I looked forward to the opportunity with confidence—after all, I'd been teaching yoga to adults for quite a while, had two young children of my own, and had taught creative writing for several years in various Los Angeles schools. But after two classes with a group of 3 to 6-year-olds, I had to seriously reevaluate my approach. I needed to learn to let go the very practice I had been preaching for years of my agenda and my expectations of what yoga is and is not.
When I began to honor the children's innate intelligence and tune in to how they were instructing me to instruct them, we began to co-create our classes.
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We used the yoga asanas as a springboard for exploration of many other areas—animal adaptations and behavior, music and playing instruments, storytelling, drawing—and our time together became a truly interdisciplinary approach to learning. Together we wove stories with our bodies and minds in a flow that could only happen in child's play.
The kids began to call me Mrs. Yoga, and I called them Yoga Kids. We continued to work and play together until our creations bloomed into a program called YogaKids. The program combines yogic techniques designed especially for children using Dr.
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Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner, an author and professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, describes eight intelligences innate in all of us—linguistic, logical, visual, musical, kinesthetic, naturalistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal—and emphasizes that children should be given the opportunity to develop and embody as many of these as possible.
In keeping with this theory, YogaKids integrates storytelling, games, music, language, and other arts into a complete curriculum that engages the "whole child.
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Most of all, our program engages the entire mind, body, and spirit in a way that honors all the ways children learn. If you're planning to teach yoga to kids, there are a few general things to know that will enhance your experience.
Empowering Kids to Move Mindfully Through the World
The greatest challenge with children is to hold their attention long enough to teach them the benefits of yoga: stillness, balance, flexibility, focus, peace, grace, connection, health, and well-being. Luckily, most children love to talk, and they love to move—both of which can happen in yoga. Children will jump at the chance to assume the role of animals, trees, flowers, warriors. Your role is to step back and allow them to bark in the Dog Pose, hiss in the cobra, and meow in cat stretch.
They can also recite the ABCs or s as they are holding poses. Sound is a great release for children and adds an auditory dimension to the physical experience of yoga. Children need to discover the world on their own. Telling them to think harder, do it better, or be a certain way because it's good for them is not the optimal way.
Instead, provide a loving, responsive, creative environment for them to uncover their own truths. As they perform the various animal and nature asanas, engage their minds to deepen their awareness.
When they're snakes Bhujangasana , invite them to really imagine that they're just a long spine with no arms and legs. Could you still run or climb a tree?
In Tree Pose Vrksasana , ask them to imagine being a giant oak, with roots growing out of the bottoms of their feet. Could you stay in the same position for years? If you were to be chopped down, would that be OK? I never get anything right. Originally Published on sitename. Sign up Reader Interactions. Skip links Skip to content Skip to footer. Mary Sauer.
How to Just Be You During Yoga Practice
Lately, it seems like everyone is talking about yoga and how great it makes them feel. Could yoga be a good choice for kids as well as adults?
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Continue reading to find out. When yoga was practiced by high-stress students, their stress levels not only lowered but they also performed better in school. According to PBS, yoga can be instrumental in teaching children to listen to and care for their bodies. These are self-care strategies everyone can benefit from and that children can continue throughout their life.
A daily yoga and mindfulness practice teaches children to be aware of the connection that exists between their mind, emotions, and body. I never get anything right. Originally Published on sitename. Sign up Reader Interactions. Skip links Skip to content Skip to footer.
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