7 things to remember when teaching yoga to kids

Last fall I had an opportunity to teach yoga once a week to 20+ fifth graders for a few months. We didn’t have mats or much space to work in, so after they removed their shoes and gathered on the carpet, I focused on mostly seated and standing poses for 15 minutes.

Very few of them had much experience with yoga. I wanted the students to love yoga as much as I do, and to create a program that might result in them later continuing to practice yoga.

Here are my take-aways from the experience:

1. Keep it simple. Om means “everything that is”. Namaste means “I honor you.” Don’t overwhelm them with Sanskrit and anatomy.

2. Teach them belly breathing. It will serve their lives well to learn it now. Ask about it now and then. After a couple of months, it may become a habit.

3. Leave them wanting more. Keep sessions short and make it fun. Let them experience the joys of yoga. So their downward-facing dog isn’t perfect. They’re 10! Let it be, and let them howl or bark like dogs! There’s plenty of time later for them to perfect their poses if they choose.

4. Pay attention and ask for feedback. Can everyone see? Did everyone hear that? Where do you feel that pose the most? What is hard about that pose? Yoga is about awareness. Foster it.

5. Be inclusive. As with adults, some kids take to yoga more than others. Praise all effort lavishly, and tell them it’s not a contest — yoga is good for every body. After a couple of months, ask them to remember what it was like the first time they did tree or eagle pose. They’ll get it.

6. Ask for volunteers to demonstrate poses after you’ve taught them a few times, and over time, give everyone a chance to demo a pose. They will learn the poses better, knowing they may be in front of the class, and be eager to get in front of their peers!

7. Let them experience sitting in silence for a minute at the end of the class. That may be a revelation — it was for the kids I taught, who begged to sit longer. (We worked up from one minute to five.) They may not get any silent stillness in their lives other than this — and they may really begin to value it at a young age.

If it feels weird and wrong, don’t do it

That’s a quote from Alison Hinks, yoga blogger and graphic artist, in this blog post that starts out being about how college is not for everyone, and ends up with yoga.

That is such a good guideline for yoga students, I’m stealing it and sharing it. I, the yoga teacher, am in my own body, not yours. I do not know what you are feeling, or exactly where your “edge” is. I can sometimes “see” what’s happening, but I can’t experience it the way you do.

Therefore, you are the authority figure for your body.

Alison writes:

In yoga class, in educational decisions, in relationships. Don’t do anything because that is what you’re “supposed to do.” Ever. Evereverevereverever. Live your life from love, excitement, and kindness, but never that fuzzy, unsatisfying place called “supposed to.”

This is the best rule of thumb ever, and especially applicable to yoga students.

When a yoga student does something different because she has listened to her own body, she deserves recognition. It’s not even about how adept you are at a pose. It’s about listening and honoring your body.

Read The case against college here.   

Interview with yoga crone Cora Wen

I only got connected with Cora Wen through Facebook. I forget exactly how. I’ve come to love her posts and her take on yoga.

Now The Magazine of Yoga has published a two-part interview with Cora. This link is to Part 1, where Cora discusses being a yoga crone (along with Angela Farmer, Indra Devi, and other older female yoga teachers), and how they’ve served as role models for how to age well.

As well as race/ethnicity and gender and body differences.

In Part 2 of the interview, Cora talks about being a yoga teacher, chi, and living a life touched by yoga.

Love this quote:

That seems to be the thing my students always say: “You’re just so you.” Well, I want you to be you. I want you to disagree with me. I don’t want you to do what I say. I want you to think for yourself. I want you to be curious. I want you to be playful. I don’t want you just to listen to me. I don’t want you to repeat what I say. I want you to be you. Maybe I can help you see that. Being you is okay.

Read on for Cora’s take on the most important of the Yoga Sutras, and why.

Day 10: Tim Ferriss and The 4-Hour Body. I love teaching yoga. YES!

The three things I’m grateful for today (day 10 of 21) are: Tim Ferriss, teaching yoga, and the word YES.

If you don’t know Tim Ferriss, you should. He wrote a groundbreaking book called The 4-Hour Work Week, which was a huge bestseller. He shared how people can get out of the rat race of working long hours for someone else and find a new lifestyle where the work is mostly remote and delegated.

Tim chose to travel, learn tango, compete in martial arts contests, and write a bestseller after setting up a health supplement company that practically ran on autopilot, which allowed him the time and income to do those things.

