Adults are not the only ones that need to exercise. Yoga teacher training is beginning to put emphases on children and their need for exercise too. Studies show that children should have at least one hour of physical activity each day. Yoga teaching is another source of exercise for children. Yoga can provide exercise and it also helps our kids relieve stress and improve their concentration levels. Our children will have the benefit of more flexibility, strength, coordination and body awareness.
All yoga practice should include deep breathing and warm-up exercises. Breathing exercises will help children develop focus and concentration skills. The most basic breathing in yoga is Ujjain breath and it can be compared to the sound of the ocean. With yoga teaching you can have the children pretend that they are sitting on the beach while the learn how to focus their awareness and control their breathing. There are other techniques that you can use with breathing like the lion pose where the children can begin with sitting up and roaring like a long. These breathing techniques help to relieve any tension in the body.
Most of the yoga poses that we practice are named after what they tend to look like, such as animals. Children will always find animal poses fun to try. Some of these poses such as cobra pose, downward facing dog, cat pose, dolphin pose and sphinx are all easy enough for them to practice and easy for them to imagine. Some poses like crane and peacock may require a little more strength and balance to master but sometimes it is easier for children to do than adults. Children may need to be reminded to be aware of their breathing through some of their poses.
Cobra Pose-Teaching children how to do the cobra pose involves having them use their imaginations. Begin by demonstrating the pose and then have children follow you through it. You can have them add hissing and slithering into the pose as they extend the crown of the head upward. They need to move through the pose as though they have no arms or legs.
Lion Pose-This pose is fun for children because they can pretend to be lions and roar repetitively. This allows for them to experience the lion’s power and their own sense of power and control.
Elements of Nature
The Ujjain, or ocean breath, and many other pose names are also things found in nature. Some of the simple nature poses that all levels can practice, even children, are tree pose, mountain pose, bridge pose, staff pose and lotus. Children can count and practice their ABC’s while they hold different yoga poses. Children that need a challenge can also try bow pose which will put them into a deep back bend or half moon pose where they need to balance on one hand and foot.
Tree Pose- is something where children can use their imagination. You can invite them to picture a giant tree and the roots of it are growing strong out of their feet and into the ground. While they are holding the pose you can ask them things like, “Could you stay in this position for the next 100 years?” They can pretend to be a strong tree that grows to be very old.
Adults need to make sure through yoga teaching that they always have a cool down after a good workout and children do too. There should always be at least 10 minutes at the end of yoga teaching dedicated to total relaxation. There are some simple poses that can be done such as happy baby pose and corpse pose which will help children relax and release any leftover tension in the body. They are both practiced lying on the mat with their back on the floor. Eyes should be closed and the focus should be kept on their breathing. With happy baby pose the children will slowly rock back and forth while corpse pose is done lying still.
Children will also enjoy practicing yoga teaching with parents involved. Once children have learned the basic postures you can have them lead the session and they can choose which poses to do and give the instructions. This provides a learning tool for children to use their imagination and become the leader.
Yoga teacher training will provide the modifications and best practice methods to encourage children to practice yoga and to adapt their practice as they grow older and can include more poses. There is no reason that children should not benefit from the wonderful opportunity of a yoga practice.