Top 10 Tips for Yoga Lessons for Kids
Top 10 Tips for Yoga Lessons for Kids
Yoga and its numerous benefits can go a long way in aiding a child’s cognitive and physical growth. But given the sedate and meticulous nature of yogic practice, it is generally adults who seem more suited to such activities.
However, in recent times, new and innovative instructive techniques have been devised to ensure that even kids be able to learn and participate in yoga lessons. Of course, the manner in which yoga lessons for children progress is significantly different from adult yoga classes; the former are designed to complement the behavioural tendencies of young children, thus making them more effective for the attendees.
Having said that, conducting kids yoga lessons is no easy task, even for the most able and experienced instructors. Children are a force to reckon with, especially if the task at hand is to make a bunch of them follow directions.
So here are some tips for yoga lessons for kids that will ensure classes are conducted successfully.
Precaution against distractions
Children are not like adults who are naturally inclined towards restraint and adherence to rules. They will be distracted by the slightest outside activity, they will want to go to the loo whenever bored, they will fidget; and the list goes on and on.
As the instructor, your job is to minimize these potential distractions. Have the class in surroundings that are open and roomy yet sparse. Send all the kids to a “loo visit” the moment they arrive, warning them that there would be none such opportunity later. Offer small incentives for children who will be most well-behaved – some candy perhaps, a small toy or book – at the end of each class.
Have spare essentials handy
Ideally, at the beginning of every new batch, you should hand out a list of essentials that each child must bring along to their guardians. But as you will soon realize, some children are bound to come in without the basics such as fuss-free clothing, yoga mats and water even. Make sure you have some of such supplies stashed away for those who haven’t got theirs. This helps avoid mayhem and complaining once the lessons begin.
Start out with a fun-filled warm-up
Unlike adults who desire hour long sessions of meditative exercise in a quiet atmosphere, kids have rather different sensibilities. Holding their attention for that long is extremely tough, especially when there is a whole group of them. You should thus begin the lesson with a warm-up that will rid them of some of the excess energy; it will help them concentrate on instructions later.
You could make the warm-up a variation of common yoga aasanas, performed while sitting in a huge circle; this gives the exercise the feel of familiar gaming activities.
Make yoga aasanas more child-friendly
While some yoga aasanas are simple and easily taught, others are complex. Avoid those in the latter category for children will invariably fail at those. Instead, focus on teaching the simpler ones in a fun, effective manner.
Choose those aasanas that may be interesting for children. The butterfly pose, the cat stretch, the snake (cobra) pose, the fish pose, the lion roar, and similar animalistic exercises are more likely to appeal to children. You could also modify traditional poses to make them more engaging from a child’s perspective.
Impart information in a non-boring way
Do not plan your children’s yoga lessons as a monotonous series of yogic exercises – they are never going to hold kids’ attention. Instead, have a hybrid format with exercise interspersed with stories and play time. The stories can be related to the history and practice of yoga, presented in a unique, interesting manner. The play time could comprise of competitions, quizzes and memory games, wherein all the poses and “stories” are revised.
The bottom line is, you have to keep the children occupied with activities that stimulate their brain, body and imagination. Only then will you be able to conduct an hour-long class which does not have the quality of a chaotic fish-market.
Add partner poses to the session
Partner poses are a great option for kids’ yoga lessons. They help build friendship and cooperation amongst the children and also motivate them to try harder. Look for partner poses that are relatively easy and simplify the more tough ones. And when conducting the classes, do not insist on random pairings; let the children choose who they want to partner with so as to make this a willing and not forced effort.
Despite all these contingency measures, you are bound to have moments when the kids seem unmanageable. When such a situation arises, be calm and compassionate. After all, these are children you are dealing with, some of whom may not even be there of their own accord. So be gentle.
If your audience is not paying heed to your instructions, take recouse to mass-attention-attraction. Have a clapper or whistle or bell handy, which you can use to silence the crowd and resume control.
Most importantly, in such situations, ensure you do not single out any child to chide or reprimand. This is very likely to make him or her more antagonistic, thereby hampering the prospect of further cooperation.
Deal with difficult children intelligently
You are going to be confronted with a difficult child sooner or later. Either he will be constantly crying, very cranky, or be a little too defiant or opinionated. To deal with such a child, patience and intelligence will be key.
Engage him in your lessons giving him a central role. Call him out for demonstrations, appreciate his technique more, perhaps even reward him when he is good. Even as this may be unfair to the other children, it is important to keep such kids in check or they will invariably obstruct your yoga lesson, making it a waste of time for all parties involved.
Also, do not hesitate to interact with the parents of such children and asking about how to deal with them. They may offer helpful insights on how best to handle the child.
Find the right balance of strictness
You are the kids’ yoga instructor and thus a figure of authority. Exploit this position in order to assert control, albeit subtly so. Be firm in your dealing with them, calling them out when they misbehave or disrupt class. However, do not be a formidable figure they are scared of.
Simply put, you will have to strike a balance between strictness and friendliness. The children should not be terrified of you, but need to have a respect for your presence and instruction. Most child instructors have the natural capacity to invoke such a response. However, if you are more inexperienced, you will have to hone this ability of appearing approachable and stern, all at once.
Focus on enjoyment
This is of vital importance, for the sake of both the children, as well as you. The primary objective during the yoga lesson should be to have fun while imparting some form of yogic learning. However, do not push the kids to achieve perfection in the performance of exercise if it is too taxing. Do not constantly point out the flaws in their technique but encourage them whenever possible instead.
The idea is that the kids should go back home having learnt something while also having had a great time. If this requires you to sometimes forgo learning and play a game of catch, “ringa ringa roses” etc, then so be it. It will leave the children happy and refreshed, so they can resume the lesson with more concentration. Also, if your classes have a general atmosphere of fun and frolic, kids will be more excited to return for the next session and perform better.
One of the best incentives, however, is a small-time reward system. The best performed should be awarded a small prize at the end of the session – a coloring book, a healthy snack, a small badge, or a sticker; basically a trinket to make him happy. Give away one or two such “prizes” at the end of every session and see how it improves the kids’ performance. Try to ensure that every child ends up getting a prize through the course of the entire workshop.
Having enlisted many tips on how to conduct yoga lessons for kids, it must be highlighted that this is not an easy thing to do. You shall master the art of imparting yogic instruction to children over time, learning as you go.
One thing you must prepare in advance however, is your lesson plan. You need to have a sequence of activities planned out for each class. Yes, you should be open to deviations based on the general atmosphere on particular days, but a set flow of action needs be pre-planned.
If you are able to do this and incorporate the aforementioned techniques into your mode of instruction, you shall most likely be able to do the job justice. So keep these tips in mind, some kids are waiting for stimulating yoga lessons from you!
YOGA LESSONS IN DAMANSARA PERDANA
Maya Yoga Samudraa is the brainchild of its principal, Datin Suleiha Suguna (Sue). It was founded in 2009 but has been operating since 2006 under the name Maya Yoga Studio.
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