Why my Kid is a Yoga Kid
“Mama, will you play yoga with me?”
My daughter has grown up with yoga in the house. I came to this practice in a serious way when she was just a baby and it’s been at least one of my jobs to teach yoga ever since she was four.
This past Fall, I decided that taking her with me to the studio would be an awesome way to add another class into the schedule, spend time with her and share yoga with the children of my friends and students.
Holy Learning Curve, Batman.
Teaching yoga to children is nothing like teaching it to adults (in my experience. If you wish to argue, I’d love to hear how your experience is different). Quite often when teaching my regular flow classes, I show up and build my class around the students who are present and what they need that day. I may have a peak pose in mind or a cool new sequence, but I very rarely show up with a set lesson plan anymore. I find that if I’m paying too much attention to my plan, I’m not paying enough attention to whose in front of me.
Note to me: show up with no lesson plan in mind when teaching children and prepare to be eaten alive by wild dogs.
In my Caregiver and Child classes, we usually do some breathing exercises (Darth Vader was a favourite), guided visualization/meditation, yoga games and then take some sort of journey together (the beach, the zoo, etc). I always let the children teach a few moves. And when they need to get up and shake their sillies out, that’s just what we do.
It’s kind of a no-brainer that yoga has similar benefits for children as it does for adults. Increased flexibility (mentally and physically), stress-reduction, time spent exploring their inner world in the hopes that they learn these things now rather than on a therapist’s couch in twenty years…
Yoga is such an integrated part of our lifestyle that I never really stopped to think much about why I wanted my daughter to practice yoga until yesterday.
Yesterday, Sierra and I showed up for class and we ended up being the only ones there. It’s cold out, it’s December, people are busy. We’re busy.
I considered cancelling and then I decided to teach the class I’d been planning to teach, just for the two of us.
Side note: My kid is busy. Not because I’m a crazy helicopter-mom who makes her join everything (I’m a different kind of crazy) but because she loves everything. She has piano lessons, gymnastics and ballet class back-to-back during the school week. She’s a busy first-grader. This time of year at her school, there are newsletters coming home daily explaining wonderful Christmas projects.
The result: She’s totally fried.
When I asked her to lay down for meditation, she was so wired. She couldn’t stop moving.
We went through the entire class as though there was a room full of us. She practiced listening (something we often work on – she’s a tad precocious. Weird.) and slowing down and breathing. We listened to classical music.
Here’s why my kid is going to be a yoga kid if I have any say in the matter:
* Our kids lives move really freakin’ fast
Have you noticed? Sometimes I don’t. I only tend to notice how fast her life is moving from my perspective.
* I want her to know herself
The part of her that is unconditional love. The part of her that she can turn to when the world sucks a little (or a lot). I didn’t find it until I was 28. I would love to give her a head start.
* She’s completely capable
The first time I ever taught yoga to children was also the first time I taught in a large gymnasium, on a stage, with a mic. I invited the children, one at a time onto the stage with me to show the group their yoga. Some kids had obviously learned some yoga either from their parents or from amazing educators. Some were toddlers who came to the stage to play. It was all pretty magical. When my kid came to the stage, she sat in half Lotus, put her hands in Namaste and closed her eyes. The noisy gymnasium was colonized by the silence of a five year-old girl.
Think what that can do for the world!!
Which brings me to my next point:
* Don’t we sort of owe it to each other and our kids to give them all the tools in the arsenal to get through this crazy gig called Life?
I, for one, plan to share this practice with my girl until she finds someone cooler to teach her (Rhonda?? L’il help? :)). I will teach her everything I know and then watch with great pride as she surpasses me.
Teach your parents well,