You’ve decided to enrol your child in a yoga class. Congratulations! Your child will benefit in a multitude of ways. But how do you choose a class or teacher that will understand your child’s needs? Well here are 5 guidelines
The teacher has training or experience with children in classrooms.
I have had a few discussions with yoga teachers and it is quite a transition from teaching adults to teaching children. Most adult yoga teachers don’t have to worry about an adult staying on their mat. In a child’s class, having everyone on their mat is an accomplishment. A teacher who has been trained in teaching children yoga is great. I have taught children for years and even when I was presenting my yoga story books I would start with a game of Simon says or some way of grabbing their attention fast so the focus was on listening to me.
If your child has special needs such as ADHD, Autism or Asthma, there are special techniques that only specialized teachers can provide. Putting your child in a class where the teacher is trained to handle the situation, at least until your child is comfortable with yoga, is essential.
They focus on engaging the children instead of perfecting the pose
If you focus too rigidly on body alignment and poses, yoga loses the flowing, creative, enjoyable quality that kids love. Plus it’s hard to have children stand still while the teacher comes along and adjusts each child’s pose. Often a child can do yoga poses better than beginner adults as they are usually more flexible. Holding poses for long periods does not give children the same benefits that it does adults. Usually a three step yoga sequence where the child get’s into a pose and then can make noise or “pretend” often works best.
They have an arsenal of different lesson plans, visuals, audio and ideas
Yoga classes for adults can last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. A child cannot stay focused on yoga poses for the same length of time. Games, stories and lesson plans are essential to keeping a child engaged yet active. Usually really good yoga for kids teachers have lesson plans for the class that revolve around a “theme”. So they have a yoga mat routine, maybe a story or an audio, a game or rhyme set and an art project or props that revolve around “Rainy Days” or “Penguins” for example.
They focus on your child as well as you during interactions
I am often genuinely interesting in a child’s thinking and way of viewing the world. So when I teach, I try to make it engaging and fun from their perspective. I generally try to engage children directly (after I’ve chatted with their parents of course). A teacher should talk directly to your child, ask his or her opinion and lower down to his or her level. This shows you that the teacher likes children and is genuinely interested in what your child’s ideas or opinions are.
They allow the children time to just be “silly”
Children love to be given the opportunity to be active and make noises, suggestions or talk. The yoga class should not always be done in silence. Asking questions, having the children roar when they are in lion pose or asking them what superhero they are in hero pose will keep them engaged and will allow them to enjoy the quiet and still times in the yoga class.
*Please note this is just a personal guideline. It is not a rigid list of must-haves, but things to consider when choosing a yoga class for your child.
Lakshmi Gosyne is an author, illustrator, web designer and teacher. She worked as a preschool and primary school teacher for 16 years before writing two yoga story books: Jungle Walk: A Yoga Story for Kids and Waiting for Dad: A Yoga Story for Kids. You can find out more at www.lakshmigosyne.com