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April 27, 2015
Challenges for Children in Yoga
Challenges for children who begin a practice of Yoga range from self-consciousness to limitations of physical aptitude and a lack of ability to focus and concentration on the task at hand. The challenges children encounter when they begin practicing Yoga with their peers will depend on the age and health of the children you are instructing. Today, there are many groups and ages of children to whom Yoga instruction is offered in a variety of settings. Some of these groups of children may be developmentally delayed or recovering from serious injuries. These young Yoga students will need specific posture modifications in order for the practice to be accessible to them. As a Yoga instructor, helping children to overcome their specific challenges to practicing Yoga will increase their level of participation and the benefits they receive from the practice.
A primary challenge for teaching small children Yoga is their shorter attention span. On the other hand, young children will be much less self-conscious about practicing the postures with exuberance. Young children love to practice Yoga in fun and creative ways; often emulating the animals they have seen at the zoo, in their own homes or on television. Remember when you teach young children Yoga that their attention spans may not exceed more than a minute or two in each pose. The challenge of being able to focus and concentrate on the postures will be ameliorated by keeping the pace moving quickly from pose to pose and making the class fun and jovial. Keeping young children engaged and active will help them to focus on the task at hand, develop their cognitive abilities and to obtain the most benefit from the Yoga class.
Older children in middle school and high school will contend with a different set of challenges. Some of these challenges may seem trivial to adults but very important to the teenager involved. For example, a fourteen-year-old girl may have forgotten her favorite sweatshirt that would hide a bit of a belly when she has her sweat pants on. She may feel very self-conscious about not being able to hide the extra weight and may refuse to participate in the class. As adults, we may have forgotten how critical the issues of body image and attractiveness are at that age. At any age, really, but most definitely very important as a teenager - Being self-conscious about one's physical abilities and body image will hamper a student's progress in thoroughly engaging in a Yoga class. As an instructor, being sensitive to these issues will help your students to feel safe and their feelings respected, which will usually elicit a greater level of participation in the class.
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