Giselle Shardlow, children’s author of Kids Yoga Stories, is back for part 2 of her series on Yoga for Kids. She hopes to inspire children by drawing from her experiences as an international primary school teacher, yoga teacher training
graduate, world traveler, mother, and yogi. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. Her yoga-inspired children’s books and other creative resources can be found at www.kidsyogastories.com, or on her facebook or twitter pages.
In Part 1, I shared 10 Things that I Learned from Yoga Teacher Training, reflecting on the history and culture of yoga.
Since I’ve thought about where yoga came from, now I’d like to share my thoughts on why yoga for children is a great idea, especially when it’s coupled with storytelling:
• Engage in creative storytelling. Yoga with little ones works well when you tell a story or take the children on an imaginary journey. You can purchase one of my Kids Yoga Stories books to get you started on storytelling and movement, or bring out your own creative voice and inner storyteller. Storytelling helps children to develop their literacy skills, while practicing yoga helps to develop their strength and flexibility. Good for their minds and bodies.
• Boost energy. Participating in a fun, inspiring, and dynamic class boosts the children’s energy levels. This also helps them to develop coping strategies to deal with life’s challenges.
• Create real and meaningful activities. Children learn effectively when the information is presented in a real and meaningful way that enables them to apply it to their lives. Choose themes or topics when you are practicing your yoga together. For example, pretend to go on a trip to another country, to the zoo, to outer space, to the beach, to forest, or to the desert. You can do Tree Pose to look like a Joshua Tree:
• Focus on cooperation. Your kids yoga experience encourages cooperative, sharing, and accepting behavior. The focus is on the journey, not whether your students can hold a perfect posture.
• Link movement to breath. You can introduce the idea of noticing their own breath during the poses. Linking movement to breath is one of the most important parts of yoga, which sets it apart from other physical activities.
• Learn about different topics. The intention of your kids yoga experience could be for young “travelers” to learn about different places, people, and animals around the world through movement, fun, and exploration. The aim could also be to develop globally- conscious little citizens. Now, doesn’t that sound like a good idea?! You can do Boat Pose to act like the canyon walls.
• Be kind and compassionate. The yoga principles (translated in Patanjalis’ The Yoga Sutras) suggest ways to promote kindness and compassion. These behaviors and conversations are modeled and positively reinforced by us, as teachers and parents.
• Model a healthy lifestyle. While doing yoga postures does not necessarily help children to lose weight, the practice increases their self-awareness, which ultimately promotes a healthy lifestyle.
• Build strength and flexibility. Yoga postures assist children in building strength and flexibility while learning about basic anatomy and physiology.
• Ease tension and manage stress. Regular relaxation and meditation techniques assist yoginis in combating stressful life situations. Practicing yoga poses helps to increase circulation and ease any blocked tension in their bodies.
• Encourage discipline and consistency. Children attending a regularly-set yoga class at home, in the studio, or in the classroom benefit from learning discipline, routine, and consistency.
• Practice anywhere with anyone. Yoga with children can be practiced anywhere, with only a clear space and a little bit of imagination. For example, you could arch up like a cougar on a yoga mat, on a towel (on a non-slip surface only), or directly on your carpet. Yoga is an activity that the whole family can enjoy together. Please keep safety in mind.
• Develop teamwork skills. A shared journey with other yoginis is practice in gaining invaluable teamwork skills, providing an opportunity to share and care for each other.
• Calm their minds. Relaxation in Resting Pose (Shavasana in Sanskrit) at the end of the journey assists to calm the child’s busy mind. This practice will aid in developing concentration and focus.
• Tap into different intelligences. Howard Gardner offers his study of “Multiple Intelligences” to gain a better understanding of how students learn. Your kids yoga experience can tap into all eight intelligences:
- Verbal: storytelling, reading, discussing.
- Logical/Mathematical: problem solving, sequential, repetition, counting.
- Visual: drawing, props, pictures.
- Kinesthetic: movement, yoga, manipulating objects.
- Musical: rhythms, singing, chanting, music.
- Intrapersonal: reflection, calming the mind, questioning, self-awareness, feelings.
- Interpersonal: communicating, sharing, cooperating, group work.
- Naturalist: appreciation for environment and animals.
I certainly wished that I had found yoga earlier in my life, but am excited about sharing yoga with my young toddler and through my yoga-inspired children’s books, found at www.kidsyogastories.com.
There are many ways to share a yoga experience with your children at home or with your students in the classroom – join me for Part 3 for a Step-by-Step Guide of how to get started with Yoga for Children!
Thank you Giselle! Do you practice yoga with your kids? Tell us about it!