The 10 Commandments of Teaching Kids Yoga
Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash
- Yoga has to be fun!
- Children learn through fun!
- Veggies are good for you, but if you don’t have teeth to chew them you need to blend/ soup/juice them. Yoga is good for you, but you have to make it digestible for the people you teach.
- If the class is boring there is simply not going to be a class; if the children have a choice they will not come again and there won’t be a class. If they are made to come by their parents or as a part of the school or summer camp curriculum they will disturb your class, and there won’t be a class either.
- Give yourself the freedom to re-invent yoga, re-name poses and invent new ones… the only rule is that it has to feel good.
- Yoga is much more than yoga! Anything can be yoga! Make any game, dance or even soccer yoga, by putting some yoga poses there or simply moving and breathing through it with more awareness.
- For older children, fun is not enough… the class also has to be COOL! ‘Cool’ is anything a child can take from the class to show off to their friends.
- Play ‘cool’ music. Music is a language. If you play their music you’ll connect to them. Use music to create the atmosphere in your class. Play exciting music when you want them to move. Play quiet music when you want them you relax.
- And fun is not a frivolous thing. Fun always involves other people, it is a social endeavor, and besides being stress relieving it is also a place where we can learn all of life’s lessons such as communication, trust, consent, negotiation, compromise and much more.
2. It is always more fun to do yoga TOGETHER!
- Bring people together through partner and group poses, games, massage etc. It is a huge added value to just doing yoga poses on your own!
- We are social animals and we learn life’s lessons by interacting with other people. When doing yoga together we can stretch farther than we can by ourselves, and balance in ways we cannot on our own.
- Almost always practice in a circle. In a circle there is no first or second, we are all on the same level as opposed to the traditional class setting, where all of the children stand facing the teacher. In a circle, we can see everyone and everyone can be seen by each other – this is community!
3. CO-CREATE the class with your students!
- Allow time for the children to be creative. Give them choices. For example, in a yoga journey, ask the children “how do you want to get there?” and, “what do you see there?”, “What do you want to work on today?” This process transforms the class from ‘your class’ to ‘our class’. In this environment, children will develop more of an invested interest in making the class work.
- Children are empowered by making choices. Give more control to receive more control. When you let them be the leaders, they repay you by letting you be the leader when it is your turn to lead.
4. Start from WHERE THEY ARE!
- If you do this, there is no limit to what you can achieve with the children; if you are set on starting from where you had planned, from the level you believe they should be, or from where they were last week, you will simply miss the mark.
- If the class is too easy, it is going to be boring, and if the class is too difficult, children are going to get frustrated. Remember, success builds success!
- Go with the flow and follow the children’s lead. Come with a plan, but don’t get tied to it. Always look at the children, not at the class plan.
- Each child is an individual and learns and progresses at their own pace; the more you understand that children are not all the same, the better teacher you will be.
5. NEXT NEXT NEXT!
- Don’t insist on anything. If a pose or a game is too difficult or too boring and you see that children are not engaging, immediately let it go as if it never happened, and move on to the next thing. Think in associations…
- Never stop, even for a second!
6. LAW OF THE JUNGLE!
- Whatever the nature of the children’s energy on a given day, you need to give more of it for the children to follow your lead, you need to be louder, more dramatic, faster, and crazier than them and totally out there! If you are not all of this, they will follow someone else in the group who is.
- Give everything you have in every class! Be dramatic, use your voice, be everywhere all the time, fill up the space with your voice and with your energy. You are a superstar! A rock star! Let yourself shine!
7. Building COMMUNITY!
- Make the children your friends; this works much better than using shouting or intimidation to have the children do what you tell them to.
- Come at least 15 minutes before and stay for at least 15 minutes after. Be interested in the children’s stories and note their likes and dislikes.
- Always use the child’s name and bond with each child in a personal way.
- Create a community for the parents too. Being a parent can sometimes be an isolating experience. People don’t just come to the class because you are a great teacher; they also come for the social part of it. Share a contact list and encourage conversation among parents.
- Be kind to everyone! Don’t be too strict with anything. You never lose by giving.
8. Keep your RULES at all costs!
- Freedom within safe boundaries…
- If you don’t keep your own rules, there are no rules. Rules are hard to keep, so don’t have many. Keep the one rule - respect! Mutual respect… if you respect the children they will respect you, if you listen to them they will listen to you, if you let them lead they will let you be the leader etc.
- Or the one rule Kindness - It is less authoritative than ‘respect’ and it speaks more to the heart. Guide kids to listen to their hearts and feel what is the right thing to do. When given a choice, we should always pick the kinder one.
- Don’t talk to the walls! Never give instructions when no one is listening. Always gather the children’s attention first, and only then give instruction.
9. The MAGIC OF TOUCH!
- Touch is the first form of communication. Babies who do not receive touch fail to thrive. Children and grownups that lack affectionate touch in their lives can develop all sorts of psychological and social issues.
- Touch is magic! We receive love through a touch more than through any other sense. Touch is the fastest, most effective way to connect people.
- Touch can solve all discipline issues. Make an unruly child your assistant and place them next to you in the class; if they do anything out of line, you don’t even need to say anything, just put a hand on their back and everything will be in order again. Try and see for yourself!
10. Make it BEAUTIFUL!
- We get nourished by beauty just as much as we do through the intake of food and water. Yoga is so beautiful, especially when we do it together!
- When we move beautifully, we move with more awareness. This makes it more yoga!
Well, lots to absorb! Try it in your classes and let us know how it went.
With lots of love from Rainbow Kids Yoga.