There is a video I have seen again and again making the rounds on social media. It’s a video of a group of really young children sitting together in a white, serene-looking yoga studio. It’s perfect – soft music is playing in the background as the children sit together on the ground, eyes softly closed and they sway gently side-to-side. Well, I can safely say that sharing yoga with young people probably won’t look anything like that – and that’s ok! In fact, I think the best thing about kids yoga is that it can truly look like anything – and I find that very exciting.
I get asked about my work with young people quite often by other yoga teachers, wondering if it is right for them and whether they should do a kids yoga training. Here are some of my thoughts and the reasons why I think sharing yoga with kids and young people is so important.
It’s one of the few areas in young people’s lives where it isn’t all about ‘achieving’
Kids are put under so much pressure these days. Think schoolwork, homework, after-school clubs, gymnastics, sports, music lessons, learning languages – the list goes on and on. How amazing that in kids yoga you get to celebrate exactly what these young people bring into the room that day. The silly, the creative, the wacky and everything in between – it’s all welcome. When you truly hold space for someone then you get to see them sparkle and flourish right in front of your eyes.
It’s still yoga
We know that yoga is a practice of awareness and stilling the fluctuations of the mind. Well it is for young people too. We use breath, physical postures and guided meditations as tools to slow down our ‘monkey minds’. Of course, the difference is our approach and what I love about kids yoga is that the sky’s the limit. An imagined magic carpet ride around the world on our yoga mats? – sure. Collecting up fluffy balls with our toes to focus our minds and tickle our feet? – absolutely. Slow motion melting like an ice-cream cone (after sharing our favourite flavours) – of course.
You get to play a part in your students’ relationship with self-care as they develop
It is very likely that you will be introducing your students to the importance of rest and taking good care of themselves. I found yoga fairly late on when I was in my mid-twenties and I have often thought how useful these tools would have been growing up, especially going through my teenage years. Well, that is exactly what you get to share. I feel honoured knowing that as my students get older they have ‘tool boxes’ full of techniques and exercises that can be used in their day-to-day lives. Another part of kids yoga classes that I absolutely love is that there is time for chats about feelings, gratitude, how we treat others, how we treat ourselves and other important topics.
It’s super collaborative
Kids yoga is at it’s best when the teacher is brave and lets their students guide the class. You might have the best class-plan but if your students aren’t feeling it that day then my best advice is to take your inspiration from them. Let’s be honest, their imaginations are way better than ours anyway, and often the class ends up better than you could have ever planned for. Something that I teach on the course is the idea of ‘freedom in safe boundaries’. Your job is to hold a safe space for all the creativity to happen around, and you want your students to feel like they can be brave. To be honest, so many things I share in my classes are ‘stolen’ or inspired by my students from over the years.
It’s an opportunity for you to get creative
Are you known for your incredible playlists? Brilliant, now is your chance to use them (and not just ‘kids music’). Secretly love to sing? Well you will now have a class of willing students who would love to sing at the tops of their voices with you – just because it feels great! Are you an artist – perfect! Bring crafts and paints and colouring-in and whatever else you think of and get seriously messy. Are you a master storyteller when you put your kids to bed? Bring some beautiful stories along for rest time at the end. Any skills or passions you have are going to come in handy. I love to dance so I often make time for mini dance parties. They raise our heart rates, can feel great and allow us to get out of our heads.
It’s going to feel, look and sound different to general yoga classes, and that’s ok
Whether you want to teach kids yoga classes, or whether you just want to pull out a yoga mat and share some yoga with younger family members at home, this is the most important thing to remember. Maybe it’s noisy, maybe you get interrupted with questions, maybe they tell you that this pose is ‘boring’ (happens to me all the time). Kids are wonderfully honest but the best part about it is that when they are with you they are truly ‘with you’ and in the moment. There is no faking it – and I think that is really special. They have a point, sometimes yoga is kinda boring, or can feel weird or silly. So it’s your job to change it up, to be flexible and open and really listen.
I can honestly say I have the best job in the world and am honoured to work with such open-minded students who remind me everyday of the importance of fun and play. If you are a yoga teacher or teacher trainee and want to learn more or explore ways of sharing yoga with 3-13 year olds then I will be leading an online 25 hour course 17th-19th September 2021 with Nourish.