By Gopi Rao
The yoga instructor who teaches children is a unique person. The studio or ashram is always a peaceful part of childhood memories. The yoga teacher should be able to constructively channel the energy of children into a rewarding yoga training session. Adults who practice yoga know that it can be a wonderful way to relieve stress and calm the mind and body. It is a tool used by many of us at the end of long, busy or stressful days. Although we don’t typically associate yoga practice with kids, children can get the same benefits as adults.
If you work with kids or have children of your own, you understand that kids’ energy levels are often high. They seem to run on something other than food and drink. Kids have a boundless energy that is both a blessing and a curse. There are times when calming and focusing will benefit kids, like during particular school lessons, before bedtime or when they need to sit patiently. Yoga postures and breathing techniques can help.
By focusing on the breath, children can forget about all the thoughts running through their heads for a few moments. Deep breathing will calm and rejuvenate kids by getting the blood flowing to all of the body’s organs and sending messages to the glands and tissues to calm down. It’s not realistic to expect kids to sit quietly and meditate for long periods of time, but over time and repetition they can learn a few easy techniques.
Sit in a comfortable position, such as easy pose or “criss-cross applesauce,” as kids may know it. Children should place both hands loosely on the knees. As they inhale, kids should slowly count to five by lifting each of the five fingers on one hand. They should hold the breath for a second and then release the breath by counting slowly backwards from five to one, lowering each finger to keep track. They can repeat this exercise a few times.
Bumble bee Breath
This breathing exercise focuses on making the exhale as long as possible which will in turn cause the children to start taking deeper inhales. Sitting in a comfortable position, ask children to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. As they exhale, they should make a “Zzzzz” sound with their mouth. Kids can also place their hands over their ears, which will encourage them to go deeper inside of their selves for a while.
In addition to the breathing exercises, there are many yoga poses that will encourage kids to be calm and reflective. Child’s pose, sleeping butterfly pose and golden eagle pose will induce a sense of concentration and calm whenever kids need it.
Specialized yoga instructor training for working with children is essential for working with youngsters. Children have a lot of energy and the yoga teacher who helps children should have a creative mind for coming up with creative activities for young students.
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