Today's Daily Tip
That doesn't mean that classes don't have structure. As Wenig puts it, "You need to have a large energetic field—not be a dictator, but really know your stuff." There's some controversy about whether to use pPranayama, or breathing techniques, with young yogis. Kellam has students use big breaths to blow a feather across the floor to develop deep belly breathing. Wenig emphasizes that kids shouldn't be asked to hold the breath, but that developing breath awareness can be a gentle introduction to the world of pranayama.
If you want to start teaching kids yoga, it may help to take part in a special teacher training. Such programs attract seasoned yoga teachers, as well as social workers or teachers like Wheet who want to find a way to bring yoga into their daily work with kids. Wenig believes that this may be where kids' yoga will find its firmest toehold in this country, as people who work with youngsters learn to incorporate a bit of yoga between classes, during group counseling, or at the end of a session on the playground to help kids focus and connect with their bodies.
In an official program, trainers will tell you it's essential not to sacrifice safety. Although it's best not to rigidly correct alignment in budding yogis, it may be best not to use such poses as Shoulderstand or Headstand while young necks are still developing. And—along with offering loads of suggestions for fun sequencing—trainers will teach you how to gauge when more challenging poses might be appropriate for students.
You'll also hear gems like this one from Kellam, who encourages lots of singing in her classes, both to incorporate deeper breathing and to keep the mood in the room peaceful. "They hear admonishments and commands all day. If you can sing instead, their brain receives it in a totally different way. Yoga can be a refuge for them."
Rachel Brahinsky is a San Francisco–based writer and yoga teacher who is reveling in finding new ways to bring joy to her own practice.
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