Teaching yoga to children has been wonderful! I feel much honored to be able to make this available to them; and, at the same time I teach them physical poses, breathing techniques and different ways to relax, they also teach me. One of the biggest lessons I have learned, right from the beginning, was to let go of plans and be flexible.
Today, even though I still like to have a general theme for the class (summer or Halloween, for example), instead of coming with a list of poses and games to do, I only bring a couple in my mind to initiate the broadening of the chosen theme and let it flow from there. My kid yoga class allows student’s participation, which means, besides me, they also come up with poses we can try. So, nowadays I only have a more defined beginning and end, when more cooling down poses should happen to prepare for final relaxation (savasana).
Even though sometimes midway through class some kids start to ask when relaxation will start. Kids, like adults, also have days when they feel tired and would prefer to take it easy. But knowing they won’t last half of the class in complete stillness, I may opt for more restorative poses from then on, if the group energy is not very high.
During the final relaxation, everyone is supposed to be quiet, while I read a short story, talk about feelings, or guide them in visualization. For new students, it is hard to refrain from talking during that time. Younger kids also have a hard time with that. And, to be honest, I even know a few adults who have told me they just feel like leaving the room if they have to quietly lie on their mats for too long! Anyway, once the kid gets used to not talking on those final minutes of class, it is funny to see how they react so differently towards a new student, who can’t stop talking while resting on the mat. Some kids start to shush the talker, some start to frown, and some others just dive deeply in their own relaxation, ignoring all the noises they hear.
On the other day, at the end of class, I called the kids out of savasana (lying still on their mats), after I had put a little surprise on top of their bellies. As I gathered to say OM with them, one of the kids asked, “Why don’t we put this [the surprise] on our laps and we feel ourselves being happy while we say OM?” Hearing that from a 6-year-old, who could barely lie quietly in savasana on her first yoga classes, was simply delightful! She showed she was in touch with her feelings – at that age? That is just terrific!