The question always is why do we do Yoga for children and not any other excercise.
Today it is very alarming how many children are suffering from psychosomatic disorders such as sleeping disturbances, eating disturbances, headaches and very often wrong posture like drooping shoulders as well as stress related to pressure, competition and aggression in school. To help children cope, we must find a way of excercise that involves the whole body, the unity of body, soul and mind.
Yoga is the way to come back to this unity, to come back to perfect balance. Yoga is movement combined with correct breathing and meditation. With Yoga we discover our spirit again, through the body. It makes the child alert, flexible (in mind and body), stronger healthier and more confident. Yoga greatly helps to cope with day to day pressures.
Yoga for children is taught different from the way we teach adults. Some Asanas are not taught at all, especially to children who go through puberty. In the following I will give you an idea how I structure a lesson for kids.
We always start off sitting in a circle and chanting OM. All kids love to chant together and to feel the strong vibration the OM creates when chanted together. If the Children are very young, I wrap the lesson into a story. Often our stories take us to far away countries and in order to get there we must fly. So first we board a jet and all kids 'fly' around and land on their mats. Kids like to spread their 'wings'.
Since many Asanas have names of animals we can meet the animals in the country we visit. It's amazing how many new Asanas are created (we had a dog that did a pee, which is Adho Mukha Svanasana with one leg lifted). Sometimes we create famous buildings with Tadasana, Trikonasana etc. When I teach children I use a lot of affirmations. 'I am strong like a warrior' in Virabhadrasana or 'I am alert like an eagle' in Garudasana etc. Children don't do Bhujangasana they are a dangerous cobra they don't do Natarajasana they are poised and beautiful dancers.
I wind down with sitting poses. We 'close a book' in Paschimottanasana for example. Also I do not teach Sirsasana to children younger than 16 years, because of their delicate necks and also the strong effect on the glands, but I teach Adho Mukha Vrksasana with me as a wall or the real wall. Through relaxation I tell them a story that deals with finding courage, letting go of tension etc. A favourite ending of the yoga lesson is when each child tells about her/his one good thing and one bad thing of the day. Finally we strongly breathe out all the bad things and happily inhale all the good things. Kids love to talk about their problems, it's a great relieve when they see that they are not alone with their problems. When we meditate I use a candle and we look at it for only a minute as a start (later longer) than we close the eyes and see the image of it, later we draw a picture of the candle. Sometimes I use soft music to focus only on the sound.
There is so much to write about Yoga lessons with kids, it can easily fill a book. If someone is interested in stories or experiences I made, or just wants to exchange notes, please e-mail me.
Article by Karin Wettimuny.
She can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org