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What is required to teach a Yoga class to children? I am a practitioner of Yoga and a teacher in a middle school. I do some dabbling in leading a class for students(very limited). I work with students with special needs and want to teach Yoga to a wider audience of children. What are my first steps in pursuing teaching classes to children especially those with ADHD and OCD and ODD?
You wrote such blissful things about the benefits of yoga training for children, but you ended with a sharp comment for parents who wish to keep their children from the benefits of happiness, good exam scores and learning how to live a healthy lifestyle. Sadly, these people exist and they raise their hatefulness for all to be afraid to say gestures of kindness.
I am a Hindu and I have no wish to influence a Christian, Moslem or Jew to become a Hindu. During Christmas season, I wish everyone a "Merry Christmas." Someone said to me last Christmas in a store at the checkout, "Don't wish me a Merry Christmas! I am not a Christian." My answer was this, "Neither am I, but you can't stop me from saying Merry Christmas."
Now you are thinking, what am I on about and what does it have to do with these lovely parents in Encinitas? Here is my point: These people want to make us afraid to show gestures of kindness. I have friends from all religions and religion is not the problem. Simply put: These negative people want us to shut up and live with a dark cloud over our heads because they are very unhappy and they find some attorneys without ethics to do their bidding. Be happy, smile at them, and wish them good tidings because they must learn they cannot rain on every parade. As we say to each other: Namaste! We practice and teach yoga, but unfortunately, it makes some people very angry.
Yoga Is For Children, Too
The practice of yoga can provide a wealth of physical, mental and emotional benefits. However, these benefits are not limited to adults who have pursued years of serious study. Children as young as 4 or 5 can enjoy and benefit from yoga as well, if matched with a willing and patient teacher.
Several studies have already demonstrated the benefits children can derive from yoga. In fact, they can see most of the physical benefits that adults see, including improved posture and breathing, better body alignment and refined muscle control.
However, the mental and emotional benefits may be even more valuable. In a world where children are increasingly over-stimulated, and attention spans are shortening, yoga can improve concentration. It can also develop calmness and awareness, and foster creativity. Lastly, yoga can help children build confidence and self-esteem.
Make Things Fun
Especially for younger children, the test of whether an activity interests them is simply, "Is it fun?". To keep things fun, you will want to limit the time spent in each pose, and the overall time spent practicing. Active children will not turn into quietly composed yogis overnight. Limit each pose to one minute, and understand that their attention will begin to wander after 15 to 20 minutes of practice. That is okay. Even twenty minutes of practice per day can yield positive benefits.
Children will find many basic poses fun to try, especially if you give them fun, descriptive names (e.g. "Superhero pose"). What children will not find fun is spending time getting their feet and hands into the technically correct positions. With younger children especially, the teacher must be willing to accept "close enough." Of course positioning is very important in the practice of yoga, but when tempted to offer a minor correction, just remind yourself that what they are doing is still better than sitting in front of the television.
Patience is a Virtue
One word that appears often in this article is "patience." It requires some patience to teach yoga to children, but the benefits are well worth it. While their technique may not be perfect (especially at first!), when you begin to see your child become calm, gentle and patient, your hard work will all feel worthwhile.
Yoga in Schools
Lastly, I want to a address the parents in Encinitas, California who stand against yoga in schools. Thank you for raising your hand to let the world know what you are and what you stand for! Really! Do you need a greedy lawyer to enforce your doctrine of intolerance into the lives of parents who want the best for their kid? Yoga delivers healthy, happy, intelligent and tolerant children with social skills.
Kids, who have parents that care, need to learn safe exercise routines, a method of focusing that yields better academic performance, healthy eating, nonviolence, and how to concentrate on their studies. Any parent that makes an excuse to create ignorant, intolerant and unintelligent children, is fanning the flames to create the next generation of uneducated bullies, thugs, criminals and sub-human brutes. To knowingly desire your children a life of intolerance and conflict, while using religion as a tool for division, is completely irresponsible. It's people like these parents who breed dogs for fighting!
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