By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Yoga classes are being offered on a regular basis to children and young adults, especially since studies have linked Yoga practice for children to fewer behavioral problems and greater academic achievement in school. However, kid’s classes need adaptations in order for children to derive the same benefits that adults do from Yoga.
Kids Yoga Challenges
Teaching a youth Yoga class can be a very rewarding opportunity, but it also presents its own challenges.
- Children have shorter attention spans and can be less focused than their older counterparts.
- Kids who have recently been released from school will have extra energy to burn, which may make behavior problems an issue.
- Most young people are not able to hold Yoga poses as long as mature adults can, so pose and timing adaptations are needed in youth classes.
- Some kids’ Yoga classes contain a wide mixture of ages, ranging from children as young as five or six on up to young adults in their teens, presenting a special challenge of behavioral and attention issues.
- Eager kids tend to move quickly within Yoga poses, and their lack of focus coupled with abrupt movements can lead to a higher risk of injury.
Addressing these Challenges
One of the best ways to address the particular challenge of teaching Yoga to kids is to incorporate stories into the class. Not only does weaving stories into the series engage the attention of children, but it also encourages them to focus their minds on something external, which can naturally help to settle the excess energy of children. Yoga stories are also particularly well-adapted for pose changes within a series and can aid a Yoga instructor in shortening posture holds for children.
Using kids Yoga stories is also a great way to teach lessons about breathing or relaxation. As a result, children will tend to move through poses slower as they listen to the rhythmic cadence of a story for children. Yoga teachers who struggle with a wide range of ages can also assign older kids more responsibility like story reading or coming up with alternative, creative pose names to reinforce the theme or story focus within the class.
Tips for Kids Stories
Stories are a chance to let kids access their imaginative powers, making class a fun and exciting place to visit. Yoga teachers should make every effort to introduce new stories, or a series of stories on varying themes, in order to keep the experience novel. Yoga stories should also be fun and allow interaction between the kids and the instructor in order to better capture each child’s attention.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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