In the past, I have been asked to teach yoga for kids and I have filled in for instructors for kids’ dance classes. Working at the YMCA, it was only inevitable that I would teach yoga to kids in some way, shape, or form. I did a yoga session for the Martial Arts Kids Camp that did not go very well. A few kids were into it; the rest pretty much ignored me. This was not totally unlike teaching adults, but adults tend to want to do exactly what the instructor is doing.
I was also asked several times to teach yoga to kids, but declined (or deferred) because of my busy schedule. I also declined because I had no idea how to make yoga friendly to kids. I had a few ideas about how to use animal poses to engage kids, but from there my imagination failed me.
The biggest challenge for me in the Kids training is that because I don’t spend a lot of time with kids, I have forgotten the markers of childhood—the aspects of learning and the permission to play. After taking Yoga Fit for Kids, I finally have a clue. I’m not saying that I plan to run out and teach yoga for kids. But I better see the value in teaching yoga to kids. Besides the benefits of relaying tools for managing stress and regulating emotions, I understand the role that stories play and the ways that games can be used to engage kids in yoga.
I also saw many parallels in my mind/body fitness dance as well as the other training I took in Palm Springs—Yoga For Warriors: PTSD. In mind/body fitness dance, we encourage participants to play and (re)discover their bodies while connecting to their minds. In Warriors and kids yoga we let participants find their way into a pose. We downplay the alignment cues and let them find ease and comfort in each pose.
I try to incorporate elements of play and ease into all my yoga classes. I try to give my participants structure and freedom. I try to teach them new things—new ideas, new poses, new sequences. At my YogaFit Kids training, I was reminded how important these elements are in yoga, and life, more generally. Play and ease are aspects of yoga that we should all embrace—even if we aren’t tapping into our inner child.