I have been teaching Kids Yoga and Kids Meditation in public schools since 2002. In Los Angeles, we have a great range of cultures and ethnicities. Each week, I teach in 9 public schools, 3 twenty-minute classes within each school with classrooms exceeding 25 students. With such density and diversity in student population, each week I experience how favorably kids respond to yoga and meditation.
When teaching children, as one might expect, elements of fun are included in order to engage their attention. I feel it is a priority for the Kids Yoga teacher to consider how children are relating to the practice and to put themselves in the shoes of their students. What kind of memories, associations and meanings are we Kids Yoga Teachers planting within children's minds?
Children must make the connection of why they are executing postures and why they are sitting down to meditate. They need to know the real life benefit of poses. It is not so much the yoga poses that must be remembered by children when they are feeling anxious, insecure, tired and irritated. They must remember their breath as the first step to centering their attention and emotions. We teach children to remember that the body, brain and heart need care every day. Let's start the healthy habit of calm breathing and self-reliance in the formative years. Let's start the habit of respect for others and for oneself in Kindergarten.
As Kids Yoga teachers, we must repeat the basic benefits of creating healthy bodies and calm brains for healthy choices. It is not enough to stop with these two benefits. Children must understand that the essence of practice is to steady oneself in order to be of help to others. As Kids Yoga Teachers, we must teach to the hearts of children. A calm heart relates to a caring attitude, naturally wanting to reach out and be of help to others. Being strong means listening to others, accepting others and extending a helping hand.
We all have a heart. We all want to relate and to belong in our communities. We all breathe. Teaching children the value of a calm heart is crucial today. As we teach Kid Yoga and Kids Meditation within public classrooms, we repeat time and time again, to start with one calm breath in order to steady the heart. When our thinking aligns with the heart, our viewpoints are much more inclusive and caring.