Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kids' Yoga Teacher Training

Today's guest blogger is Amanda Reid

As adults, we may view yoga in many different ways. Some may see yoga as a set of challenging body movements done in a hot room. Some may see it as movements done in coordination with breathing patterns. And still others may see yoga as a way to find inner peace through meditating on sound. Yoga is all of these things, none of these things and more than these things.

Children are naturals at yoga. Not just at asana, although watching babies in cobra, toddlers in downward dog and schoolchildren in handstands it's clear that is surely the case too. What is natural for children is to be focused, so present to what they are doing at that moment. We see this when a child is building a tower of blocks, or drawing a picture, or climbing a tree.

There is no specific set of techniques called "children's yoga." Instead, we apply what we already about yoga to what we know about children. What we know about yoga is that it's a way of explaining a wonderful set of practices - including ways of breathing, moving and being - that has evolved over thousands of years through direct experience, as well as the result of those practices. What we know about children is that breathing, moving and being are second nature to them. Not all children express in the same way, but the impetus, the spark within them, is to express through breath, body, mind and soul.

So knowing this, how do we apply the practices of yoga to children? Children come in a variety of ages, with each more receptive to different ways of sharing yoga.

Toddlers are very instinctual - they've just learned to function mechanically in their bodies and they don't weigh up the pros and cons of their actions. Playing is how they learn and they need lots of repetition. Toddlers enjoy participating in yoga with their parents, crawling through the tunnel of their mother's downward dog or relaxing in the lap of their father's meditation.

Preschoolers are at the height of their imagination. They are very social and like to play at yoga with their friends. An adventure, story or song with lots of animals is a perfect way of engaging them.

School-aged children like a little more sophistication and complexity in their yoga. They like to move their bodies in order to feel confident and strong, and they enjoy a few minutes of guided relaxation. They may like being challenged with a complicated asana, are enthusiastic about yoga games, and show great perception of the relationship between their thoughts, their emotions and their breath.

Pre-teens want to be taken seriously, so songs and adventures do not hold great appeal. They love partner yoga, and are very receptive to understanding themselves a little more through meditation.

Teenagers are open to the same practices we would see within a regular yoga class, but despite their well-developed bodies they are still developing emotionally and hormonally, and require consideration and sensitivity in their yoga teaching.

As a children's yoga teacher, I've shared yoga with hundreds of children in a variety of circumstances. From schools to yoga studios, kindergartens to after-school and holiday programs, and from individual therapy with special-needs children to groups of 40 or more Girl Guides, all of these children have taught me about being present and focused. Being present comes from stopping what I am doing so I can fully hear when a child shares their day with me, respecting their courage in trying a challenging asana, admiring their unique expression of a tree or a downward dog without looking for perfect alignment, and being flexible about my teaching plans when it's clear that they don't match the needs or abilities of the children in front of me - nothing like chucking it all out the window and starting again!

The weekend of 29 April - 1 May, I'll be leading a 20-hour intensive weekend workshop in Kids' Yoga Teacher Training at Healium. This is the only opportunity to attend this training in Wellington. We'll explore yoga for children for all ages, from toddlers to teens, in this fun, informative and practical course. For registration information, click here. And to read about how U.S. schools are discovering the benefits of yoga for children, click here.

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Amanda Reid is the founder and director of Samadhi Yoga. A yogini, naturopath, massage therapist and Ayurveda practitioner, Amanda leads workshops, teacher trainings and retreats all around the world.


Healium said...

We just learned that Amanda's amazing teacher training not only has the RYS standard with Yoga Alliance, but also just met the Registered Children's Yoga School standard!

This means the training is one of the few RCS registered schools in the world!

German said...

Really, it is one the best way for our child make good fitness and stamina as well in your training have fantastic flexibility for child yoga.Thanks

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