Children are truly our future. It may be cliche, but it’s true. In today’s world of endless screens, it’s even more important to introduce children of all ages to yoga. Kids are incredibly wise: they come into this world full of curiosity and creativity. Yoga helps them hone those skills, while also teaching them tangible ways to improve communication, coping and problem-solving skills.
Since children are bombarded by external stimulus on a moment to moment basis it’s more important than ever to give kids time to reflect inwards and take time to think for themselves. Otherwise they will always depend on answers outside of themselves. Yoga is one of the easiest and most fun tools to help kids discover this skill for themselves. The ancient teachings consistently teach that we all have answers within ourselves as long as we are willing to listen.
The amount of benefits kids get from practicing yoga is infinite. It gives them a healthy outlet to express themselves physically, helps mental focus and calm through philosophy, stories and breathing techniques. I have seen first-hand how yoga helps kids handle their emotions and feelings in a healthy way. One time I had a little boy come in with a lot of anger issues. His body language held so much tension in the shoulders and face that I knew he would be a tough nut to crack. But I worked slowly with him and patiently. By the end of the course, his mother asked him what he was going to do when he got angry at home. He looked at her and sat down in a cross-legged position, closed his eyes, and started chanting “Omm,” over and over again. His mom looked at me and was in shock. Honestly, so was I. But this is the power of yoga – it seeps into each person as it needs to.
Yoga is often associated with being calm and focused, but when teaching children, it sometimes isn’t as straightforward as asking them to sit down and breathe deeply. When calming down a child you might need to assess if they have extra energy that they can’t get out of their system just by sitting down in a quiet pose. So a way to get excess excitement out is to do a yoga dance party. Let them go crazy! Then they will be so tired that you can focus them in a seated forward bend position – Pascimottanasana in Sanskrit. Usually this pose allows them to turn their attention inwards and you can then get them to lie down and do the same pose lying down.
During my Super Yogis’ Schoolhouse Kids Yoga Trainings, I encourage my students to connect with their inner child. What does this mean exactly? This means that as an adult you can tap into the childlike qualities you had without feeling any sense of tension, reservation or shame about your past childhood. In an ideal world, every adult, yoga teacher or not, is in touch with their inner child – this quality doesn’t only help one approach others without judgement, but also helps everyone accept who they are without question. The reason so many adults don’t stay connected to their childlike self is because it’s been suppressed and repressed for too long so they have forgotten. Society teaches us to “grow up,” “act like a man,” and to act responsibly. But as a human wanting to thrive and feel free in this life, it’s essential to keep this sense of pure innocence within us throughout our whole life. It’s the quality that keeps us curious, creative and helps us find the fun in every situation! For a teacher (yoga or otherwise) this quality is of utmost importance because it gives you the ability to stay present and be objective to your students’ needs without adding your emotional attachments and history to any circumstance. It allows you to have a clean slate and see life through these childlike eyes; full of wonder, curiosity, magic and purity. Who wouldn’t want to see life this way?
As Whitney Houston says in her famous song, “Children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside!” I know you’re singing it along now and it’s the truth. Our children are waiting for us to stand up for them and show them that they are smart, creative and wise. We have to stand up to the system that is bullying our kids into thinking they are stupid only because they don’t fit the societal mold. Let’s break that mold by going back to the ancient roots that brought us here to begin with. The injustice gets under my skin and if you also feel this way then stand up with me and become an activist. Not by picketing but by picking a lifestyle and career that will inspire you to be the example of how we want this world to be. Do it for yourself and do it for the children. Take action now. You won’t regret it. You’ll only regret not taking this action sooner. #itsforthechildren
For more information on my upcoming Super Yogis Kids Yoga trainings, CLICK HERE!