I haven’t followed his formula, but it inspired me to come up with a business idea that I could do anywhere I have access to a phone for a few hours a day, with fairly low start-up costs. I may do it yet, so it’s a secret!

What I love about Tim is his plain ol’ brashness. He’s incredibly curious and likes to find out for himself. He’s a pioneer, an explorer, an adventurer, a seeker, a finder, and a sharer. He’s got the energy of a barrel of laughing monkeys. What’s not to like?

He blogs about his experiments in lifestyle design, too.

Tim is back with a new book, The 4-Hour Body. I’ve just started reading it, and I can tell you now, I will learn a lot from it. With access to doctors, scientists, elite athletes, and state-of-the-art measuring equipment for his own personal experimentation, Tim has hacked the secrets to losing weight, gaining muscle, sleeping well, increasing testosterone and sperm count, running faster, reversing “permanent” injuries, and having 15-minute orgasms. So the cover says, anyway!

He shows you how to make tiny changes, starting from where you are now, that are the most effective changes. His key question is:

For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results?

(No wonder this appeals to me: It’s a Maximizer strategy. See my earlier post about finding your strengths.)

I love key questions and will blog about them in the future.

I peeked ahead to see how to lose 20 lbs in 30 days. His formula is:

  • Avoid “white” carbohydrates (or anything that can be white).
  • Eat the same few meals over and over again.
  • Don’t drink calories.
  • Don’t eat fruit.
  • Take one day off per week and go nuts.

And then he gives the fine points.

(Can’t wait until he hacks enlightenment in his next book, The 4-Hour Brain. You listening, Tim?)

Another thing I’m grateful for is that I finally took yoga teacher training and am teaching yoga. It is so gratifying to help motivated people find their way into yoga. Whether they are beginners who want one-on-one personal attention and instruction as they learn, or just want to unwind from stress and experience some deep relaxation, I’m enjoying teaching.

At present, I have one class on Sunday evenings, a restorative class in Oak Hill, and I have a private student who comes to my home after work one evening each week. (Bonus: My cat Mango curled up on top of her during savasana this week! He knows where the good juicy energy is.)

I’d like to teach more. My rates are very reasonable. Private classes are $25 an hour now, and group classes are $10 for 60 minutes, $15 for 90 minutes. If you want a trial session, call me.

You can read more on my Yoga offerings page on this blog.

I am grateful for the word YES. I’ve been getting some very nice YESes in my life lately. Two offers on my house this week, one of which I am getting ready to say YES to — and some folks who were looking at it last night loved it too. Affirmation!

Oh, and according to Patrice,

No is just another way of saying Yes.

So basically, it’s all Yes!

Now offering private yoga classes

I now offer one-on-one yoga classes. I can teach, coach, and help you develop a yoga practice, meeting at my home or traveling to your home.

I love working with beginning students interesting in discovering their “yoga bodies.” I’m good with alignment, having practiced Iyengar for years and taken my teacher training with an Iyengar-certified teacher. I can teach you the preliminary poses that prepare you for more difficult poses.

If your goal is to get stronger,and/or more flexible, to have more fluid movement, to release stress, to develop a daily home routine, or just have more yoga (in the largest sense of the word, connection between your bodymind and the Universe) in your life, I’m available.

I always work with where you are now and move toward where you want to be, adjusting for any issues that may arise.

I love working with beginning students of all ages, conditions, and sizes. That includes true yoga novices as well as those who have had a few studio yoga classes or who have practiced a bit with videos at home at home who want some one-on-one attention.

Because I’d like to get more experience, my rates are very reasonable — $30 for one hour or $120 per month for weekly one-hour sessions, and we can adjust time to more or less than an hour and more or less than weekly. (Traveling to your home costs more to cover the fuel and time.)

Private sessions through Yoga Yoga are $85 per hour, so this is bargain. See the Contact page of this blog for my email address, or call me if interested.

New restorative yoga class, Unwinding

My new yoga class, Unwinding, meets on Sundays from 5:30 to 7 pm at Oak Hill Oriental Medicine, 7413 Old Bee Caves Road, near the “Y” in Oak Hill.

  • We’ll start with a few sun salutations to warm our bodies up.
  • We’ll hold some strategic stretches to lengthen tight muscles.
  • We’ll segue into deeply relaxing poses.
  • We’ll serve decaf yogi tea afterwards.

This class will focus on easing low back and neck issues as well as releasing stress and restoring health. Many props — blocks, blankets, bolsters, belts, sandbags, and eye pillows — will help us with asanas. You just need to bring your mat and your water bottle.

The fee is $15.