This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Liziah Woodruff. Liziah is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Teacher said: “Put your hands on your belly and think of a color for your balloon. Breathe in and blow up your balloon; breathe out and deflate your balloon slowly. Breathe in, blow up your balloon–uh oh it pops!” Little mouths with big laughter fill the room. Welcome to the dynamic, creative, challenging, sweet, fun world of Kids Yoga! When I first started studying to be a yoga teacher eight years ago, I knew that translating the magic of yoga to kids was something I wanted to do.
I have been working with kids for most of my life. They follow me everywhere, so I have no choice. I have been a nanny, babysitter, school teacher, god mother and mentor. Adding teaching yoga to my work with children was not too cold, not too hot–it was just right! However it has taken me years of trial and error, study, creative exploration and many, many, many groups of kids to learn how to teach them confidently. And of course I am still learning.
Children’s natural dramatic energy is activated in yoga as the kids and I climb together up mountains, become strong warriors, turn into fierce lions, wise owls, and soaring eagles. Yoga poses named after nature and animals–things kids love–lend themselves to easily connect to kids. There are endless stories and adventures that can be told with yoga poses. I like to make up my own adventures, which always change a little or a lot depending on the group.
I blend my classes with movement, music, story, active and calm poses, and resting at the end of the class. It is very common that the kid who didn’t seem like he would ever want to be still says during the closing circle: “I like resting the best.” Or a shy child that wouldn’t even say her name in the beginning circle becomes the most vivacious volcano of them all. Teaching yoga to kids is a skill. It requires finding the right combination of active and quiet yoga, balancing the shy and expressive personalities, keeping the kids engaged, flowing and in control, and knowing what works for each age group. And believe me some things work and some things don’t. I used to fear three and four year olds, but now I have learned how to teach even them!
Yoga teaches kids how to feel good in their bodies, how to challenge themselves to get stronger, more flexible and hold that tree pose for as long as they individually can. It teaches kids that focus and peace is possible to find within themselves. It inspires them to feel power within, not power over. It shows them that, like the roots of trees in a forest, we are all connected.
I believe the ancient teachings of yoga are modern medicine for our children as well as us. I am excited to have the opportunity to teach what I have learned so far about teaching yoga to kids in the Yoga Teacher Training for Kids Workshop at Whole Life Yoga on July 1st. I hope you will join me there and in a family or kids yoga class soon. Let’s give the gift of yoga to our kids! Let’s thrive and improve our whole selves together.
The light in me sees the light in you. Namaste.
If you would like to see me teaching, check out my kids yoga video, The Changing Star.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!