I love teaching yoga to children of all ages. When I was a special education teacher for emotionally disturbed elementary school kids, my students loved how the yoga we did made them feel! It was such a unique feeling for them! They could relax and let go of so much of their angst. Later, teaching at a juvenile detention center was at first a challenge, with all the locked doors and probation officers around at all times. But, on the days I did yoga with the teens, it was recorded that the behavior was always better and more relaxed. Even the staff participated and looked forward to “yoga days”. I also taught breathing techniques and relaxation in a state mental hospital for teens who had tried to commit suicide. The simplicity of being shown how, and then being allowed to let go safely was something they had not ever experienced. And, I especially enjoyed time spent teaching yoga at colleges over the years, with up to 100 students in an enormous room, including the computer department teachers as well as students, the wrestling team, football players, etc., all who were already getting lots of muscular focus, but not in a way that was helping them cope with the stresses of their academic and sports lives. They were very vocal about how yoga was something they would carry with them after they graduated!
Now, as I have mentioned once or twice, I have grandchildren. And now I love to teach yoga to little 5-year olds. What a joy! They are attentive, treat me with respect, and really do learn what I teach them, as is evidenced when their parents approach me and tell me their children come home from yoga and teach them what they learned in class. (That is what I request that they do, and they actually DO it!!!) In Kindergarten, I get to see the germs of body changes. I can see the tension that some young ones carry or the openness that others express. I always marvel at how lucky they are to be getting exposed to yoga at such a young age!!! To learn so early in life that breath is important, that paying attention to your posture and to how you move can make you feel better. To guide them to be able to balance and look internally is definitely a gift for me, as well as for them.
Here are 5 very basic, but important things I teach these little ones:
- Paying attention to your breathing can help you relax and focus.
- The more relaxed you are, the heavier your body feels.
- Your neck and spine move in 6 directions. Always move them in all directlons every day.
- It is easier to stand on one foot if you keep your eyes focused on one spot.
- It feels really good to relax!
These 5 points might seem too simple or obvious. BUT, for little 5-year-olds, these are things that are accessible and easy for them to ponder and actually learn! I always try to teach them things that they can be successful doing and also that they will like well enough that they will remember them. I also teach them the Seated Mountain Pose and my Seated Sun Exercises (see my previous blog or my YouTube video on how to do them.) Eventually I will have another YouTube video with a brief sequence for children! Stay tuned!
If you teach yoga to your children, or any kids, or have any question or comments, feel free to write on my Ask Shoosh page, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.