SEQUENCING A CHILDREN’S YOGA CLASS

23 Dec

children yoga

Children’s yoga classes should be sequenced in the same basic way as an adult’s class:

Warm- up activities:

  • A series of postures or activities or learning experiences based on the eight limbs of yoga (these may focus on the yamas, niyamas, asana, pratyahara etc…)
  • Cool- down and breathing exercises and
  • Grounding, calming relaxation or visualisation.

Children may engage in a wide range of activities during yoga class – asana and physical activities, role- plays, visualizations, dance and creative play, art and music.

Each section of the class should be a maximum of 15 or 20 minutes. After each section or activity, children should be brought back to centre through a relaxation pose such as corpse pose (Shavasana) or breathing exercises. This will relax the child’s body and bring the entropy level down.

kids yoga 5

An adult might engage their body in the same pose for five rounds, but not a child. Thus, it is better to go through series of different poses and repeating the poses within the series. For example, if 5 different poses are chosen for the children, doing them in random order three times will make it more exciting than doing the poses in strict cycles of 3 at a stretch.

The mantra sa ta na ma chanted with corresponding mudra (finger and thumb engagement) can bring focus to the children and serve as a grounding chant if things get too exciting.

During pranayama(a child should never be asked to hold their breath. The flow of air should be continuous and the entire session should be more of fun. Yoga Breathing techniques such as bhastrika (and ujjayi pranayama) are recommended for children. These breathing exercises do not require holding of breath and simply allow the natural flow of air through the body.

child yoga

EXAMPLE YOGA GAME: ANIMALS

In this game, children role-play animals of their choice. They are asked to choose an animal that represents how they feel or something they like. They then interact with other ‘animals’ in the class and experience the variety of responses of those around them. The purpose is to develop authentic self-expression, to discover that they have a variety of responses and emotions within them and to develop empathy with and understanding of others.

THE KEY TO CONDUCTING AN INTERESTING CLASS

The key is to keep the content of the class fresh and new. Each session can be made interesting by designating specific theme for the day. Appropriate props and music can accompany the themes. Basing yoga around a story can help shape a theme and give children thematic knowledge to start a lesson.

Over-repetition of similar asanas should be avoided.

As a general rule of thumb, a child’s attention span is their age in minutes plus or minus 1

Yogic activities such as simple yogic cooking encourage sharing. Making thank you cards when appropriate and coloring animal or children’s mandala patterns is another focusing pastime. Older children can make their own mandalas.

Children always like a bit of challenge, but nothing that seems impossible to do. Thus, it is a skill that the teacher needs to develop. Keeping the challenge balanced and non-overwhelming is important to keep the attention, focus and curiosity.

Think ahead whether you would like parents present or to wait outside the yoga space. For ease in teaching in is necessary to restrict the number of children in a group, especially with younger children; or enlist extra help to keep the session fun and enjoyable for teacher and children.

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