‘Every student can learn, just not on the same day or the same way’ George Evans.
Kids are enthusiastic learners, but they are also hard to work with, especially when it comes to teaching them yoga. So, never start the class by asking them to form a line or so on. Start with a little play and prayer, then do some fun warm-ups. Teaching yoga to kids is different; you have to keep up with their energy, emotions, and ensure that they are having fun also.
Teaching yoga to kids is a novel idea. Though yoga is beneficial for kids of all ages, research also suggests that yoga practice is particularly helpful for kids with special needs. Today, you have Yoga teacher training courses for Kids Yoga as well as for teaching Kids with Special Needs and Autism.
If kids engage in this, they will inculcate a healthy habit early in their life, which is essential. Don’t we all wish that we had started working out sooner? It is not just about strength and flexibility, it is about developing a positive attitude, emotional balance, confidence, and self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Yes, teaching yoga to kids can pose a bit of a challenge, but at the end of the day, you are ensuring that kids learn the importance of building healthy habits and learn the importance of breathing and establish a deeper mind-body connection. As adults, we learn how to deal with stress but kids are often clueless and don’t know how to handle stress. The biggest advantage of kids yoga classes is nurturing their productivity in a non-competitive environment and teaching/showing them how to relax and stay calm instead of throwing tantrums!
Overwhelmed thinking how to do that? Well, the below tips are perfect for both a mom and a yoga teacher.
Have a flexible class
Don’t be stubborn about your set plan for the yoga class, as children have a different energy. Whether you are a teacher teaching a whole class of kids yoga or a mother trying to get her kid to start yoga, remember they are kids. Their concentration and energy level are quite different from young students and adults. So, whatever you have in your mind about the class, something entirely different may happen. Thus, try to be flexible and have a backup plan. Just go with the energy of the kids and keep a basic plan in mind and go with the flow.
As long as kids enjoy yoga and get in some asanas and exercise, it’s good. Kids are quick learners, so never worry about the class pace.
Keep the fun alive
Yoga is imperative for health and our overall well-being. But it doesn’t have to overpower ourselves so much that we forget to have fun. When you start teaching yoga to kids, you will realize that they too have plenty to teach you. Children are full of fun and have something creative going on in their heads all the time. Use that creativeness to your advantage and have fun so that the kids engage more with yoga.
‘Like reading, yoga allows us to go on a magical journey using our imaginations.’
For instance, one day, you can have the class at the park or in your backyard, and in the last 10 minutes, they can run around or play on the swings. Or you can include a bit of dancing or Zumba session in your yoga to keep things light for the kids.
Don’t worry about the alignment too much
Yoga poses are difficult, and it takes a while to master them. So, go easy on the kids. As long as they are having fun, are safe, and doing it correctly, don’t worry about whether the alignment is 100% correct or perfect.
Sure, you need to guide them towards the right posture, but slowly and not force them to be perfect at it in one day. If their legs are not at 90 degrees but in between 60-90, it is okay. As long as they are trying and you are guiding them gently, they will get there.
It’s all about providing them with a positive experience that hopefully, they will keep with themselves. If the kids continue yoga when they are adults, their forms will become perfect. But at the age, the goal is to help them nurture a habit that they also love.
Décor is important
The room where the kids are practicing yoga and mindfulness should be fun and full of colors. Don’t keep it dull or neutral or white as you would keep for adults. Have lots of pictures and print out fun and motivational posters using Canva. Place it everywhere in the class so that kids can read them and feel inspirational and have fun.
Don’t expect the kids to perform hard postures from the get-go. Start with basic warm-ups. Start with a few jumping jacks, jogging, elbow rotation, rope skipping, and so on. They are fun, and kids love doing them. After that, help them increase their concentration level by working on their breathing. Use yoga books for children and read from them. It has simple names for every posture that the kids should learn, using a few Sanskrit words won’t hurt either.
Teach them mythology and how kings and rishis used yoga to live a long and happy life. Teach them the power of meditation and make them focus on their breathing. A simple chant and breathing in and out in the starting will do the trick for them.
A positive reward system goes a long way
A simple good job for a great tree pose won’t suffice with the kids. They need more, so go fun with your feedback. High-fives or feedback like ‘her/his yoga pose is perfect, better than me’ or so on will help kids perform better and feel good. If they feel appreciated, they will put in more hard work and dedication. A friendly competition doesn’t hurt either.
You can create a reward system. For instance, have a competition of who can complete 30 jumping jacks without stopping and reward the kid with a star or a certificate or candies for finishing the task at hand.
Go nuts with your ideas, but keep in mind that whatever you do, the kids should enjoy it and most importantly, be safe.
Have a list of basic ground rules
Rules are important when it comes to performing yoga correctly and safely. So, set some ground rules, nothing hard, just basic ones. For instance, no talking while meditating, or staying on your mat, and having fun are pretty nice rules to follow in a kid’s yoga class.
Yoga can help kids increase their concentration level, stay fit, and make new friends (If they join a class). If you are thinking of becoming a yoga teacher for kids or want your kids to start learning this ancient art, these tips will help. Just remember that with kids, teaching yoga will be a bit different.
Don’t worry about the technique so much in the beginning. Worry about making sure that the kids are comfortable and enjoying themselves. If they are, gradually they will excel because kids are fast learners.
Don’t get intimidated while teaching kids. These tips and your expertise and resilience will pay off.