted, and keep the kids moving. Encourage physical awareness by asking the students to push their bellies out while inhaling during breathing warm-ups, and make sure to keep the poses short.
Break the class up into segments. Longer classes can be broken down into 15 to 20-minute segments, and shorter classes into five-minute ones. In between segments, do a yoga game like freeze-pose, where children move as fast as they can in different poses until the teacher yells freeze, or downward-facing dog tunnel, where the students form a tunnel with their pose and one by one race underneath it.
The middle of the class is a great time to put together a balance clinic, which is an essential skill for young children to develop, and which works well with the standing and inversion postures.
Choose yoga poses that flow easily into each other. The typical yoga movement still works – salutation poses together, then standing postures like tree and warrior poses together, and then a segment of sitting poses. The progression should get kids from fun and more active poses to quieter, more restful poses.
Take advantage of the fact that many yoga poses are named for animals. Encourage children to come up with animal names for other yoga poses, as well.
The end of a yoga session is a very important time, for children as well as traditional yoga students. Transition into sitting and restful poses to quiet the energy and allow kids time to relax and focus.
Corpse is always a restful pose that teachers can use to finish the session. Combine the corpse pose with an OM or with a visualization exercise, where kids are asked to focus on their breathing and imagine themselves walking through a forest or meeting their favorite person.
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