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April 27, 2015
How to Create Focus and Purpose in a Kids Yoga Class
By Donna K Freeman
Teaching yoga to kids is a vastly different endeavor than teaching yoga to adults. Their attention span is short, they don't want to sit for any length of time, and there is a wide variety of physical, emotional and mental abilities. It is essential that each class cater to these needs by including an assortment of activities to maintain interest and engage as many senses and learning modalities as possible.
A routine is also necessary to truly allow your students to thrive. Before embarking on any children's yoga class be clear about your routine. Break down the time into short segments. Typically it may look something like this.
Elements of a Kids Yoga Class
Class theme: For each class choose a theme. A thematic approach is essential at this age as it provides a mental framework and social/emotional/environmental reference for the yoga session. Link all your activities back to the theme. The book Once Upon a Pose includes 10 fully developed thematic yoga classes with music and literature in both English and French making this an easy task.
Introduction: Use something you feel will set the stage and let the little ones know it is time to start yoga class. A song works well.Sing the song at the beginning of each class. Use this to help them know it's time to go to their mats, join in with the singing and get ready for yoga.
Breathing: Teach some form of child friendly pranayama. Remember Thich Nnat Hanh's advice, "Smile, breathe and go slowly." It is good for children to learn to calm and center themselves.This will take repeated and consistent effort. Go slowly and enjoy the journey.
Asanas: The bulk of the lesson may be spent doing a variety of yoga poses. The Alphabetical List of Poses is a great place to start. I enjoy allowing the children to generate the ideas spontaneously according to the theme whenever possible. In this way they take ownership of the pose and become more fully engaged in the class.
Meditation & Chanting: Ifa simple meditation or a chant works into your theme by all means teach your class these valuable skills. Don't be afraid to use Sanskrit even if your young charges don't audibly repeat the words. The exposure to the exercises, rhythm of the language and feeling these activities generates will touch their hearts and minds.
Crafts, Games, Books & More: Any number of supplemental activities, such as crafts, coloring pages,games, songs and books, can be used during a kids yoga class. These activities stimulate the senses and involve additional learning modalities. As well, they help to keep the pace moving and provide endless variety.
Final Relaxation: Savasana (corpse pose) with a guided visualization which reinforces the concepts covered in class or a progressive muscle relaxation is the perfect way to end a kids yoga class. Keep encouraging them to lie still, close their eyes, and keep their thoughts to themselves. You may have to move children away from a friend or encourage them to relax with a touch, a stuffed animal, an eye pillow, etc. Again this is a learned skill and all children will get better at it with practice.
Namaste: Always end with the same respect and gratitude that you would in any yoga class.
By following this basic outline yoga instructors are able to supply the routine necessary for children to understand what will happen each week in yoga class while providing enough variety to keep it interesting and engaging their minds, bodies and spirits. Good luck and enjoy playing yoga!
Author of Once Upon a Pose: A Guide to Yoga Adventure Stories for Children, Donna Freeman is a yoga instructor, teacher, mother of four, and honey to 1. She has been doing yoga since 1997 and teaching it since 2002. Passionate about yoga for kids and teens, she loves showing parents and teachers how to share the joy of yoga with children of all ages. Visit https://www.yogainmyschool.com/ for all you ever wanted to know about yoga for kids and teens. You can also access THE PET STORE, a FREE download and the easiest, most effective way to teach kids yoga. More fantastic ideas can be found on YogaInMySchoolTV on YouTube.
https://yogainmyschool.com/yoga-101/pose ... -of-poses/
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