There was one year when the teen class was filled with girls who would fall asleep at the end of class in savasana. This Friday afternoon class was a perfect end to a hectic week, where seemingly every minute was filled with non-stop activities. This yoga class was the one opportunity the children had to be still. To focus on the breath. To simply be.
In an age of constant interaction, where we are expected to be available to our friends and colleagues 24/7, teaching our children to take time to close off the world in order to check in with themselves is crucial to their wellbeing. We all need balance in our lives, and as we are raising our children in an era of constant, mind-numbing interaction, that is where the need for contemplation and yoga practice comes in.
No matter what our age, a consistent yoga practice can help us learn to breathe through life’s more trying times, whether we are navigating the playground or the office.
For the young athlete, the benefits of yoga are increased flexibility and strength, while cultivating a quiet peaceful mind. Yoga helps the young artist get out of her head and into her body, which translates to a freer and more confident performance.
You may be wanting to share the benefits of yoga with the children in your life. Here are some simple suggestions for putting the OM back into Home!
- Take time to practice daily. Even 5 or 10 minutes a day can bring a lot of harmony into the home and the classroom.
- Create a safe environment. Clean floor, with no sharp objects or corners to bang into Foster an emotionally safe environment as well, ensuring that all students feel they are important members of the group.
- Create a calming environment. Eliminate distractions like computers, televisions and cellphones. Turn off overhead lights, and allow fresh air to circulate. Take off shoes and socks to stretch out feet. Wear comfortable clothing that don’t restrict movement.
- Ask the students to check in with themselves, before and after the practice. Ask them how their body is feeling, and how their heart and brain are feeling. They don’t have to share, but they may wish to share with the class what has brought them here today. It’s always very humbling to me to hear what is going on in my students’ lives and how they are making an effort to help themselves feel better, physically, mentally, emotionally, through a weekly yoga practice.
- Show the poses simply. There is no right or wrong in doing the poses, as long as students are safe and can breathe freely and feel strong and happy. .
- Keep the class short and sweet. Preschoolers may be able to stay focused for 15 minutes, before a storytime or music break. Teenagers are often able to practice for an hour or longer. Encourage frequently resting, and make sure to include a final relaxation…this is the most important part!
- In order to foster a sense of community and a creative atmosphere, try not to compare students to each other. Yoga, thankfully, is not a performance.
- Remove any preconceived notion as to how the class will transpire! Meet your children where they are at. If they have a lot of energy, they may enjoy sun salutations. If they are exhausted, then a guided relaxation may be just the thing.
- Everyone enjoys story-time! Choose stories (or current events for older children) that emphasize elements of community, individual strength, open heartedness, and generosity that tie into the practice of yoga.
- Remember the fundamentals of yoga: cultivating love and respect for ourselves and the world around us.