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.

Yoga update

Cross-posted on the Yoga Classes page of this blog…

Unwinding, a restorative yoga class, meets Sundays from 5:30-7 pm at Oak Hill Oriental Medicine, 7413 Old Bee Caves Road. We warm up with Sun Salutations, do asanas for low back and neck issues, and move into deeply relaxing, melt-into-the-floor poses, using a variety of props. Your body and soul will love it! $15. For more information, call 512-775-3053 (clinic) or email me at the address on the Contact page of this blog.

The series Beginner’s Yoga, Beginner’s Mind continues for another 12 weeks starting December 1. You can join us any time. We meet on Wednesdays, 7:30-8:30 pm, in a private home in Wells Branch. $10. Please call for more information as space is limited. 512-507-4184.

Contact me if you’re interested in co-creating any of the following classes:

  • Non-Sweaty Office Yoga. I teach a mixed level class at your workplace over the lunch hour. We do deep stretching and strength-building without much sweat, ending with deep relaxation. Includes special poses to counteract heavy computer use, increase energy, and refresh well-being. $10.
  • Yoga for Kids. I teach a 30-minute class for children ages 8 and up. We learn belly breathing and asanas and end with 5 minutes of sitting in silence, which most of them love. I come to your home, classroom, or gathering place. No props used in this class. Rates highly negotiable!
  • Beginner’s Yoga, Beginner’s Mind. I teach yoga to novices. If you find yoga attractive but don’t feel comfortable in a studio or gym, this may be the class for you. We start with what you can do now and build on that. This class helps you gain strength, flexibility, alignment, body and mind awareness, and respect for your body. I come to your home and help you prepare for (or enhance) a home yoga practice or a beginner class at a studio, and I can offer personal attention and adjustments you may not find in a crowded studio or gym yoga class. 12 week minimum, up to 6 students.
  • Unwinding. I teach restorative yoga — passive poses held long, using props for deep stretches and relaxation — in your home or office. Gather family, friends, and neighbors for an evening session in your living room. You supply the mats, I bring the props, we move the furniture. Get rid of unwanted stress and tension you didn’t even know you had! Experience more spaciousness and freedom in your body! Find relief from low back and neck issues as well! 90-minute classes, weekly.

To request a class, ask questions, and/or make a proposal, please call me at 507-4184.