I just got done teaching a kid’s yoga class and I am so inspired, I had to write about it. I’ve been teaching children’s yoga for years and it never ceases to amaze me how they take to it. There are so many stories and examples I could share of kids over the years and things they have said and things they’ve done but today was just one of those days when everything was just clicking.
The kids were 8 years old or so and there were about 10 of them. We started with a quick question and answer around yoga with my asking them what they think of when they hear the word “yoga,” and what does yoga help us with? (Strength, flexibility, focus, breathing, relaxing, stress reduction). Yes, we talked about stress. I asked them what makes them feel stress. Some of their answers:
- When I get into a fight with my brother
- When I’m bullied at school
- When I can’t get to sleep
- When places are really noisy
We started to go into the yoga practice and I shared poses with them, they made up some of their own and then we did a little meditation. During the class, some kids had more of a challenge with focus and we talked about the difference between “focus” and “being silly.” They completely understood and that allowed us to move into some meditation to end the class.
Kids feel stress just like adults. Kids struggle with weight just like adults. Kids struggle to focus and pay attention just like adults. They develop coping mechanisms just like adults too; overeating, tuning out and using video games, TV and computers to avoid dealing with painful feelings.
Yoga for kids addresses all of that and more. Yoga helps kids focus; it shows them how deep breathing can affect their bodies and how they feel. Yoga helps kids build self-esteem by tackling different poses. Yoga helps kids work cooperatively together through the presentation of partner poses. Yoga is a great way to help kids stay active, gain strength and learn to balance. Yoga helps kids relax through deep breathing. Yoga gives kids tools that they can use to process uncomfortable feelings and decrease stress. Yoga increases their awareness of how they feel; something that many adults should develop as a skill.
In today’s class, while we were doing a few minutes of meditation, some of the kids were laughing and having a hard time sitting still. I asked the kids to think of a color and when we opened our eyes, each child said the color that had came to mind. I asked if they found meditation relaxing or stressful. Some of them said “stressful.” When I asked why, they individually started to share feedback about how the behavior of the other children affected them. We had an amazing adult conversation and talked about what we found challenging about meditation and how our behavior can affect other people.
In the context of a 45-minute class, kids built strength, learned how to balance, focus and get stronger. They meditated, worked cooperatively with others, used their imagination to create custom poses and relaxed. As the adult in the room, I was inspired beyond words. I kept thinking, “ I wish someone else was here to see and hear this!” One of my biggest passions is to bring yoga to children; I am grateful every time I teach and inspired beyond words.