kids these days are pretty amazing with their college prep. mandarin and ballet on monday. tennis and art on tuesday. spanish and french on wednesdays. don’t forget soccer and cooking every thursday. fridays are set aside for swimming…then rest! only one class! weekends…religious school, gymnastics, sports teams. and the most amazing thing of all…these kids are only in kindergarten.
seems you can’t start that college prep too early.
naturally, these parents would like to see their children in yoga, as well. not only because they would like their kids to be well-rounded individuals (one more activity!), but because their kids are suffering from stress and anxiety (go figure!) and they want me to teach their children stress relief, calming, and grounding techniques.
i love working with these kids (and i have a bunch of them). yoga gives them true life skills and these kids are not just smart, but wise. like little forty-year-olds in four-year-old bodies. more often than not, they are whisked into yoga immediately from another activity and are just as quickly whisked away to the next…sometimes mid-savasana. wonder why these kids are stressed out?
and here’s the frustration: time and time again, the moms wind up cancelling the class because yoga no longer fits in their schedule. there’s no time for yoga–the activity that is meant to decrease the anxiety and stress built up by the myriad other classes and engagements that take up every second of these kids’ lives. no one needs yoga more than these pint-sized powerhouses.
it’s amazing how backwards this line of thinking is. granted, yoga won’t get your kid a college scholarship or earn him huge piles of money when he grows up (unless, god forbid, he becomes a yoga instructor), but it will give him the life skills to deal with life’s challenges and stresses and live a mentally stable and balanced life.
if you ask me, i think yoga should be the most important activity these kids do all week.
of course, i’m just a little bit biased…
so, i have this class that currently has four little girls in it, ages 3.5 -5. and a five-and-a-half year old boy tried out the class. an older man.
it was enough of an event that all the girls actually put shorts on under their cute pink skirts in a rare act of modesty. some had skorts, as i was informed. whatever it was, this boy wasn’t going to get to see any undies today.
at first he came into the room and hid behind mom. so many girls! and such big eyes they all had…all on him!
this boy was cute. tall (at least three feet!), curly hair, nice eyes. it didn’t go unnoticed by anyone.
all of a sudden all of the girls started showing off…doing poses for the new boy, big smiles. i pretty much lost all control of the group, as he inched his way sheepishly onto his mat…the best i can explain it was awe and wonderment. like he had just walked into a four-ring circus. but, even better, he got to be a part of the circus.
he immediately and full-heartedly joined in the melee, his harem buzzing around him, the king bee.
anyway, the class itself was in a bit of chaos, but the boy…couldn’t wait to come back. overall, a big success. some yoga was done and a little boy was won over…partly by me, but mostly by my little princesses.
there’s a story about mahatma gandhi that one day a woman came to him and said: gandhi-ji (or whatever she called him), my son has such a bad habit. he will not stop eating sugar! i have brought him with me today. he won’t listen to me, but i know he’d listen to you. if you would just tell him to please stop eating sugar, i know he would stop.
gandhi (probably) smiled (i mean, i wasn’t there…perhaps he wasn’t smiling, but i think he was), and said: take your son back home and come back in six months. at that point, i will tell him to stop eating sugar. she left.
six months passed and she returned with her son. gandhi simply looked at him and said: stop eating sugar. and the boy stopped.
but the mother couldn’t understand…why did she have to wait six months for him to say that? “because,” gandhi answered, “first i had to stop eating sugar myself.”
as a children’s yoga instructor, you have this magical gandhi-like power to change the way your students behave and feel. because you establish a non-threatening, non-didactic, yet still extremely wise relationship and they are often more willing to listen to you than their own parents.
but are you walking the walk? or just talking the talk?
this new year’s, i encourage you to look at the habits that you are trying to break…and every time you remind your students to live better lives, step back and remind yourself as well.
i’m here to talk about yoga for kids. but if you want to talk about yoga in general, i can do that, too. in fact, if you want to talk about life in general, that’s cool. we can even talk about the entire universe–in general–if you like. or we can just talk about yoga for kids.
i’ve been teaching kids yoga since early 2002, when i left business school and corporate america to roll around on the floor with children instead. best thing i’ve ever done.
so, for now, i’ll tell you what i can of what i know about working with kids. it’s a lot. though what i really recommend is that you attend one of my mini yogis teacher trainings around the world so you can teach everyone else all the fabulous things you know, too.
more than anything, working with kids is fun. teaching them yoga is amazing. and i’m incredibly blessed to be here.
so, hi. and namaste. and all that good stuff,
for solstice, i had my class do the traditional 108 sun salutations. er…classes…three classes to be exact. and i did it with them. let’s do the math. 108 x 3 = 324. i did 324 salutations in a day. 327 if you count my class of kindergartners that day.
if you’ve never embarked on your own 108, it’s really not that bad. you get a break every 27, and it really flows quite easily. once the bitching and moaning die down, people are generally amazed at how manageable the whole process was. and they all want to wear their “i did 108” stickers with great pride.
anyway, the first 108 didn’t feel like much at all. second 108, i’m getting a bit tired. third 108, a great test of my poker face. let’s just say that when i got to my final client that night, i couldn’t have made it from plank to chatauranga without a broken nose being involved.
anyway, don’t think this is some form of child abuse or something. having your kids do (or at least attempt) 108 salutations is a great way for them to build perseverance, patience, and pride. fight the resistance!