By Faye Martins
Yoga teachers soon learn that children are usually more focused on the present than adults are. They aren’t burdened with going over what they did wrong in the past and worrying what could go wrong in the future. In that sense, they’re especially good at learning how to meditate.
Another advantage that children have over adults is that they don’t feel the same embarrassment over trying something new. It can be difficult to teach adult yoga students how to do Lion pose because sometimes they feel awkward at making a face or a noise in public. Not so with children. With more flexible minds, they are open to learning something that feels “great.”
Yoga Journal points out that the details of how to do that differ with the child’s age. For children less than eight years of age, place them in Corpse Pose. Ask them to feel larger parts of the body, since most children don’t know individual body parts yet. You can ask them to make their legs feel tense for 5-10 seconds, and then release them.
For children nine to twelve, you can add a Sun Salutation, which will add in body awareness. Children of this age are able to combine bodily movement with mental exercises, and the Sun Salutation will help develop both mind and body.
Alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodana) is also beneficial for this age group. At this age, concentrate on breath awareness, and skip breath retention until the children are older. Finally, a Mantra like the Gayatri mantra will stimulate a child’s intellect. This age group is most likely to try something that is different and a little bit challenging, so introducing them to Mantras at this stage is ideal.
Teens can try some forms of the practice that mimic adults, but remember that there are some special considerations for this age group as well. Yoga nidra is appropriate for this age group, and you can use the adult form. Teens are perfect for using visualization techniques, from mentally writing the alphabet to constructing their own story.
Some of the most effective methods yoga teachers can give to teens are yogic breath awareness meditations. They can help teens with the hormonal changes going on in their bodies, and to help quiet their minds as they deal with relationships, schoolwork, or any other daily stresses.
Children and teens do suffer from anxiety, depression, stress and it’s important that we teach them methods to alleviate these conditions. Practicing mindfulness, as with adults, is an effective way to do just that.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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