“May the light and love in me shine through to the light and love in you”. This is how we end our kids yoga class and is really the story of kids yoga. I arrive at Apple Blossom Early Learning Centre for a weekly session with the kindergarten group followed by the senior toddlers. Walking towards the main entrance many of the kids are waving from the window and I immediately see the light in their faces. Forming a circle and diving into yoga is as natural as a frog leaping from a lilly pad. The imagination emanating from the kids is spell binding as we begin our story and move through a journey of poses. The story makes marvellous twists and turns as the kids move in and out of poses and give a little bit of their imagination to the mix.
As the weeks roll on with yoga at Apple Blossom, the wallflowers begin to integrate characteristics and personas of the yoga poses up front and centre. Some of the silent and watchful kids begin contributing to the story with beautiful pearls of wisdom. This is where the magic is revealed – the self confidence, the creativity, the individuality and the risk taking has little bodies moving, expanding and contracting. Attention is focused on the imagination, play and story line. The breath in bumble bee, lion or bunny pose fuels the connection of body and mind – it allows energetic release, creating new energy which allows a pulsation of fun, high energy and a grounded soft experience. The kids transition from loud to quiet, fast to slow, hard and soft and vice versa. The ending relaxation is a result of this pulsation and an integrated body and mind. For the majority, passive relaxation is completely embraced. For others a more active relaxation unfolds as the body does not need to be still to calm the nervous system or find peace and contentment. The imagination becomes the haven.
For the majority of kids attending Body Yoga 4-8 year old and 9-12 year old classes, relaxation is the most favourite part of the class. There is a lot to get through before the finale of relaxation and students learn quickly that the yoga practice sets up for deep relaxation. They learn to regulate their energy, express how they feel and identify the antidote to emotions through posture, breath and meditation. During the class kids are empowered to “zoom out” their perspective rather than “zoom in”. Often there is a transformation during the class from a heavy, downward, narow focus on circumstances towards a lighter, uplifting, open perspective. Many of the kids express situations that have been difficult and begin to identify tools such as the breath and choice to change the channel on their emotional board. Practicing kids yoga as a teacher, I have witnessed that movement through imagination and posture integrates mind, body and spirit and leads to children problem solving with a bigger picture perspective. Above all it’s just pure and simple fun which puts me in touch with my bliss body and my inner child which is often stifled by the demands and responsibilities of our modern world.
I have a sense of awe when kids engage in yoga and can’t help but contrast their ability to flow and release control of time and space in comparison to adults. Yoga is a journey and acceptance of where the body and mind are at during any given moment. Acceptance is the greatest tool for change. For adults, releasing control is a different scenario as demonstrated by kids in yoga practice. Surrendering control for adults is more complex due to conditioned, sub-optimal breath patterns, constant data processing (thinking) versus noticing and accepting the nature of incoming data (thoughts). Above all as adults we often forget to create space for fun and spontaneity! This should be a top priority in considering how we portray ourselves as role models.
Here’s a few tips this winter for your family:
Bring your child to Body Yoga for a trial class Rug up and take a walk – enjoy our winter wonderland Jump on the trampoline with extra thick socks – shake up the lymph system and boost immunity (also learn Anna’s DIY lymph shake in yoga class) Turn off technology, play games and laugh! We naturally desire to eat more acidic food, fats and protein in winter so a more liquid diet (soups, stews etc) enables easier digestion. Drink warm water every 20 minutes- automate this habit by filling up a thermos each morning, 1/2 from the tap and half from the kettle. Add a few slices of ginger for extra warmth! Check out Anna’s winter series yoga class