Teaching kids yoga is very rewarding, though it does come with its own challenges. So if you’re new to teaching yoga to kids, here’s a quick list of “commandments” to guide you and hopefully help you in your classes.
1. Yoga Has To Be FUN!
Veggies are good for you, but if you don’t have teeth to chew them, you need to blend/soup/juice them. In the same way, yoga is good for you, but you have to make it digestible for the people you teach.
Give yourself the freedom to re-invent yoga, re-name poses and invent new ones...the only rule is that it has to feel good. And remember that yoga is much more than yoga! Anything can be yoga! Make any game, dance or even soccer yoga, by putting some yoga poses there or simply moving and breathing through it with more awareness.
For older kids, fun is not enough...the class also has to be COOL! And “cool” is anything that you can take from the class to show off to your friends.
2. It Is Always More Fun To Do Yoga TOGETHER!
Bring people together through partner and group poses, games, massage etc. It is such a HUGE added value to just doing yoga poses. Another tip: Always (almost always) practice in a CIRCLE. Why?
In a circle there is no first or second, we are all on the same level as opposed to teacher against the students as in a regular class setting. In a circle, everyone can see everyone and everyone can be seen by everyone – it is a community!
3. CO-CREATE The Class With Your Students!
Allow time for the kids to be creative. Give them choices (in a yoga journey for example: how to get there and what do you see there? What do you want to work on today?). It transforms the class from your class to OUR class so the kids have more invested interest in making the class work.
Children are empowered by making choices. Give more control to receive more control. When you let them be the leaders, they pay you back by letting you be the leader when it is your turn to lead.
4. Start From WHERE THEY ARE!
If you do this, there is no limit to what you can achieve with the children. But if you start from where you planned to, or from where you thought they are supposed to be, or from where they where last week, you will simply miss the mark.
If the class is too easy, it is going to be boring, and if the class is too difficult, kids are going to get frustrated. SUCCESS BUILDS SUCCESS! Each child is an individual and learns and progresses at their own pace – the more you can see that kids are not all the same, the better teacher you will be.
5. NEXT NEXT NEXT!
Don’t insist on anything. If a pose or a game is too difficult or too boring and you see that kids are not engaging, immediately let it go as if it has never happened, and move to the next thing. Think in associations...never stop even for a second!
6. Law Of The Jungle!
Whatever the kids are, you need to be more of! For the kids to follow your lead, you need to be louder, more dramatic, faster, crazier than them and totally out there! If you are not all of this, they will follow someone else in the group who is.
Give everything you have in every class! Be dramatic, use your voice, be everywhere all the time, fill up the space with your voice and with your energy. You are a superstar! A ROCKSTAR! Let yourself shine!
7. Keep Your RULES At All Cost!
Give them freedom, but always within safe boundaries. If you don’t keep your own rules, there are no rules. But don’t have too many rules, because they are hard to keep in a kids class, but do keep ONE rule: RESPECT.
This means mutual respect. If you respect the kids they will respect you, if you listen to them they will listen to you, if you let them lead they will let you be the leader too etc.
Tip: DON’T TALK TO THE WALLS! Never ever give instructions when no one is listening. Always first gather the kids’ attention and only then give instruction.
8. Build Community
Be nice to everyone and don’t be too strict with anything. You never lose by giving.
Come at least 15 minutes before and stay for at least 15 minutes after. Be interested in the kids’ stories and their likes and dislikes. Always use the child’s name and bond with each child in a personal way.
Create a community for the parents too. Being a parent can sometimes be an isolating experience and people come to the class not only because you are a great teacher; they also come for the social part of it. Share contact lists and encourage conversation and helping each other.
9. The Magic Of Touch
Touch is the first form of communication. Touch is magic! We receive love through touch more than through any other sense. Touch connects people faster than any other thing.
Touch also solves all discipline issues. Make an unruly child your assistant and place them next to you in the class; if they do anything out of line, you don’t even need to say anything, just put a hand on their back and everything will be in order again. Try and see for yourself!
10. Make It BEAUTIFUL!
We get nourished by beauty just as much as we do through the intake of food and water. Yoga is so beautiful, especially when we do it together! When we move beautifully together as a pair or group, we move with more awareness.
Well, that was quite a lot to absorb! Try it in your classes and let us know how it went!